"allusion" in ROMEO & JULIET:
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Posted by SONNET CLV on May 08, 19101 at 21:53:09:

In Reply to: Romeo and Juliet posted by Sue on May 08, 19101 at 18:28:26:

ROMEO & JULIET
William Shakespeare


"What is an example of allusion in ROMEO & JULIET?"

An "allusion" is a reference to something, like a book or a person. Here's what the THRALL & HIBBARD HANDBOOK TO LITERATURE says: "A figure of speech making casual reference to a famous historical or literary figure or event."

As in all of Shakespeare, there are many allusions in ROMEO & JULIET. A good place to look is Act II scene 4, where you'll find Mercutio talking to Benvolio, and one of the most famous of the allusions pops up around line 19 when Benvolio asks about Tybalt, and Mercutio responds "More than Prince of Cats." This reference of "Prince of Cats" refers to a Medieval fable about Reynard the Fox which featured a cat named Tybert. Shakespeare's audience would have known that tale and understood the joke Mercutio is making concerning the name of Tybalt.

In this same scene you'll find some additional allusions in Mercutio's speech around line 40, immediately after Romeo enters. Mercutio makes a reference to the Italian poet Petrarch who wrote love sonnets (over 300 of them) to a woman named Laura ... an another reference to Queen Dido from Virgil's AENEID. Dido was the Queen of Carthage and fell in love with the Trojan hero Aeneas who abandoned her when the commanded by his gods to leave Carthage and found his own kingdom (which eventually becomes Rome). Dido kills herself. Other allusions in the same speech are to Cleopatra, Helen and HEro, and Thisbe. You may look these us if you wish.

But there are many other spots in the play that feature allusions. And now that you know what to look for, you should be able to find them.

Hope this helps.


--SONNET CLV--




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