End-stopped line and Enjambment in “Romeo & Juliet” and “Sonnet 43”


Please explain End-stopped line and Enjambment in Romeo & Juliet and Shakespeare’s Sonnet 43? Very confusing terms indeed.


As you know end-stopped line receives pause or break at the end with a punctuation mark or period, commas, colons, or semi colons. So, it is opposite to enjambment, where no pause comes at the end and thought keeps going on to the next line. Look at these two lines from Romeo and Juliet,

From forth the fatal loins of these two foes

A pair of star-cross’d lovers take their life;

Here the first line uses enjambment. In order to understand it fully, you must move on to the next line, without taking break and finishing this thought. However, the second line exhibits end-stopped line.

Now, let us take a look at another instance of end-stopped line from Shakespeare’s “Sonnet 43,”

When most I wink, then do mine eyes best see,

For all the day they view things unrespected;

But when I sleep, in dreams they look on thee,

And darkly bright, are bright in dark directed.

Here you can note all the lines are end-stopped with punctuation and thoughts come to an end.