A Library of literature InterestingnessThursday, November 18, 2021

First, the context of Romeo’s words: Romeo is in ~ the Capulets’ masked ball, with his girlfriend Mercutio. Mercutio has actually just told Romeo about a fairy named Queen Mab that enters young men’s minds as they dream, and makes castle dream the love and also romance. At the masking ball, Romeo spies Juliet and instantly drops in love through her; she also falls because that him. ‘O, she doth teach the torches to burn bright’ is Romeo’s very first response to clapping eye on Juliet.

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It’s precious dwelling top top this image for a moment. ‘O, she doth teach the torches to burn bright’: i.e. The torches don’t actually seem to be all that bright at all, when compared with the brightness and radiance of Juliet’s beauty. ‘Teach’ right here is a bit like ‘teaching who a lesson’ or ‘schooling’ someone: it’s obtained an waiting of competition to it. Romeo is saying that the (poor, dim) torches might learn a point or 2 from Juliet around how come shine brightly.


The ‘measure’ is the dance the is gift performed as Romeo speaks these words: once this run is over, that says, he will go up to her and also touch her hand (as dance partners might do prior to dancing together), and thus do ‘blessed’ his own poor hand by comes into call with hers. Romeo concludes his decided by questioning rhetorically whether his heart really did love anyone before he met Juliet. The answer, of course, is a big ‘No’. He ‘forswears’ or rejects any type of notion that he truly loved anyone (e.g. Rosaline) that came prior to Juliet. Now, though, he has seen true beauty, and also its name is Juliet.

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‘O, she doth teach the torches to burn bright’ is obviously rather over-the-top language, and also it’s precious bearing in psychic the comment that T. J. B. Spencer, in his notes to Romeo and also Juliet (Penguin Shakespeare)

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, that Romeo has actually not shed his ‘power of exaggerated language’. He is still susceptible to fall head-over-heels in love: at this phase he’s tho in love through the idea of gift in love, if you will. This is no to say that his feelings because that Juliet will not turn out come be an ext than simply ‘love for its own sake’, that course; but in numerous ways this decided marks the allude at which Romeo’s wandering heart finally finds an item truly worthy that its admiration and also devotion. However it’s not clear until afterwards – perhaps the minute when he and also Juliet flirt and kiss – that she, unequal Rosaline, is a match for him.