Author’s Note: Finally, we get to a weekend I don’t have a tournament to attend or run! Speech & Debate is a great activity with a team I love coaching, but I’m happy to have a weekend to recharge (or, you know, grade on the couch). Hope you are having a good weekend too!
Q: How does figurative language in this act reveal the relationship between Romeo & Juliet?
A: Figurative language in Act II reveals that Romeo & Juliet’s relationship is a terrible idea, but that no one around them is willing to stop it: the Nurse doesn’t see that it’s a terrible idea, and Friar Laurence encourages them to go ahead even though he already knows it’s a huge mistake.
First things first: the Nurse. From the first time we meet her, we’re shown that she has zero sense: her employer, Lady Capulet, tells her multiple times “Enough of this. I pray thee, hold thy peace*,” but the Nurse continues sharing embarrassing stories about Juliet and getting off topic (Shakespeare I.iii.52). The stories and her affection show that she loves Juliet, but also that she doesn’t know when to stop talking. Later on, we find out that the Nurse won’t stop talking even when she doesn’t know what she’s talking about. While she is arranging Juliet’s marriage to Romeo, the Nurse mentions “there is a nobleman in town, one Paris, that would fain lay knife aboard*, but she, good soul, had as lief see a toad, a very toad, as see him*. I anger her sometimes and tell her that Paris is the properer man” (Shakespeare II.iv.104-109). The Nurse uses figurative language to tell Romeo that Paris wants to marry Juliet, but that Juliet isn’t interested, and yet the Nurse still tells Juliet sometimes that she should marry Paris anyway.
One of the adults who should be giving good advice to the lovers is clearly not taking her responsibility seriously. But what about Romeo’s father-figure, Friar Laurence? He’s a priest, after all–you would imagine giving good advice is his job. (Not so much.) Friar Laurence has one benefit over the Nurse: he at least understands that the marriage between Romeo & Juliet is a terrible idea. Marriage between Romeo and anyone is a terrible idea, since the Montague leaps from one love to another. Friar Laurence “badest me bury love. / Not in a grave, another out to have*” (Shakespeare II.iii.82-83). The priest’s figurative language shows that Romeo shouldn’t get over Rosaline by falling in love with someone else immediately, but that’s what he does. Despite recognizing that this isn’t deep or lasting love, the Friar agrees to marry Romeo and Juliet in the hope that “this alliance may so happy prove / To turn your households’ rancor to pure love” (Shakespeare II.iii.91-92). He has a greater reward in mind, but knows going into this marriage that it is a terrible idea.
In general, the figurative language in Act II reveals to me that Romeo & Juliet’s relationship is an awful plan; even worse, none of the “responsible adults” around them seem able or willing to warn them away from it. Sheesh!
*examples of figurative language from this act