Romeo and Juliet: Imagery of Love William Shakespeare’s play, “The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet,” is the story of two “star crossed” lovers who both meet a tragic end. Romeo and Juliet is a tragedy; however, the poetic and vivid manner in which Shakespeare engages the viewer or reader make this a beautiful play. The story of Romeo and Juliet is timeless, and it has provided a model for many other stories. The story line or plot in Romeo and Juliet is well loved by many around the world, but that is not what gives the play its special quality.
Just as in most of Shakespeare’s plays, words and phrases with double meanings, imagery and poetry are all used to create a play that is not only a pleasure for the eyes, but one for the ears and mind as well. The following statement by Romeo in act one scene one provides a good example of this:
Love is a smoke made with the fume of sighs,
Being purg’d, a fire sparkling in lover’s eyes,
Being vex’d, a sea nourish’d with loving tears.
What is it else? A madness most discreet,
A choking gall, and a preserving sweet (Riverside, 1.1.190-193).
Shakespeare’s use of these components is exquisite and allows for much deeper involvement by the reader or viewer. In Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare uses imagery in the forms of lightness and darkness, animals, and plants or herbs to provide the reader or viewer with a more vivid and enjoyable experience.
Lightness and Darkness
Imagery of lightness and darkness is used extensively throughout Romeo and Juliet to symbolize and/or describe events that take place. Capulet describes the party he is planning with lightness and darkness, “Earth-treading stars that make dark heaven light”(1.2.25). Stars continue to have a role in the play as Juliet mentions her own death she claims,
Take him and cut him out in little stars,
Breuer, Horst. “Romeo’s niece: a note on ’Romeo and Juliet.”
Notes and Queries March 1997: 44.1. Gale Group. Cameron University Library., Lawton, OK.14 July. 2000