Helen of Troy allusion from Romeo and Juliet

Allusion location: Act 2, Scene 4, line 107

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Quote: “Helen and Hero were sluts and harlots.”

Plot context:

Romeo has just arranged for Juliet and his marriage and is walking home when Mercutio spots him. Mercutio makes jokes about how his girl is so beautiful that she makes the most beautiful women in history look ugly. Mercutio also mentions that Romeo gave them the slip the previous night. Romeo replies and asked what they meant and Mercutio starts making sexual jokes about what Romeo was doing the previous night. Romeo responds to Mercutios jokes humorously and continues to joke with Mercutio.


Helen of Troy is sometimes referred to the face that launched a thousand ships. Helen of Troy was said to be the daughter of Zeus and was kidnapped by Theseus, king of Athens, and Pirithous, king of Larissa because they wanted to make love with the daughter of Zeus before they died. When Helen was older she had thousands of suitors. To pick the suitor Helens father made the suitors all sweat to protect Helen and whoever her husband should be and then created a competition which Menelaus won. When Menelaus took Helen back to Pleistheines and they lived happily for about a year before Paris, the prince of Troy, came to Pleistheines and fell in love with Helen. When Menelaus left to go to a funeral in Crete, Paris and Helen fled for Troy with some of Menelaus’s wealth. When Pleistheines returned and found out what had happened he called for all of Helens old suitors to keep their promise and help him bring back Helen.


The reference to Helen of Troy has often been used to compare a beautiful woman to Helen of Troy to say that they are beautiful. The allusion to Helen of Troy is foreshadowing because Romeo and Paris both fight over Juliet just like Menelaus fought Paris over Helen.

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