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The Osier Cage

The Osier Cage: Rhetorical Devices in Romeo and Juliet

Copyright Date: 1966
Pages: 120
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  • Book Info
    The Osier Cage
    Book Description:

    By studying the diction ofRomeo and Juliet, Robert O. Evans examines this, the most rhetorical of Shakespeare's plays, in terms of an Aristotelian critical category, which has been neglected in modern times. Inherent in his methodology is the assumption thatRomeo and Julietis best regarded as drama, not as pure poetry, though essentially it is the rhetorical brilliance of the poetry that is considered.

    Evans begins with an analysis of the important speeches ofRomeo and Julietand defines the controlling devices Shakespeare wove into them, especially oxymoron. He then follows with a discussion of the role of Friar Laurence, whom the author finds is a catalyst between the warring houses and between the lovers and the outer world of Verona. Evans concludes with an examination of Mercutio's famous Queen Mab speech, which, he points out, has an integral relationship to the structure of the tragedy as a whole.

    An analysis of the rhetorical devices of the play, Evans believes, demonstrates the thesis that the tragic effect ofRomeo and Julietis one of fulfillment, with the tragedy arising from the character of the protagonists rather than from circumstance.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-6262-1
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
    Robert O. Evans
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. CHAPTER ONE Introduction
    (pp. 1-17)

    This essay works towards an interpretation ofRomeo and Julietfrom a limited point of view. It is an exegesis of Shakespeare’s rhetoric, particularly his use of certain of the tropes and figures of speech so familiar to writers in the Renaissance but so often concealed from us. Nevertheless, even minute analysis should adhere to certain general principles. Inherent in the whole following methodology is the assumption that Romeo and Juliet is best considered as drama, not as pure poetry, though it is essentially the rhetorical splendor of the poetry that will be examined. One chapter investigates some of the...

  5. CHAPTER TWO Oxymoron As Key To Structure
    (pp. 18-41)

    If anything seems clear to us from a study of Shakespeare’s dramatic method, we see that he was a careful weaver of strands to make whole and unique the fabric of his plays. Even Ben Jonson, who was probably responsible for the conception of Shakespeare as the “natural” genius as opposed to the deliberate artist, though he might ask some reservations, would have to concur. “Yet must I not give Nature all,” he wrote, “Thy Art, I My gentle Shakespeare must enjoy a part” (“Upon Master William Shakespeare,” prefatory to the 1640 edition of thePoems).

    Most of the threads...

  6. CHAPTER THREE The Osier Cage
    (pp. 42-67)

    The balcony scene inRomeo and Juliet,surely the greatest love scene in the history of the theatre, ends by coming full circle, to restate Romeo’s proposition when he first saw Juliet leaning over the balcony, her cheek resting upon her hand: “O, that I were a glove upon that hand” (II.i.66). In his final speech, when the scene is finished, he repeats that note:

    Sleep dwell upon thine eyes, peace in thy breast!

    Would I were sleep and peace, so sweet to rest!

    Hence will I to my ghostly friar’s cell,

    His help to crave and my dear hap...

  7. CHAPTER FOUR Mercutio’s Apostrophe To Queen Mab
    (pp. 68-86)

    One of the most puzzling and difficult speeches to interpret inRomeo and Julietis Mercutio’s lengthy address to Queen Mab beginning at I.iv.53. For some forty-one lines Mercutio apostrophizes, until Romeo interrupts him with “Peace, peace, Mercutio, peace! / Thou talk’st of nothing.” It is surprising how many critics have taken Romeo’s ironic animadversion at face value, apparently concluding that Mercutio did indeed talk of nothing, at least nothing germane to the drama Shakespeare had been so carefully constructing. That is to say, they explain the speech as a digression in what is otherwise a tightly plotted and very...

  8. CHAPTER FIVE The Play’s The Thing
    (pp. 87-100)

    While this essay is primarily concerned with special aspects of the diction ofRomeo and Juliet,particularly Shakespeare’s use of tropes and figures of rhetoric, it will have been seen that the diction does support certain interpretations of the play against others that have been suggested. An examination of the devices of diction in a play likeRomeo and Julietleads naturally toward a consistent interpretation of its meaning. They contribute to the meaning of the play especially as they are used to further the development of character, and sometimes plot, though they are also sometimes used for purposes of...

  9. Notes
    (pp. 101-104)
  10. Index
    (pp. 105-108)