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Imagery in Romeo and Juliet

Imagery Examples in Romeo and Juliet:

Act I - Scene IV

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"wagoner..."   (Act I - Scene IV)

"Wagoner" is a coachman or driver. This description of her collar, whip, wagon, etc. demonstrates how tiny she is and imbues her with whimsical imagery that situates her story in the world of fantasy.

"took..."   (Act I - Scene V)

The kiss has moved from being compared to a prayer to a sin. Romeo transferred his sin to Juliet by kissing her and now must kiss her again to take the sin back onto his lips. Notice how the religious imagery has moved the two lovers from a saint and a pilgrim to mortals passing sin back and forth.

"gyves..."   (Act II - Scene II)

"Wanton" in this context means a spoiled child. Here, Juliet constructs an image of a spoiled child playing with a pet bird. The bird can fly but it cannot get far because it is connected to the child's hand by gyves, or shackles. Juliet compares herself to the spoiled child and Romeo to the shackled bird.

"Dove-feather'd raven..."   (Act III - Scene II)

A "dove-feather'd raven" is a black ominous bird, the raven, hidden within the white feathers of a love bird, the dove. A "wolvish-ravening lamb" is a saying that is similar to the modern saying a wolf in sheep's clothing. With all of these paradoxes, Juliet points to the seemingly two-faced nature of her lover: what she believed was his perfect and pure soul was actually a covering for a hideous and malicious interior.

"The dashing rocks thy seasick weary bark..."   (Act V - Scene III)

In this metaphor, Romeo compares his suicide to a desperate ship captain intentionally destroying his boat on rocks when his boat is weary. This imagery recalls Romeo's original characterization of his passionate grief as "the roaring sea."

"maw, thou womb..."   (Act V - Scene III)

A "maw" is a jaw generally associated with a ravenous animal. Here, Romeo conflates the image of death as devouring with the image of death as giving life in depicting it as a womb. His metaphors mix life and death together to suggest that his grief makes them indistinguishable.

"thy canopy ..."   (Act V - Scene III)

Notice how Paris goes back and forth between wedding night imagery and funeral imagery. The "canopy" is not a cloth covering to a bed, but the dust covering a head stone.

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