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Motifs Of Light And Darkness In Romeo And Juliet

2137 words - 9 pages

Motifs of light and darkness run through the play. How do these references to day and night, sun, moon and stars, torches and lightning provide metaphors for what happens in the play? What kind of feelings do these images arouse in the reader?

In William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, a 3 days long feud between the Montague and Capulet families disrupts the city of Verona and causes tragic results for Romeo and Juliet. Revenge, love, and a secret marriage force the young star-crossed lovers to grow up quickly — and fate causes them to commit suicide in despair. The entire story of Rome and Juliet involves contrast, and difference. This is best seen with: The families, the love of ...view middle of the document...

One of the more important instances of this motif is Romeo’s lengthy meditation on the sun and the moon during the balcony scene, in which Juliet, metaphorically described as the sun, is seen as banishing the “envious moon” and transforming the night into day (II.I.46). A similar blurring of night and day occurs in the early morning hours after the lovers’ only night together. Romeo, forced to leave for exile in the morning, and Juliet, not wanting him to leave her room, both try to pretend that it is still night, and that the light is actually darkness: “More light and light, more dark and dark our woes” (III.v.36)

Light and dark imagery makes an impactful, mood-changing effect on the story. It not only stirs emotion, but also provides a better understanding as to what degree characters are compared or described. This is shown in the quote, “The brightness of her cheek would shame those stars, as daylight doth a lamp” (II.II19-21). With this, Romeo exaggerates Juliet’s glowing beauty by implying that it is brighter than a star, which, needless to say, is quite the comparison. More so, he further hyperbolizes Juliet’s appeal by comparing it to a lamp in daylight. Light imagery is also found in the quote, “Arise fair sun, and kill the envious moon” (II.II.4). Romeo designates Juliet as the sun, shining upon everything around her with impeccable luminosity. By commanding the “sun” to arise, Romeo infers that Juliet is strong and capable, but by stating the sun as “fair”, she maintains her grace as well. By describing the moon as envious, Romeo insinuates that Juliet’s beauty is so extraordinary that it causes jealousy among others and leaves them wanting that same beauty badly. With the use of light and dark imagery, it is crystal clear to the reader how Romeo sees Juliet.

The combination of light and dark makes an interesting motif in Romeo and Juliet. But for our young lovers, the nighttime itself is an important motif as well. The evening hours holds all of the significant moments for Romeo and Juliet. They meet; they pledge their love; they elope; they commit suicide.Nighttime represents a time when a person can let go of their inhibitions. The same hold true for our title characters. They have a boldness at night that doesn't always show up in the day; this is especially true for Romeo. The night provides privacy and place away from the public's prying eyes, where Romeo and Juliet's love can blossom.Night is a pretty important time in the play as well. It's when all the passionate love scenes occur so,it seems to shelter and protects the lovers, while the glare of day threatens to reveal them. In contrast, the heat of the sun makes the young men of Verona irritable and prone to violence and the street brawls occur during the daytime.Night is considered to be both a time for romance and liberation, as well as a time of danger, and the imagery of night and darkness in Romeo and Juliet carries both...

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