Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet utilizes metaphors, symbolism, oxymorons, and personification to further his theme of nature to describe and illustrate his story. The theme of nature is closely tied to the story. The overarching theme of nature is broken down into the earth and stars. Each is developed with literary devices to properly explain and describe the theme to the readers. It follows along with the narrative that Romeo and Juliet have external factors driving their relationship forward. With the stars and moons leading to their quick marriage and sudden death. The metaphors lead to them being compared as puppets controlled by the stars. The symbolism helps explain and contrast their relationships with beautiful imagery. The oxymorons showcase the complexity of what is happening to them and how everything is contradicting itself within their relationship. The personification helps in visualizing how these other factors are meddling and contributing to their relationship. With all these literary devices, Shakespeare helps the readers to visualize and connect with the story of Romeo and Juliet. The theme of nature helps to ground and connect the characters to the environment. The theme of nature contains everything to do with the earth and stars. The luscious green earth to the bright shinning stars were all used to help grow and nurture the story of Romeo and Juliet. The Earth was used to tie in motherly and natural parts of the story. The stars were an overall theme that conveys the idea of star-crossed lovers. Shakespeare naturally weaves in this theme to the superficial love story of Romeo and Juliet. With the use of beautiful literary devices Shakespeare makes Romeo and Juliet a beautiful story to read and learn from.
The metaphors used in Romeo and Juliet help convey the theme of nature by directly comparing them to the object. This helps the readers imagine and see the different things that Romeo and Juliet represent. Romeo often compared Juliet to be a bright shining star. Romeo proclaimed this as he was stalking Juliet, “The brightness of her cheek would shame those stars”. (2.2.19). This is part of the continuous pattern that Romeo follows, of comparing Juliet to something unreachable. Juliet is like the stars, something that is to be admired from far away and is unreachable. If someone gets too close to a star they will burn to death and die. The same thing has happened to Romeo, he got too close, too quickly. The way he describes Juliet can exhibit how much he values her outwardly appearance. He is not just comparing her and saying she is as beautiful as a star, he is saying that she is more beautiful than a star. In Romeo’s eyes, Juliet surpasses one of the most beautiful things in nature. To Romeo, Juliet is brighter than anyone and anything. Juliet is Romeo’s star, she is his light and guide. It is important to note that their entire relationship revolves around the stars. From the beginning with calling the pair star-crossed lovers and with Romeo cursing the stars in the end.
Metaphors are not just only used to describe one and another, but they are also used to describe the relationship between them. A great metaphor to explain this is how Juliet describes her quickly growing a relationship with Romeo “It is too rash, too unadvised, too sudden, Too like the lightning, which doth cease to be” (2.2.125-126). It perfectly explains what is happening in the scene and story, within an hour of meeting each other they are proclaiming their love. Their love is like lightning, it appeared suddenly and struck them like Cupid’s arrow and unknowing to them then it will end very quickly. These metaphors foreshadow the story to come, that their love is like many things in nature. Some things are only meant to see and admire, like the star. Other things will end very quickly before anyone even realizes what is happening. These comparisons by Shakespeare are used to demonstrate their relationship and explain them with nature. These metaphors give hidden foreshadowing for what is to come. Their relationship is all the things above, it was too ill-advised, to hasty and done very quickly. Most importantly it will stop existing very soon.
The stars decided the fate of Romeo and Juliet, they are the ones to blame for the demise of their relationship. From the beginning to the end, Shakespeare plays on the idea of Romeo and Juliet being “star-crossed lovers.” It symbolizes that Romeo and Juliet are not the only ones in charge of their relationships. There are multiple other factors that lead to their relationship, the start of it and the demise of it. The stars are part of the idea of fate in the play, that fate has led them to the moment. Fate was the one that led Romeo to kill himself and the one that decided that Juliet should kill herself. In truth, this is just shifting the blame, trying the excuse Romeo and Juliet from the stupid actions they took. The concept of star-crossed lovers is not just something that the readers are told, Romeo and Juliet also follow this idea of their fate being controlled. This can be seen when Romeo cries out after her death “Then I deny you, stars!” (5.1.25) This is the peak of when the star-crossed symbolism is used. This was the part where the apparent goals of the stars were fulfilled and done. In reality, the people that affected their relationship were the friends and family around them. The stars are represented through people in their lives, everyone around helped play the role of the stars in their life. As a result of this, Romeo and Juliet are now synonymous with the stars and moon. When the word Star-crossed lovers comes up Romeo and Juliet is often the first example. It is because Shakespeare used the symbolism of stars to display Romeo and Juliet, that they have now themselves become symbols for bad love choices. They have gone from being described as star-crossed lovers to the ultimate star-crossed lovers.
The symbolism of night and day in Romeo and Juliet is apparent as night and day. It shows the two different sides to their love. That during the day, they pretend that nothing happened, that they are only normal everyday teenagers who are not married. During the night and early morning, they spend their time together as a happy couple. The night also pairs well with the symbolism of the stars. Juliet describes this symbolism perfectly when she shyly talks to Romeo as he compliments her “ Thou knowest the mask of night is on my face,” (2.2.90) It displays what the night does in this story. It hides what is going on, it conceals what is going on during the night.
The story of Romeo and Juliet is confusing and contradictory. The characters go from naïve teenagers who know nothing about love, to teenagers that have gotten married and killed within five days. The best way to describe this is with oxymorons, as they contradict themselves. The Friar provides more foreshadowing with this oxymoron, the Friar professed this while talking to a plant, “The Earth that’s nature’s mother is her tomb; What is her burying grave, that is her womb;”. (2.3.9-10) It alludes back to the idea of a circle of life, that everything returns to where they started. It contradicts itself by stating that it ends where its start. It foreshadows multiple events that will happen in the play. Firstly, it references death, something that has been referenced through out the play, which happens at the end of the play. Secondly, it talks about mothers, which is important because Lady Capulet was one of the main reasons the young couple died. It was Lady Capulet that could have changed their fate for the better. She could have convinced Capulet to postpone the marriage and listen to Juliet. It was her mother, the person whose womb she came out of that lead to her untimely death. Thirdly, burying the grave of where they once came from references the burial of Juliet. She was married in the place where her ancestors came from, the family that her mother and father came from. That is where she was buried with her predecessors. This oxymoron foreshadows and highlights what is coming in the near future.
Personification is how the play comes to life right before the reader’s eyes. It brings the surrounding the objects and places to life. In the play Shakespeare creates the environment around the characters as alive and being able to have actions. The stars are brought to life as the bright and gorgeous ladies that get jealous and have jobs to do. They are given human emotions to help transition the comparison between Juliet and the stars. The stars are made as little working women “Two of the fairest stars in all the heaven, Having some business, entreat her eyes” (2.1.15-16)