Question One: 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?

The trueness of Romeo and Juliet’s love can be seen in the differences of how they treat each other compared to the way they treat others that they may be seeking out romantically. First, the way that Romeo expresses his infatuation for Rosaline is very different than the ways he shows his love for Juliet. When Romeo believes he loves Rosaline, he sulks and broods about his unrequited feelings, but he doesn’t continue to pursuit her when she doesn’t immediately “stay the siege of loving terms, nor bide th’encounter of assailing eyes, nor ope her lap to saint-seducing gold” (1.1.203-205). When Romeo first introduces himself to Juliet, she too refuses him initially. When Romeo asks to kiss Juliet, she denies him, saying that instead her lips must be “[used] in prayer” (1.5.101). Despite this, Romeo pursues and kisses Juliet, which results in the beginning of their passionate relationship. Furthermore, when Romeo realizes that he and Rosaline can’t be together because she “hath sworn that she will still live in chaste”, he seems to give up on trying to pursue her (1.1.208). But, when Romeo realizes that Juliet is a Capulet, his family’s sworn enemy, he doesn’t stop trying to be with her. Instead, he offers to disregard his family name, and all of the wealth that is associated with it, so that he is able to love her for the rest of his life. This shows that Romeo is willing to work against adversity and make sacrifices to earn a future with Juliet, whereas he simply gives up on Rosaline when he faces challenges in his attempt to ‘woo’ her. Juliet also acts differently with Romeo than she does towards other suitors. When Lady Capulet introduces Paris as a suitor, Juliet is very hesitant and cautious, telling her mother that she’ll “look to like if looking liking move” but that she will not try to entice Paris any more than is enough to meet her mother’s expectations. Furthermore, when speaking with the nurse, Juliet mentions that she is not interested in marriage yet, stating “it is an honour that I dream not of” (1.3.68). However, after her first encounter with Romeo, her perception seems to change significantly. After only meeting for one night, she already asks for Romeo to “send [her] word tomorrow” and offer his hand in marriage (2.2143-144). When Juliet throws away her indecision and reluctance about marriage, it shows that she trusts Romeo and truly loves him. In conclusion, Romeo’s willingness to fight for Juliet against many adversities and Juliet’s unusually trusting and spontaneous actions within their relationship prove that their love is legitimate and true.

 

Question Two: 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 not be viewed as children should be considered historically inaccurate. While discussing Juliet’s potential suitor, Paris, Capulet states “My child is yet a stranger in the world; She hath not seen the change of fourteen years” (1.2.9). From this the viewer can see that Juliet is only thirteen years old. it can also be infered that Capulet believes that Juliet is too young to be married, which opposes Kulich’s point that during that time period it was considered normal for thirteen-year-old children to get married. It is believed that ‘Romeo and Juliet’ was first performed around 1995 and was set around this same time. According to Michael Best’s “The Age of Marriage”, the average age of marriage between 1566 and 1618 was 27 years of age. Furthermore, in 1619, the average age of marriage was 23 for women and 27 for men, which is 10 years older than both Juliet and Romeo respectfully. Best also states that “for most children puberty came two or three years later than it does today.” According to Medicine Net, puberty begins between 10 and 14 for most girls, and for boys’ puberty usually begins between 12 and 16. This would mean that both Romeo and Juliet may not have even gone through puberty at this time. Additionally, the prefrontal cortex – the part of the brain in charge of impulse control and organizing emotional reactions – is not fully developed until approximately the age of 25, according to the health encyclopedia of Rochester University. Therefore, Romeo and Juliet should not be considered adults at the time of their marriage because they weren’t fully developed physically or cognitively. Kulich also states that when children finished compulsory school, they assumed all adult responsibility, and that “only a few relatively privileged children went to secondary school and were allowed to remain children longer”. The Montagues and Capulet, “both alike in dignity” were very wealthy, reputable families. Therefore, one could infer that both Romeo and Juliet were both still enrolled in tutoring and considered children. In conclusion, Kulich’s argument that Romeo and Juliet should not be viewed as children is not effective or historically accurate.

 

Citations:

http://internetshakespeare.uvic.ca/Library/SLT/society/family/marriage.html

https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?ContentTypeID=1&ContentID=3051

https://www.medicinenet.com/puberty/article.htm