Roman Holiday (1953)

Brief Intro

“Roman Holiday,” directed by William Wyler and released in 1953, is a classic romantic comedy featuring Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck. The film tells the story of a princess who escapes her royal duties for a day in Rome and falls in love with an American journalist. Hepburn’s performance won her an Academy Award, and the film remains a beloved classic for its charming storyline and beautiful depiction of Rome.

Literary Devices Used in Roman Holiday

1. Irony

Movie SceneDevice Example
Princess Ann’s escape from her royal lifeSituational irony: A princess, who typically embodies freedom and power, escapes to experience ordinary life.
Joe Bradley’s initial plan to exploit Ann’s identityDramatic irony: The audience knows Joe’s intentions while Ann remains unaware.

2. Symbolism

Movie SceneDevice Example
Ann’s haircutSymbolism of freedom and transformation
The Mouth of Truth sceneSymbolism of honesty and hidden truths

3. Foreshadowing

Movie SceneDevice Example
Ann expressing her desire for freedom early in the filmForeshadows her escape
Joe hiding his true profession from AnnForeshadows the eventual revelation and conflict

4. Motif

Movie SceneDevice Example
Use of Roman landmarksRecurring motif that emphasizes the theme of exploration and freedom
Ann’s royal dutiesRecurring motif highlighting the constraints of her life

5. Juxtaposition

Movie SceneDevice Example
Royal life vs. ordinary lifeJuxtaposition of Ann’s luxurious life and her experiences as an ordinary person
Joe’s professionalism vs. personal feelingsJuxtaposition of his career goals and his developing affection for Ann

6. Metaphor

Movie SceneDevice Example
Ann’s day in RomeMetaphor for personal freedom and self-discovery
Joe’s cameraMetaphor for his role as an observer of Ann’s life and his own ethical dilemmas

7. Allusion

Movie SceneDevice Example
References to historical Roman sitesAllusion to the rich history and culture of Rome
Ann’s comparison to CinderellaAllusion to the fairy tale, highlighting her transformation

8. Hyperbole

Movie SceneDevice Example
Joe’s exaggerated stories to IrvingHyperbole to emphasize his desperation for a big story
Ann’s dramatic reaction to freedomHyperbole to show her excitement and sense of liberation

9. Personification

Movie SceneDevice Example
Rome itself as a characterPersonification of the city, giving it life and character
The Mouth of Truth scenePersonification of the stone face, adding a sense of magic and legend

10. Irony

Movie SceneDevice Example
Ann returning to her royal lifeIrony of gaining freedom only to willingly return to her duties
Joe and Ann’s partingIrony of their deep connection but inevitable separation due to their roles

Character Analysis Through Literary Devices

Character Studies

Princess Ann

Literary DeviceExplanation
SymbolismAnn’s haircut symbolizes her desire for freedom and personal transformation.
IronyHer royal status contrasts with her yearning for a normal life, highlighting her inner conflict.

Joe Bradley

Literary DeviceExplanation
JuxtapositionJoe’s initial professional intentions versus his genuine affection for Ann showcase his character development.
MetaphorHis camera represents his dual role as a journalist and a participant in Ann’s adventure.

Character Dynamics

Literary DeviceExplanation
ForeshadowingEarly hints of Ann’s desire for freedom set the stage for her escape and subsequent relationship with Joe.
AllusionAnn’s comparison to Cinderella emphasizes the fairy-tale aspect of their relationship, underscoring the temporary nature of their bond.

Thematic Analysis

Freedom vs. Duty

SymbolismAnn’s haircut represents her desire for freedom from her royal duties.
JuxtapositionThe contrast between Ann’s royal responsibilities and her experiences in Rome highlights the theme of personal freedom.

Identity and Self-Discovery

MetaphorAnn’s day in Rome serves as a metaphor for her journey of self-discovery.
IronyThe irony of Ann finding herself through pretending to be someone else underscores the theme of identity.

Romance and Sacrifice

HyperboleJoe’s exaggerated stories and actions emphasize the lengths he goes to for his career and later for Ann.
IronyThe irony of Joe and Ann’s deep connection but inevitable separation due to their societal roles highlights the theme of sacrifice in romance.

Cinematic Techniques That Enhance Literary Devices

Visual and Sound Techniques

Literary DeviceTechniqueExplanation
SymbolismUse of lighting and shadowsEnhances the symbolism of Ann’s transformation and freedom.
JuxtapositionCamera angles and framingHighlights the contrast between Ann’s royal life and her adventures in Rome.
MetaphorMusic and sound effectsThe playful and romantic score underscores the metaphor of Ann’s journey of self-discovery.

Key Scene Analysis

Scene Selection

Scene 1: Ann’s Escape

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Breakdown: This scene uses irony and symbolism to highlight Ann’s desire for freedom. The dark, confined spaces of the palace contrast with the open, vibrant streets of Rome.

Scene 2: The Mouth of Truth

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Breakdown: This scene employs personification and metaphor. The Mouth of Truth symbolizes honesty, and the playful interaction between Joe and Ann represents their growing trust and affection.

Scene 3: The Final Goodbye

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Breakdown: The final scene is rich with irony and juxtaposition. The grandeur of the royal setting contrasts with the emotional intimacy of Joe and Ann’s farewell, emphasizing the theme of sacrifice in romance.


Interactive Quiz

  1. Which literary device is used when Ann cuts her hair?
  2. What does Joe’s camera symbolize in the film?
    • A) His wealth
    • B) His profession
    • C) His role as an observer and participant
    • D) His love for Ann
  3. Which theme is highlighted by the contrast between Ann’s royal life and her adventures in Rome?
    • A) Freedom vs. Duty
    • B) Love and Betrayal
    • C) Revenge
    • D) Friendship
  4. What does the Mouth of Truth symbolize?
    • A) Wealth
    • B) Honesty
    • C) Fear
    • D) Anger
  5. Which device is evident in Joe and Ann’s inevitable separation?