Good Versus Bad: Night Versus Day

1547 words - 7 pages

“O Romeo, Romeo! wherefore art thou Romeo?” The famous line that everyone, literati or not, recognizes from the great tragedy, Romeo and Juliet. Romeo and Juliet, said to be the greatest love story of all time, is the archetypal star-crossed lovers story. However, there is more to this classic tale than first meets the eye. William Shakespeare intricately weaves infinite subtle details into the story, all of which have immense meaning and power. With well placed symbolism and countless metaphors, it would take years, centuries even, to unravel all of it. One of the more overarching symbolic metaphors is the incessant use of contrasts between night and day, dark and light. Based on prior research, it is known that many people have noticed this tropes, but few understand the meaning behind it. In the famous play Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare utilizes frequent metaphorical contrasts between night and day in order to convey that darkness is safety and light is danger.
As a general rule, light is identified with good and safety, while darkness is associated with evil and danger. The sun sheds light and refuge on the good, while the darkness of night cloaks the personifications of evil and creates uncertainty and fear. This idea about light versus dark has been held as principal for years and years, and can be seen in various myths and stories throughout the ages. Vampires, creatures of evil, come out at night to hunt, but are burned by the sun. In greek mythology, Helios, the god of the sun, is a strong hero while Selene, goddess of the moon, is a seductress. God and Jesus are frequently depicted with the Sun, but what is depicted with the moon, other than cackling witches? The idea has reasonable foundations. Good, honest men are working by day and tucked away in their homes at night. And it is the criminals, the killers, the low-life of the world who come out to play when the sun goes down. Friar Lawrence, the theoretical voice of reason, acknowledges this when he says, “The grey-eyed morn smiles on the frowning night, chequering the eastern clouds with streaks of light, and flecked darkness like a drunkard reels from forth day’s path and Titan’s fiery wheels: Now, ere the sun advance his burning eye, The day to cheer and night’s dank dew to dry...” He is depicting the prototypal idea that the morning banishes all the bad of the night, and allows the world to start a fresh. This is a good example of the traditional night is bad and day is good conception, articulated through Friar Lawrence’s commendations of the morning’s cheer on the night’s gloom.
Shakespeare inverts the familiar light versus dark perception with the idea that night allows safety while day brings danger and fear. Shakespeare deftly imbeds this new perception into the play by allowing good, progressive events to take place at night, before the degressive, and often fatal, events of the day. In Act II, Scene V discusses plans for a secret wedding under cover of night. This...

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