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Olivia DAndrea
Mrs. Hope
LPS English
15 January 2016
Use of Allusions in Shakespeare
Shakespeares Romeo and Juliet is filled with many allusions- almost too many to count.
Shakespeare uses allusions to emphasize the theme and tone of the the reading and to emphasize
important moments in a plays storyline. Most of the allusions that Shakespeare uses are
associated with love, and more specifically, heavenly love. Many allusions contain references to
Greek gods and goddesses, mythological beings, or historical objects (mainly weapons).
Shakespeare use of allusions also manage to express a thought or idea using metaphors or
similes. Another interesting aspect is that Shakespeares allusions were mainly regarding
mythical Greek and Roman figures. This reflects the ideas from the rebirth of Greco-Roman
ideas, also known as the Renaissance. Unsurprisingly, Shakespeares works were written in and
took place in the Renaissance.
One allusion in act 1, scene 1 of Romeo and Juliet is used when Romeo is talking about
Rosalines unwillingness to marry and her desire to say chaste. Romeo says that Rosaline hath
Dians wit (1.1.217) which means that she has the mind of Diana, the Roman goddess of
Chastity and opposed love and marriage. She is being compared to this goddess because she is
not agreeing to be with Romeo under any circumstance. This helps to emphasize Romeos
frustration over Rosaline and how he desperately wants to be with her. It also brings out the irony
that Romeo is going to the party to win Rosaline over, but actually falls in love with Juliet, rather
than Rosaline.

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In Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare often alludes to Cupid and his role in the relationship
of Romeo and Juliet. He uses cupid to express the fact that their love was fate, and it was
destined by Cupid. It also helps to emphasize the importance of their romance, and to highlight
the recurring theme of love. For example, when Shakespeare writes: Alas that love, whose view
is muffled still, should without eyes see pathways to his will!! (1.1.176-177), he is emphasizing
the fact that Cupid blindly decides the fate of Romeos love, and if he were to see Rosaline, he
would surely help her fall in love with Romeo. It is also showing that love is blind, and even
though there are multiple reasons for Romeo to stop pursuing Rosaline, he chooses to anyway.
Cupid is also mentioned in Act 1, Scene 1, lines 199-200, when Romeo says Shell not be hit
With Cupids arrow. (1.1.199-200), he is once again talking about how Rosaline refuses to love
Lastly, Shakespeare often alludes to mythical, legendary, or well known objects, which
are often weapons. For instance, when Romeo and Mercutio are talking about their grand
entrance to the Capulets party, Romeo states: Well have no Cupid hoodwinked with a scarf,
bearing a Tartars painted bow of lath. (1.4.4-5) which means that they will not enter as timid
people dressed up as Cupid, instead, they will enter like tough men. The allusion to the Tartars
bow helps convey the masculine and strong demeanor that Romeo and Mercutio wish to enter
the party with. It also helps to emphasize the fact that, once again, Romeo wants to impress
Rosaline, which is an occurring theme in the first scene.
Shakespeares uses of allusions and references to Greek and Roman figures help to
accentuate the theme of Romeo and Juliet. It helps to convey different tones at various points in
the play, and to help the reader know what exactly is happening in a scene. Allusions also help to
foreshadow many events in Romeos life and to give a glimpse into what might happen to the

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characters. Allusions are a crucial part to any Shakespearean play and help to enhance and point
out important ideas and concepts to a reader.