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Shakespeare uses the rose most often as a symbol of transient beauty, as in "Against the blown rose may they stop their nose That kneel'd unto the buds." (Antony and Cleopatra), or "Ay, so you serve us Till we serve you; but when you have our roses, You barely leave our thorns to prick ourselves And mock us with our bareness" (All's Well that Ends Well), or " Sweet roses do not so; Of their sweet deaths are sweetest odours made: And so of you, beauteous and lovely youth, When that shall fade, my verse distills your truth" (Sonnet 54) or "For women are as roses, whose fair flower Being once display'd, doth fall that very hour." (Twelfth Night)

The plays in which the rose is used as a symbol are the three Henry VI plays, notably Henry VI Part I in Act II Scene 4 where English lords wear white and red roses to show what side they have chosen (hence the "War of the Roses"). The use of roses to charactrerize the Yorkist and Lancastrian sides runs through all three plays and is finally used in Richard III to show that reconciliation is nigh: " And then, as we have ta'en the sacrament, We will unite the white rose and the red".

Notwithstanding that a rose is shown on the cover of the Scholastic edition of the play and notwithstanding the line "that which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet", roses are not a significant symbol in Romeo and Juliet.

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13y ago
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11y ago

Shakespeare has Juliet in Romeo and Juliet say, "What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any othe word would smell as sweet."

Don't think that this is necessarily what Shakespeare thought. The lines in a play express the character's thought, not the author's.

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12y ago

You aren't perchance thinking of the characters Rosencrantz and Guildenstern from the play Hamlet, are you?

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