Romeo and Juliet – ACT II: A Critical Response

Based on our readings so far, do you agree or disagree that Romeo and Juliet’s relationship is one of “’infatuated children’ engaging in ‘puppy love’”? Why or why not? Provide at least two pieces of textual evidence. 

Romeo and Juliet’s relationship is one of two children engaging in puppy love. Puppy love is defined as a shallow attraction, usually experienced by younger individuals. Although Romeo and Juliet are regarded as adults, the way they process emotions is still that of 14-year-olds. When Romeo says “[will you] leave me so unsatisfied?” he wants Juliet to return his love immediately, much like how a child might want a toy the moment it catches their attention (2.2.125). And – like Romeo forgetting about his ‘love’ for Rosaline – children lose their focus quickly when a new, better toy is more interesting. Additionally, Juliet says that she will “look to like, if looking liking move” before agreeing to marry Paris (1.3.98). Juliet is directly saying if she likes Paris’ looks, she will marry him. This is a shallow way to judge a partner, and puppy love is an affair related to these shallow ideals. If Juliet’s criteria for Paris was merely his appearance, falling in love with Romeo would also fall under the same level of ease. Because of Romeo’s child-like focus and Juliet’s shallow ideals, their relationship is most definitely one of infatuated children experiencing puppy love. 

To what extent is Kulich’s argument that Romeo and Juliet should not be viewed as children effective, or even historically accurate? Do some brief online research to back up your claim, providing links / citation to your research at the end for your response. 

Kulich’s argument that Romeo and Juliet should be viewed as adults can be accurate depending on Romeo’s age. Although Juliet’s age is mentioned in the play – just shy of 14 – Romeo’s age is kept a mystery. He is assumed to be between 13-21, usually being portrayed as 16. The age of maturity in ancient Rome was 25 years, although puberty was thought to have ended by age 14 for boys and 12 for girls. Additionally, females often took to marriage at a younger age than males. Even now, “the age of majority ranges internationally from ages 15 to 21, with 18 being the most common age”, although, in some parts of the world, girls are married at a much younger age (Wikipedia). Having said that, Romeo and Juliet’s marriage is acceptable in some places even today, not to mention a few hundred years ago. Taking all this into consideration, it is accurate to say that Romeo and Juliet are adults in Shakespeare’s 16th-century play. However, although it is historically accurate to consider Romeo and Juliet adults, the argument Kulich makes is not effective. Even if a person is given a role, it does not mean that person inherits the capabilities related to that role. If I were to claim I was the president, and everyone agreed, it does not mean I have the political skills necessary to become a president. It is the same with our brain. The human brain has not changed much in the past 500 years, if at all. The brain capacity of today’s 14-year-old and a 14-year-old from the 1500s is identical. Although labeling one as an adult may place more responsibilities, assuming they can make mature and wise decisions is a stretch. Yes, they would be forced to make those decisions, but it would be as well informed as a present-day 14-year-old might make. 

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