Romeo and Juliet

Light/Dark and Day/Night Symbol Analysis

Read our modern English translation.
Light/Dark and Day/Night Symbol Icon
Romeo and Juliet is filled with imagery of light and dark. But while light is traditionally connected with "good" and dark with "evil," in Romeo and Juliet the relationship is more complex. Romeo and Juliet constantly see each other as forms of light. In the balcony scene, Romeo describes Juliet as the sun, while Juliet describes Romeo as stars. But the relationship between light and dark is complicated by the lover's need for the privacy of darkness in order to be together. As Romeo says when the sun dawns on the morning when he is to be banished from Verona, "More light and light, more dark and dark our woes!" So while Romeo and Juliet see each other as light, in order for their light to shine brightly it needs the contrast of darkness, of night, to make it powerful.

Light/Dark and Day/Night Quotes in Romeo and Juliet

The Romeo and Juliet quotes below all refer to the symbol of Light/Dark and Day/Night. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Love Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Simon & Schuster edition of Romeo and Juliet published in 2004.
Act 1, scene 5 Quotes
Oh, she doth teach the torches to burn bright!
It seems she hangs upon the cheek of night
Like a rich jewel in an Ethiope's ear,
Beauty too rich for use, for earth too dear.
So shows a snowy dove trooping with crows
As yonder lady o'er her fellows shows.
The measure done, I'll watch her place of stand,
And, touching hers, make blessèd my rude hand.
Did my heart love till now? Forswear it, sight!
For I ne'er saw true beauty till this night.
Related Characters: Romeo (speaker), Juliet
Related Symbols: Light/Dark and Day/Night
Page Number: 1.5.51-60
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Unlock explanations and citation info for this and every other Romeo and Juliet quote.

Plus so much more...

Get LitCharts A+
Already a LitCharts A+ member? Sign in!
Act 2, scene 2 Quotes
But, soft! what light through yonder window breaks?
It is the east, and Juliet is the sun!
Related Characters: Romeo (speaker), Juliet
Related Symbols: Light/Dark and Day/Night
Page Number: 2.2.1-2
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

O, swear not by the moon, the inconstant moon,
That monthly changes in her circled orb,
Lest that thy love prove likewise variable.
Related Characters: Juliet (speaker)
Related Symbols: Light/Dark and Day/Night
Page Number: 2.2.114-116
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Good-night, good-night! Parting is such sweet sorrow
That I shall say good-night till it be morrow.
Related Characters: Juliet (speaker), Romeo
Related Symbols: Light/Dark and Day/Night
Page Number: 2.2.199-201
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Act 3, scene 2 Quotes
Come, gentle night, — come, loving black brow'd night,
Give me my Romeo; and when he shall die,
Take him and cut him out in little stars,
And he will make the face of Heaven so fine
That all the world will be in love with night,
And pay no worship to the garish sun.
Related Characters: Juliet (speaker), Romeo
Related Symbols: Light/Dark and Day/Night
Page Number: 3.2.21-27
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Act 3, scene 5 Quotes
Wilt thou be gone? it is not yet near day.
It was the nightingale, and not the lark,
That pierc'd the fearful hollow of thine ear;
Nightly she sings on yond pomegranate tree.
Believe me love, it was the nightingale.
Related Characters: Juliet (speaker), Romeo
Related Symbols: Light/Dark and Day/Night
Page Number: 3.5.1-5
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Get the entire Romeo and Juliet LitChart as a printable PDF.
Romeo and juliet.pdf.medium

Light/Dark and Day/Night Symbol Timeline in Romeo and Juliet

The timeline below shows where the symbol Light/Dark and Day/Night appears in Romeo and Juliet. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1, scene 1
Love Theme Icon
Individuals vs. Society Theme Icon
...Montague says she's glad that Romeo, her son, wasn't involved. Benvolio says that just before dawn he saw Romeo looking melancholy in a grove of sycamore trees. None of them know... (full context)
Act 1, scene 5
Love Theme Icon
Fate Theme Icon
Individuals vs. Society Theme Icon
...who she is, but immediately forgets Rosaline. He says that Juliet teaches the "torches to burn bright !"(1.5.41). At the same time, Tybalt recognizes Romeo and prepares to attack this party-crashing Montague. (full context)
Act 2, scene 2
Love Theme Icon
...sees Juliet walk out onto a balcony. In a whisper he compares her to the sun, and hides beneath her balcony. (full context)
Act 3, scene 2
Love Theme Icon
Individuals vs. Society Theme Icon
Juliet begs nightfall to hurry in its coming, and to bring Romeo with it. She imagines that when... (full context)
Love Theme Icon
Juliet tells the Nurse to find Romeo and bid him come that night to her room so that they can consummate their marriage. The Nurse knows Romeo is... (full context)
Act 3, scene 3
Love Theme Icon
Fate Theme Icon
The Friar tells Romeo to go spend the night with Juliet and then before dawn to flee Verona for Mantua. There he should wait... (full context)
Act 3, scene 4
Love Theme Icon
Fate Theme Icon
Individuals vs. Society Theme Icon
It is just before dawn. Capulet, Lady Capulet, and Paris have stayed up late, discussing Juliet and the tragedy of... (full context)
Act 3, scene 5
Love Theme Icon
Individuals vs. Society Theme Icon
Language and Word Play Theme Icon
The call of a bird wakes Romeo and Juliet just before dawn, but Juliet claims the bird is a nightingale rather than the lark greeting the day.... (full context)
Love Theme Icon
Individuals vs. Society Theme Icon
Juliet stops pretending. She says it's day and Romeo must go. (full context)
Act 4, scene 1
Love Theme Icon
Fate Theme Icon
Individuals vs. Society Theme Icon
...will appear as if she has died. He tells her to agree to marry Paris Thursday, but to take the potion Wednesday night. Instead of a wedding, the Capulets will hold... (full context)