Why Romeo and Juliet Has No Business Being the World’s Standard for Awesome True Love

To me Romeo and Juliet, while a great artistic work and a very entertaining piece of playwriting, has no business being considered the greatest love story ever told. There is no reason for Romeo and Juliet to be the first people to come to mind when you think of young people in love, or sacrificing for love, or the sort of love you want to have, or, basically, anything legitimately related to real, deep, brushes-his-teeth-while-you-pee-and-still-thinks-you’re-beautiful love. There are a couple of problems that I have with Romeo and Juliet‘s quality as a love story (I can say this without offending Shakespeare because I really don’t believe he intended it to be a “love story” per se. It was a tragedy, yes, but more than anything else it is a story of stubbornness, hubris, and folly than a celebration of a great love). My first problem is a small one, and that’s the slight creep-factor of knowing that while Romeo in the story is maybe in his twenties or early thirties, Juliet is at most fourteen. Cultural differences, okay, I can write that one off. But the thing that I cannot stand by is the fact that when we first meet Romeo, he is mooning over Rosalind. He is so infatuated with Rosalind that he speaks of her the same way he will later speak of Juliet. Then, once he has met Juliet, he forgets entirely about Rosalind. It seems as though, with time, Romeo’s “great love” for Juliet would likewise fall by the wayside in the face of a greater or more mysterious beauty. My last issue is that the two have known each other for so short a time. The entire play takes place over less time than your spring break trip to Cancun. The two barely know each other when they take their own lives, and so there is no way to know if the attraction that manifested itself as an infatuation and obsession would ever reach the familiar, comfortable stage of love that comes when you not only love each other but also just like each other. Maybe Juliet would’ve headed for the hills when she found out that Romeo watched midget porn, or was rude to his mother, or never took baths.

Just food for thought.


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