ROMEO AND JULIET: A LOVE STORY?
Ladies of year 10 at Monte Sant’ Angelo Mercy College, my name is Rose Eagleton and this year I’ve been to not one, not two, but three professional performances of William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Romeo and Juliet is widely considered a beautifully tragic love story. Star-crossed lovers unable to be with each other just because their families are unable to overcome a century-long feud, so as an act of defiance they tragically die in each others arms. It brings a tear to everyone’s eye when Juliet wakes and we are all stunned as she takes her own life to be with the one she loves. But, after 3 performances, you start wonder, “Does she really love him?”, and if she doesn’t, then how can this possibly be the greatest love story of all time?
The obvious point to mention here is their ages. Juliet is “not quite fourteen” and Romeo, well, he is described as “young” and I think we can all agree that Romeo’s passion, romantic idealism and rashness indicates that he is still a fledgling in the grand scheme of things.
It was the summer of 2013. I, a fledgling myself, had a massive crush on a boy who lived in my neighbourhood. It was rather like Romeo and Juliet, to be honest. My parents said I was too young to date, but I told them that they couldn’t keep us apart – I was in love with him!
He texted me, so eloquently, saying, “r u free sat? do u wanna go 2 froyo?” I was so excited- I came five minutes early wearing my favourite dress and he rocked up late wearing boardies. We were so different, yet so meant to be together… Until 9 months later, when, after a disaster-filled first kiss, I broke up with him.
The thing about Romeo and Juliet is that, well, they didn’t know each other for 9 months. They knew each other for 4 days. I’m sure if you had asked me on that Saturday in 2013 if I would marry him, I probably would have said yes. But, 3 years and boatload of failed relationships later, I’m so glad I didn’t marry my first crush.
Romeo and Juliet married on the second day of their relationship. They were separated for the third and on the fourth they both died. Say they spent two hours together at the Capulet’s party, and then another hour at balcony, followed by a half an hour wedding and an hour “hanging out” afterwards, according to my calculations, they spent a total of 4.5 hours in each other’s company before dying for their love. To put that in perspective, that is half of a school day. That’d be like meeting someone in period 1, marrying them in period 2, sitting in separate groups at recess and then dying for each other period 3.
Not to mention, at the start of the play, moments before “falling in love” with Juliet, Romeo is in love with another woman. Dearest Rosaline, he described, “She’s fair I love,” [but], “She hath forsworn to love, and in that vow do I live dead that live to tell it now.” In fact, the only reason Romeo went to the Capulet’s party, the only reason Romeo even met Juliet in the first place, was so he could potentially capture a glimpse of his fair Rosaline. And therefore, could Juliet be considered a simple rebound? Could Romeo be so frustrated that his “one true love” had vowed to be celibate that he jumped on the nearest girl at the time? Sounds like a classic teenage boy to me.
Over the past 400 years, Romeo and Juliet’s story has become identified as the greatest love story of all time.
It has become almost a stock image of what true love is. It is a classic cliché. Star-crossed lovers. Think Orpheus and Eurydice, Jack and Rose, Anakin and Padme- all stories featuring the time old trope where lovers are destined to be apart. But I’m here to tell you, year 10, that this cliché does not make a good love story.
In fact, I believe that Romeo and Juliet is not a love story at all. It’s one of teenage rashness and illogical infatuation. Romeo and Juliet could not have been in love. It is simply not possible. This cliché story simply perpetuates the idea of love at first sight, but I’m here to tell you that, scientifically, you can not love someone within moments of meeting them, because the hormones that are released when you are in love with someone can take up to over 3 months to fully develop! So yes, Romeo and Juliet may have been infatuated with each other. They may have thought that they were in love. But realistically, Juliet could not have loved Romeo and Romeo could not have loved Juliet, no more than one might fall in love with a packet of chilli and sour cream chips.
So, ladies, please listen to me. Romeo and Juliet were not in love; they were simply infatuated by the mere idea of each other. I sound like a mother when I say this, but they were too young and they did not know each other well enough to be in love. Not to mention that Juliet was a mere rebound because Romeo was so frustrated that Rosaline wanted to remain abstinent. How can this possibly be considered a love story if the two main characters aren’t even in love? In conclusion, Romeo and Juliet is not a love story and, ladies of year 10, I implore you to not fall for this trope again.