Hadlund 1

Lauren Hadlund

Mrs. Goertz

Enriched English 9/Hour 3

13 January, 2009

Light of Day, Dark of Night

"O, she doth teach the torches to burn bright! / It seems she hangs upon the check of night" (1.5.46-47) is a romantic example of light and dark imagery used by Shakespeare in Romeo and Juliet that helps to create vivid pictures for comparisons between characters and differences in mood. Light and dark imagery is one of the stronger literary techniques used in this play, typically showing up in the forms of night/day, stars, and moon.

The night and day imagery is not given a specific meaning- light isn't always positive, dark isn't always negative- but throughout the play they only switch roles once. This is when Romeo and Juliet are on their honeymoon, and they have woken up and realized it was morning. Both know that Romeo "must be gone and live, or stay and die" (3.5.11). One of the more famous spots where light and dark imagery is used is the balcony scene, in which Romeo speaks of Juliet as the "fair sun" (2.2.4), a "bright angel" (2.2.26), and says that "The brightness of her cheek would shame those stars / As daylight doth a lamp" (2.2.19-20). All of those are examples of light and dark imagery.

Another way that light and dark imagery shows up is with stars. A good example of this is when Juliet is speaking of Romeo, saying, "Take him and cut him out in little stars / And he will make the face of heaven so fine / That all the world will be in love with night" (3.2.22-24). This is another example of how in love they are and a vivid image; it's easy to picture the night sky littered with millions of stars and lit up. Shakespeare was a master at drawing pictures with words.

Romeo's line of "Arise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon" (2.2.4) is probably one of the most famous lines using light and dark imagery in Romeo and Juliet. The moon is not used as frequently as other astrological symbols, but it still has its importance in the play. Shakespeare uses the moon mainly as a comparison between the new love for Juliet, and his old infatuation for Rosaline.

Shakespeare used light and dark imagery in Romeo and Juliet to help make this a very vivid and believable play with characters that can be empathized with and understood. Because this play is so simple and yet so complex, it has been something that has thrived through generations of people, and it will always be a timeless classic.


A/N: I had to re-write my essay because the first one was too jumbled up and stuff... it was not fun. But this is what I came up with. Hopefully it's better.