Romeo and Juliet: Act 1 and 2 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?
Based on Act 1 and Act 2 of William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, the relationship between Romeo and Juliet is very shallow, consisting of nothing more than puppy love. When we are first introduced to Romeo, we see that he is infatuated with a girl named Rosaline, who takes no interest in him, despite Romeo’s best efforts to win her heart. Since true love should be based on how well one knows the other person, Romeo does not demonstrate that he has reached the maturity to love someone for their personality rather than looks. In addition, Romeo shows that his love for Rosaline was puppy love when he meets Juliet for the first time. Though Romeo said that Rosaline was the most beautiful, he still mentions that “[he] ne’er saw true beauty till this night” when he sees Juliet (1.5.53). This shows that his love for Juliet, which stems from the same motivations as his love for Rosaline, is likely to be based on beauty, and not personality, implying that this is not true love. Later in the play, when Romeo and Juliet are being married by Friar Lawrence, the Friar mentions that Romeo and Juliet should “love moderately; long love doth so” (2.6.15). Despite these words, as well as Juliet’s cautious nature seen earlier when speaking with the Nurse and Lady Capulet, Juliet still immediately disregards all warnings as well as gut feelings, and expresses that her “true love is grown to such excess [that she] cannot sum up sum of half [her] wealth” (2.6.33). This shows that Juliet’s age reflects her actions, as she does not have the mental maturity to process true love, and instead goes into an intense rush of happiness and what she perceives as love. Based on the facts that Romeo only bases his love off of the physical appearance of another person, and Juliet disregards all warnings, including her own instincts, to not love too intensely, both Romeo and Juliet are simply engaging in puppy love.
To what extent is Kulich’s argument that Romeo and Juliet should not be viewed as children effective, or even historically accurate?
Kulich’s argument that Romeo and Juliet should be seen as adults is correct to extent, but does not account for mental maturity, and should be considered children. Juliet’s age “hath not seen the change of 14 years”, and Romeo is commonly portrayed to be around 17 or 18 (1.2.9). This does meet the standard to be considered an adult in the time period in Rome, but however does not agree with modern findings on the age for full mental maturity, which is around 25. This information lines up with the ages given to us, since considering them as adults means that they should have a better understanding of love than the show in the play, although they do not. It also makes sense for Romeo and Juliet to be children, as they both have basic conversations about love, similarly to the conversations one might have with their parents or a friend when one first encounters love. We see this when Romeo talks to Benvolio about being out of love, and again when Juliet, the nurse and her mother have a discussion on who Juliet should marry. This also explains why Romeo and Juliet love each other so intensely at first, as they have a different perception of what love should be, and are only beginning to understand love. Keeping this in mind, it can be concluded that Romeo and Juliet should be considered children in the play, as it lines up with their displayed behavior, as well as makes sense in regard to the plot.