Evans, Robert O. The Osier Cage:
Rhetorical Devices in Romeo and Juliet. Lexington: U of Kentucky P, 1966.

Thesis: In the introduction to his slim book (108 pages), Evans explains that his plan is to analyze only a few rhetorical devices in order to show how "Shakespeare used some of them to further his development of plot and character" (3). Following the introduction there are four chapters: "Oxymoron As Key to Structure," "The Osier Cage" (concerning Friar Laurence), "Mercutio's Apostrophe to Queen Mab," and "The Play's The Thing" (concerning the intersection between plot and character).

Evaluation: This is an extremely frustrating book. Evans often merely mentions rhetorical devices as an excuse to expound upon various aspects of Romeo and Juliet. What Evans has to say about the play is often sensible enough, but he skips from one thought to another and leaves ideas undeveloped. For instance, it's unclear why he refers to Mercutio's speech as an "Apostrophe to Queen Mab"; it's addressed to Romeo, not Queen Mab, and it's not an apostrophe.

Bottom Line: If you're interested in Shakespeare's use of rhetorical and poetic devices, read Mahood, not Evans.

   Author: Philip Weller
   Last Modified: 2 April 2002