- Considering the readings we have done so far in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, I do think Romeo and Juliet are engaging in ‘Puppy love’. In our modern society, these two lovers are considered ‘teenagers’. However, in the Elizabethian era, people were practically considered to be in adulthood by the age of fourteen. This, however, was only a social construct at the time and has been proven wrong as modern psychology states that “From birth onward, the human brain continues to develop and mature. For adolescents, the amount of information they can process continues to increase” (Mentalhelp.net, 2019). This means that the emotional information capacity of Romeo and Juliet, 17 and 13 years old, have not been developed to its fullest capability, therefore the two children will not be able to feel as much emotional depth as they would’ve in their coming years. Some may argue that they were in true love as Romeo demands that they “must combine by holy marriage” (2.3.60-61), literally a day after they met. In the Elizabethian times, matrimony was such an essential milestone in life that “a boy and a girl were allowed to marry at the age of 14 and 12” (elizabethanenglandlife.com, 2019). It was also “arranged for wealth and reputation. Families of landowners were expected to marry just to augment their land possession” (elizabethanenglandlife.com, 2019). Marrying out of love was considered extremely foolish, which shows the ignorance of the two lovers who have absolutely no plan for their life or future, only driven by the emotion that is completely new to Juliet and still unclear to Romeo. Romeo has claimed that he was in love before as he described Rosaline’s as “too fair, too wise, wisely too fair” (1.1.218-119), describing her exterior. His love for Juliet was also sparked by exterior beauty as he feels that “[her] beauty [is] too rich for use, [as her beauty] is too dear [for the earth]” (1.5.47). Love, according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, is “[a] strong affection for another arising out of kinship or personal ties” (Merriam-Webster, 2019). Romeo has no kinship whatsoever to Juliet, and he has no personal ties. His ‘love’ is rather an admiration for beauty, the same way one would admire a fine gemstone. Juliet isn’t an exception to this either as she thinks of Romeo as “dear perfection which he owes without
that title [of a Montague] (2.2.45-46)”. “Perfection”, taking into consideration of how much time they had to know each other, is probably taken mostly from his looks. There are many beautiful and handsome people out there. Romeo and Juliet sure may have found a person to be attracted to, but who’s to say that they won’t find another? Such emotional drives based on little information and spontaneous impulses should not be considered “love’.
2. Kulich’s argument that Romeo and Juliet should not be viewed as children is reasonable and historically accurate but it is not scientifically arguable as past social norms (like getting married ‘young’) does not follow proven psychology research done in the modern society. Romeo, 17, and Juliet, 14, are considered full grown adults in the Elizabethan times, yet their mental and emotional development is still in the adolescence, one of the most turbulent stages in the human life cycle that can easily cause emotional confusion. We can see that the way Romeo deals and act upon his emotions are irrational and dangerous as he literally puts his life in danger to talk to Juliet. This proves emotional immaturity. Similar to how an angry child may throw a fit but how an adult may explain their anger, the two children are indeed dealing with intense emotion, but are seen dealing with it poorly and dangerously. Although the rate of brain development increase is not as great as it once was during the middle childhood years, it has been proven to continue until the age of 25. Therefore, Romeo and Juliet should be considered as children.