What Are Examples of Similes in Romeo and Juliet?

By Staff WriterLast Updated May 27, 2020 7:24:28 PM ET
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Romeo and Juliet is widely regarded as one of William Shakespeare's greatest works. The play depicts a star-crossed romance that ends with the deaths of the main characters. With the city of fair Verona as the backdrop, Shakespeare uses figurative language to weave a tale. He commonly uses similes to show emotion and to demonstrate that two feelings, people, or objects are similar to each other using the words "like" or "as."

Love 'Pricks Like a Thorn'

In Act 1, Scene 4, Romeo says that love "pricks like a thorn." When he says this, Romeo questions whether love is as tender and soft as people claim it is. He says that love is painful and rough. He is not optimistic about love when he says this. He knows how much love can hurt.

Lovers' Tongues Are 'Like Softest Music'

In Act 2, Scene 2, Romeo claims that "lovers' tongues" are "like softest music to attending ears." In this passage, Romeo says that lovers saying each other's names throughout the night is reminiscent of sweet music. He says that hearing a lover say his name would be like hearing soft music. When he uses this simile, he shows the beauty of love.

This simile contrasts with some of Romeo's earlier opinions about love. Early in the play when he is heartbroken, Romeo talks poorly about love. In similes like this one, he speaks more highly of it. This makes it clear that his opinion changes based on the situation.

Juliet Is 'Like a Rich Jewel'

In Act 1, Scene 5, Romeo sees Juliet and describes her. He says, "It seems she hangs upon the cheek of night, like a rich jewel in an Ethiope's ear." In this simile, Romeo compares Juliet to a jewel sparkling against darkness. In many cases, Shakespeare uses similes to describe Juliet's rich beauty from Romeo's point of view.

Juliet's Love Is 'as Boundless as the Sea'

In Act 2, Scene 2, Juliet uses a simile to describe her love. She says, "My bounty is as boundless as the sea." In saying this, Juliet expresses that her love does not have a limit. It is deep. She also describes her love as her "bounty," which is a term often used to describe agriculture. Her love is like a generous gift from the earth. She uses this language to describe her passion and its roots.

Romeo Describes the Joy of Love as 'Schoolboys From Their Books'

In Act 2, Scene 2, Romeo describes the joy of love. The verse says, "Love goes toward love, as schoolboys from their books." He says that lovers who are together feel as happy as students who are leaving school. 

He follows that up with "But love from love, toward school with heavy looks." In this statement, Romeo is saying that two lovers leaving each other is akin to students being forced to return to school. In using this comparison, Romeo is saying that leaving Juliet is like having to return to a place he hates with a heavy heart.