GCSE English Discuss how Shakespeare uses language and dramatic devices in Act 2 Scene 2 of Romeo & Juliet

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Imogen Kirk                                                                                                                   24th January 2009

Coursework Essay – Shakespeare

Discuss how Shakespeare uses language and dramatic devices in Act 2 Scene 2

Following Act 1 Scene 5, where Romeo and Juliet met at the Grand Capulet’s Ball, the two meet again in Act 2 Scene 2. During Act 2 Scene 2, commonly known as the balcony scene, Romeo passes to the Capulet’s Mansion in search of Juliet. On locating her, he stays hidden, witnessing the declaration of Juliet’s love for him. He overhears her talking aloud of her own love for him, and her concern about the fact that he is a Montague, born of a family that are enemies to her own household: “wherefore”, or “why”, she asks herself, could he not have been born with any other name? Shortly after, he reveals himself whilst Juliet, above him on the balcony, is shocked and fears for his safety. However, Romeo persists in attempting to ‘woo’ her and both are eager to discuss their love for one another. They’re clearly love-struck and arrange to be married within the following day. They reluctantly part before being interrupted by Juliet’s Nurse.

Throughout the scene, Romeo’s language is poetic and religious in comparison to previous scenes. His extravagant sentences show his true, genuine love for Juliet. He uses metaphors including: “O speak again, bright angel” He refers to her as a bright angel against a dark sky. Prior to meeting her, darkness was not just over his head, it was in his heart. Now, he is separated from the dark sky by his vision of Juliet. She signifies purity – being a virgin, and her beauty and goodness. Alternatively, her angelic figure could be seen symbolically as foreshadowing her later death. she’s above Romeo, there’s a correlation to her being above him on the balcony and her being out of Romeo’s reach; this is a warning to him as he shouldn’t be anywhere near her.

Romeo’s emotive language changes dramatically when he meets Juliet; again, it is far more poetic and is such a contrast to how he spoke about his previous love, Rosaline. Earlier in the play (in Act 1 Scene 1), while describing his love for Rosaline, he says, “Why, then, O brawling love! O loving hate!” these two contradictory phrases known as oxymorons prove how Romeo’s perspective of love then was simply lust for Rosaline. The word ‘brawling’ effectively is language of war, not expected language of love. In particular, ‘loving hate’ suggests how his ‘love’ for Rosaline was not genuine, it was lust. Whereas, in Act 2 Scene 2, he uses phrases such as “dear saint” towards Juliet, this religious language differs from the way he spoke beforehand. The word ‘Saint’ in the Elizabethan era was a word regularly used as the church dominated topics of discussion, being such a controversial subject (Catholic and Protestant rivalry). Saints are often as having , which is a symbol of their holiness, moreover, Juliet’s innocence and goodness. Romeo's emotions change during the play in a very sudden and abrupt way. Shakespeare uses this to emphasize Romeo's character, language and action whilst enhancing his emotions, along with the use of courtly love. use of hyperboles is key to this.

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The very first line of the scene, Romeo says, "He jests at scars that never felt a wound." Romeo is talking about Mercutio joking about something he has never felt, which obviously would have irritated him, consequently he would have used a very bitter tone. This is not normally defined as language of love, especially with the body language and facial expressions the actor would have used to show this. He is talking about love but uses words that convey pain and suffering.

"It is the east, and Juliet is the Sun." In this line Romeo is talking about ...

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