Romeo and Juliet: Is It Love?

As the new semester begins, Denmark students and many more high schoolers across the country are beginning to read the well known Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare. The story begins with the Montague and Capulet family feud over power. Romeo and Juliet are born from these feuding families, but Romeo sees Juliet and immediately falls in love, forgetting his past love and directing all his attention to Juliet. In the following days his love story progresses, which eventually ends with several deaths including Juliet’s and his own. With every read, students slowly learn new things. Whether it be vocabulary, mindsets, or an idea of good and bad, any text has the ability to influence one’s future actions. With that, students could also be influenced to go about their love in the same way Romeo chose to: immaturely and impulsively.

One major thing that could negatively influence the way adolescents go about their romantic relationships is Romeo and Juliet’s age. Juliet is 13, and though Romeo’s age was never specified, it is suspected that he was 17 to 21 years old. A three year age difference alone is questionable. Especially considering in today’s age, one of them would be an 8th grader, and the other would likely be at least a senior in high school. The age difference is less about the years and more about the difference in maturity. With Romeo and Juliet’s story being such a major symbol for love, teens may get the wrong idea of  reasonable and safe age differences between them and their partner, and not realize how easy it is for older people to take advantage of young, naïve teens.

Romeo and Juliet’s story only lasted 4 days. Within 4 days they meet, marry, and die for each other. Their toxic story showed rushing into things, harming oneself and/or others because of a partner, and reliance on someone else. Even though these are all negative aspects of young relationships, today’s media and film industry commonly misportray it as a perfect love story, making it seem as though their actions show the lengths they would go for their love. Though that may be true, no one should ever be influenced into harming themselves or others for their significant other. If someone finds themself in a relationship in which they feel that the only way they can show their love is through violence, it is not a healthy relationship. This could apply to overdependence as well. If two people are so reliant on each other that they can’t live or function without the other, it is unhealthy, not a “cute” Romeo and Juliet situation.

In 2018 Penn State found that Teenagers in relationships may experience more stress daily than those not in one. Paranoia, reliance, disagreements, and arguments from relationships could help feed into this stress. One thing Romeo and Juliet may have actually taught students, is that there is beauty in imperfect relationships. No one is perfect and no relationship is either. However, rushing oneself into something and harming themselves or others is not imperfect, it’s immature and impulsive. Romeo and Juliet is a beautiful piece of writing, but it is best taught to students with a constant reminder that their relationship is not perfect. 


TW: If you or someone else feels stuck in an unsafe or unhealthy relationship, don’t be afraid to reach out to a counselor or adult. Denmark’s Counselor office is found at front of the school across from the Main Office.