- 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.
I agree that Romeo and Juliet are engaging in ‘puppy love’. Puppy love is a term for romantic or platonic feelings of love, often felt during childhood and adolescence. Juliet is only 13 while Romeo is 17, and both have only met each other for 24 hours before they decide to marry. Despite Juliet’s earlier claims that marriage is “too rash, too unadvised, too sudden, Too like the lightning, which doth cease to be”, she throws her caution to the wind (II. II. 118-119). Like a puppy following its owner, Juliet is infatuated with Romeo and lets him convince her into early marriage. In addition, Romeo falls into the other description of puppy love: adoring, worshipful affection. Romeo even compares himself to a pilgrim worshiping Juliet, a saint, with the lines “If I profane with my unworthiest hand This holy shrine, the gentle fine is this:” and “O, then, dear saint, let lips do what hands do; They pray, grant thou, lest faith turn to despair.” (I. v. 93-94) and (I. v. 103-104). Romeo worships Juliet, dots her with affectionate words and love, but he loves her only for her looks, as Friar Laurence points out with his line, “Holy Saint Francis, what a change is here! Is Rosaline, that thou didst love so dear, So soon forsaken? Young men’s love then lies Not truly in their hearts, but in their eyes.” (II. III. 65-68). Romeo switches from Rosaline, his love for many months, to Juliet, whom he knows for only 24 hours. Romeo even denounces and forgets his love of Rosaline when he first sees Juliet, marked by the exclamation of “Did my heart love till now? Forswear it, sight! For I ne’er saw true beauty till this night.” (I. v. 52-53). In conclusion, Romeo thinks love is fast and fated and doesn’t take it seriously, falling on worship, adoration, and lust instead of true love. Juliet is too young and inexperienced for love, following Romeo as a puppy would almost blindly follow the first person it meets after Romeo wins her heart. While they are warned multiple times by the Friar, Juliet and Romeo persist in their puppy love which, if it had been given time and a happy ending, could have turned into a long-lasting 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/citations to your research at the end of your response.
I also agree that Romeo and Juliet should not be viewed as children in the context of the time period. The historical lens means to view a piece of literature or history from a certain time period through the rules and normalities of that time period, which are often different from our own. For example, in the view of marriage in the time of the Elizabethans, the husband was dominant and the wife was the beautiful housewife. That view is much different from our views as a society today, but it is none the less true of that specific time period. It is important to judge the actions of literature through the lens of its history; otherwise, we cannot truly understand the wants and fears of someone from a different time, and therefore cannot justify or understand their actions. Women in Elizabethan times had a much different role and job then women have now. They were expected to marry as young as the age of 12 and became a woman soon before or after marriage. Someone like Juliet, age 13, would already be considered a woman, and someone like Romeo would long since be seen as a man at the age of 17. In addition, unmarried women were suspected of being a witch, especially in the lower class, so the expectation was that a woman’s only job was to marry and give birth to the heir of their husbands and family. Juliet, like many Elizabethan women, was tutored at home a variety of languages and educated in the ways of marriage. Unlike other women, she had a choice in marriage as her family was very rich, but her marriage options many consisted of men from powerful positions and families such as Paris, a relative of the king, and later Romeo, a member of the rich Montague family. The hope for these Elizabethan families was to forge alliances through arranged marriages, and someone as young as Juliet or Romeo would be eligible as a young adult so they could wed into such an alliance. The Elizabethan times also had shorter life expectancies due to disease, injury, or childbirth, so a midlife estimate in our time would very well be a lifespan estimate in Elizabethan time. In conclusion, Romeo and Juliet would not be considered children, but adults due to marriage views, lifespans, and expectations in their time period.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Puppy_love – Definition of Puppy Love
http://www.william-shakespeare.info/elizabethan-women.htm – Elizabethan Woman
http://www.elizabethan-era.org.uk/elizabethan-women.htm – Elizabethan Woman (Upper Class)