Based on our readings so far, I disagree that Romeo and Juliet are ‘infatuated children’ engaging in ‘puppy love’. I have come to this conclusion through not only the text but also my understanding that the definition of love is fluid, and everyone has their own perception on what it is. I don’t think that one person can look at a relationship or definition of love of others in a case like this and definitively determine the validity of their affections based solely on their own definitions and experiences. From what I have read within the text, I see that Juliet’s love for Romeo has affected her typical behaviours. Contrary to the diligent and critical thought process we usually see from Juliet’s character, she begs Romeo to “Deny thy father and refuse thy name. Or, if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love, And I’ll no longer be a Capulet” during the famous balcony scene when Juliet does not realize that Romeo is listening to her speak (2:2, 34-36). Juliet’s suggestion in these lines is that Romeo should cast away his family, his inheritance, his reputation, and most importantly, his name for the cause of their love. Should he not, Juliet is willing to do the same on the premise of a declaration of his love. This displays that her affection for Romeo is deeper than ‘puppy love’, as Juliet’s character is one of deep thought and prudent consideration for the future. Juliet’s change in her natural behaviour is enough to signify a potent change in her heart, an addition of love. Romeo, one who is known to be a romantic, casts aside his previous love “That fair for which love groaned for and would die With tender Juliet matched, is now not fair” (2:Prologue, 3-4). In these lines, it is expressed that even in the greatness and extremity of his love for Rosaline, Romeo’s love for Juliet is exponential. Romeo was so in love with Rosaline that his mood plummeted  at the thought of not having her in his life, and he said he would die for her. Even a love this deep is nothing when compared to how he feels for Juliet. There is significance in this representation of his affection when Romeo’s love for Rosaline is used as a frame of reference.

Shakespeare’s adaptation of the story of Romeo and Juliet was written in the 1590s (Bevington). Within the time period of 1566-1619, the average age of marriage for women was 27.0 years (The Age of Marriage). Shakespeare depicts Juliet as 13 years old in ‘Romeo and Juliet’. This illustrates that it is fair to address Juliet as a child, or at least younger than the average woman when she falls in love. I think that it is fair to consider the possibility that a girl this young falling in love and being married was perhaps more common or accepted in the 1500s and 1600s, but a flat declaration that she is not a child I believe is inaccurate and not constructive to understanding the story that Shakespeare is trying to relate. I suspect that a part of the effectiveness of Shakespeare’s choice to represent Juliet as a child is the way that it expresses how much the two characters love each other. As a result of their particularly young age, even for the time period, it becomes even more amazing and special that a bond like the one between Romeo and Juliet can form.

 

Bevington, David. “Romeo and Juliet.” Encyclopedia Britannica, 11/ 30/ 2017, https://www.britannica.com/topic/Romeo-and-Juliet. Accessed 20 Jan. 2018.

“The Age of Marriage.” Internet Shakespeare Editions, 01/04/2011, http://internetshakespeare.uvic.ca/Library/SLT/society/family/marriage.html. Accessed 20 Jan. 2018.