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Date of Award


Document Type

Thesis - Pacific Access Restricted

Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)



First Advisor

Jon Schamber

First Committee Member

Diane Borden

Second Committee Member

Alan Ray


This thesis examines the rhetorical significance of visual metaphors as they occur in film. In particular, it provides a rhetorical analysis of Baz Luhrmann's film William Shakespeare's: Romeo + Juliet . The thesis analyzes how religious visual metaphors construct meaning by creating visual narratives that are just as powerful as spoken or written metaphors. The thesis relies on Gozzi's (1999) three levels of metaphors—surface, deep, and meta-metaphors—for the analysis of visual metaphors surrounding Father Lawrence and images of Christ that appear in Luhrmann's film. The analysis indicates that the visual surface metaphors of Father Lawrence depict a central character that is seedy, weak, and inactive. The visual surface metaphors of the images of Christ depict this religious figure as omnipresent yet impotent. The analysis indicates that the visual deep metaphors of Father Lawrence define this character as infirmed and culpable for the tragedy of the film. The visual deep metaphors of the images of Christ define him as infirmed and confined. Taken together, the surface and deep visual metaphors contribute to the development of a meta-metaphor in Luhrmann's film that depicts the Catholic religion as dark. Ultimately, the visual surface, deep, and meta-metaphors contained in Luhrmann's film contribute to the construction of meaning. They provide reasons for the character's inadequacies, establish narratives that are not part of the literal narrative as presented in Luhrmann's film and Shakespeare's original work, and provide a postmodern religious audience with substantial visual narrative with which they can identify.




9780496117789 , 0496117785

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