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Madelyn Divino
Mrs. Hope
Honors World Lit. and Writing Workshop
15 January 2016
Allusions Essay

In the tragic play, Romeo and Juliet written by Shakespeare, two lovers from feuding
families in the city of Verona struggle to find their happiness together while still trying to stay
loyal to their own families. However, as many know, the story of Romeo and Juliet does not
necessarily end with a happily ever after, and this is foreshadowed throughout the entire play.
Shakespeare emphasizes Romeo and Juliets tragic love through the use of many allusions
throughout the play, especially those pertaining to romantic figures. Ultimately these allusions
provide foreshadowing and reveal the fate of the lovers.
One of the reoccurring romantic figures that Shakespeare often alludes to is Cupid.
Cupid, who is the son of Venus, is also known as the god of love. He is an infant, who carries a
bow and arrow, and it is known that whoever is shot with his arrow falls in love with the first
person/ item he/she sees, therefore making Cupid a very famous symbol of love. He first appears
in Act 1, Scene 1 in the play, where Romeo sadly talks about his unrequited love for Rosaline.
He says to Benvolio that she will not be hit/ With Cupids arrow because she hath Dians wit
(1.1. 216-217). Shakespeare incorporates Cupid here to show how love can be extremely painful,
because of how madly in love Romeo was with Rosaline, but she did not feel the same towards
him. By saying that she would not be hit with Cupids arrow is displaying that Rosaline would
never change the way she feels towards Romeo and that she has completely sworn off love. In
addition to Cupid that was referenced in this quote, Diana, the goddess known for her vow of

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chastity, appeared as well. This further illustrates that Romeos attempts to win her over are
completely fruitless. Cupid then appears again when Mercutio is mocking Romeos love for
Rosaline, and compares him to King Cophetua who loved the beggar maid after Cupid shot
him with his arrow (2.1.17). Later on, Mercutio mocks Romeo again with another allusion to
Cupid by saying that Romeos heart is cleft with the blind bow-boys butt shaft, or in other
words, Cupids unbarbed arrow (2.4.17). These are derogatory comments towards Romeo that
compare him to people that have been helplessly shot by Cupid, falling in love with the first
person they see. This happened to King Cophetua, who became madly in love with the beggar
maid, and Mercutio is saying that this happened to Romeo as well, where he blindly fell in love
with Rosaline. Finally, another allusion in the play, which does not reference Cupid, alludes to
Diana again. Romeo says in a soliloquy that Juliet is the sun, who must kill the envious
moon, whose vestal livery is but sick and green (2.2.1-2; 8). Romeo is pleading for Juliet to
not serve for Diana, represented by the moon, so she could love him. He is saying that virginity
is not fitting for Juliet, and he tries to convince her of this by describing how awful Dianas
lifestyle is.
Many of these allusions are also examples of foreshadowing. For example, after Mercutio
mentioned how King Cophetua fell in love with the beggar maid, he says, He heareth not, he
stirreth not, he moveth not, talking about King Cophetuas behavior after he helplessly fell in
love with a woman of such low class (2.1.18). Clearly, based off of Mercutios descriptions, King
Cophetua was absolutely mesmerized by the woman, leaving all sense and logic behind. His love
for her was so strong that he became paralyzed in a way, where all he wanted was for her to love
him in return. This foreshadows Romeos untimely death, where Romeo commits suicide
because he believes that Juliet died, just as King Cophetua became extremely dependent on his

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new love and swore that he would kill himself if he could not have her. Another allusion that
foreshadows the demise of Romeo and Juliet is when Juliet refers to Echo, who was a nymph
from Greek mythology who was in love with Narcissus, but could only repeat what he said. After
Narcissus shunned her, Echo withered away, leaving her repetitive voice behind. Juliet tells
Romeo that she would tear the cave where Echo lies/ And make her airy tongue more hoarse
than [her own]/ With repetition of My Romeo! (2.2. 172-174). Juliet is expressing her
dependence on Romeo and her extreme love for him here by comparing herself to Echo. This
implies that Juliet would do anything for her love, including living the depressing life of the
pitiful Echo, which foreshadows that she will commit suicide when she sees that Romeo is dead.
When she says this, it can be perceived that her love for him is so strong that it will be the cause
of her own quietus. Romeo and Juliet love each other to the point where they care more about the
other than they care about their own well-being, which foreshadows a tragic end for the two.
To conclude, the tragic love story known as Romeo and Juliet written by Shakespeare is
about two lovers who come from feuding families. By alluding to many romantic figures
throughout the play such as Cupid, Diana, and Echo, Shakespeare emphasizes Romeo and
Juliets tragic love, revealing their fate. The allusions themselves progress as the plot does to
show how the lovers first meet, fall madly in love, experience hardships together, and eventually
unite in death, as shown by the aforementioned quotes. Romeo and Juliet related so much to the
allusions in the play that characters themselves became a common allusion in many texts today.

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