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Shakespeare's Use of Sonnets in Romeo and Juliet
When discussing the great writers of the world, one name that invariably appears is William Shakespeare. Shakespeare will always be known as arguably the greatest playwright to have ever lived, his writings always studied by classrooms of children around the world. Of all Shakespeare's plays and writings, perhaps his best-known work is the tragic love story Romeo and Juliet. Very few pieces of English literature have been reproduced, parodied and modernized like Romeo and Juliet. Despite the fact that many people have never actually read the play or seen it performed, most could give a fairly accurate plot summary, and almost every adult could tell you where the phrase 'A rose by any other name' comes from. Not only is Romeo and Juliet a moving and poignant love story, it is also a perfect example of Shakespeare's incredible skill with words and poetic form. In the play Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare uses sonnets to provide key insights into the character's state of mind.
The most famous sonnet in Romeo and Juliet occurs in act 1 scene 4 when the young lovers meet for the first time. Shakespeare very subtly melds the dialog of Romeo and Juliet into a perfect sonnet.
If I profane with my unworthiest hand
This holy shrine, the gentle fine is this:
My lips, two blushing pilgrims, ready stand
To smooth that rough touch with a tender kiss.
Good pilgrim, you do wrong your hand too much,
Which mannerly devotion shows in this;
For saints have hands that pilgrims' hands do touch,
And palm to palm is holy palmers' kiss.
Have not saints lips, and holy palmers too?
Ay, pilgrim, lips that they must use in prayer.
O, then, dear saint, let lips do what hands do;
They pray -- grant thou, lest faith turn to despair.
Saints do not move, though grant for prayers' sake.
Then move not, while my prayer's effect I take. (1.4.206-219)
They work together to complete quatrains and each work with the other's rhyme. Romeo continues the theme of religious imagery that has characterized his speech so far. Juliet picks up on this theme and plays with it, conflicting Romeo's metaphor with the literal interpretation of his words. This conflict is played throughout the sonnet and is resolved with Romeo's final line, signified by his kiss
Romeo and Juliet's interaction however is not concluded with the sestet in lines 214-219. In lines 220-223 we see the lovers continue to
Names mentioned in this term paper
Romeo, Juliet, William Shakespeare, JULIET Saints, Juliet picks, JULIET Ay, Benvolio,
Keywords referenced in this term paper
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