Light and Dark Imagery in Romeo and Juliet

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Light and Dark Imagery in Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” Light and dark imagery is utilized throughout Shakespeare’s tragic love story of “Romeo and Juliet” to show contrast while creating mood and foreshadowing events. In this play, two lovers named Romeo Montague and Juliet Capulet fall into a zealous lust controlled by fate. Both light and darkness are embraced by the couple, creating a vibrant passion between the star-crossed children of bickering households. Contrasting the extreme shades of white and black helps strengthen our understanding of Romeo and Juliet’s passion for one another. Juliet’s distinct beauty is portrayed by Shakespeare’s usage of light and dark imagery. When Romeo first sees Juliet at Capulet’s ball, her beauty captivates his attention as if she were “a snowy dove trooping with crows” (I.v.55). Shakespeare uses the contrast between the light feathers of a dove, and the dark feathers of a crow to depict Romeo’s strong attraction to Juliet. He chooses her out of all the stunning people at the party. He describes her as “a rich jewel in an Ethiop’s ear” (I.v.53). Her magnificence radiates throughout the dark night, sparkling as if it were against the dark skin of an Ethiop. Her unique beauty distinguishes her from the other girls at the party. Shakespeare utilizes light and dark imagery to differentiate Rosaline, Romeo’s previous love, and Juliet. When Romeo takes Benvolio’s advice and compares Rosaline’s face to Juliet’s, he finds his “swan a crow” (I.iii.94). Rosaline was a swan of grace and beautiful white feathers, but once Romeo sees Juliet’s beauty, Rosaline is degraded to an unattractive black crow. Shakespeare uses dark and light imagery to create a mood of love and attraction towards Juliet. This mood foreshadows a kindling passion between the young lovers. Juliet also thinks of Romeo as a bright light in contrast to the dark night. When Juliet dies, she wants Romeo to be “cut in little stars/ And he will make...
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