Ah, young love. My last blog post dealt with the insanity that is teenage romance; a heady concoction of hormones and cheap perfume.
The most famous young couple is without a shadow of a doubt Romeo and Juliet (or some derivative, depending on your interests). The story of the ‘star-crossed lovers’ is as well known as the words to ‘American Pie’. Okay, just the chorus but whatever. It is a story that has lasted the test of time and its plot resonates with romance-lovers to this day. But what is so special about their relationship? Don’t get me wrong, I love Shakespeare. I actually adore him to a point that it’s best not discussed in public. Awkward. Anyway, moving on. My point is that I believe people are overly fixated on Romeo and Juliet’s relationship rather than their respective characters. I don’t think they really had anything that special at all. Just a lot of crazy hormones.
I don’t particularly like Romeo. A sin, you say. Romeo, one of Shakespeare’s most famous creations, HAS to be liked, nay, loved, right? Not so.I’ll get to that in a minute. I don’t think Romeo loved Juliet in the sense that, let’s say, Ross loved Rachel. I know what you’re thinking: You CAN’T seriously be comparing Shakespearean characters to sitcom characters?! Well, I am. Whatcha gonna do about it? Okay, let me defend myself.Ross and Rachel were a couple who were developed over ten series and got to know each other’s traits/flaws very well. They then made an informed decision to be together. Spoiler ale-….ah, it’s too late. And anyway, WHERE THE HELL HAVE YOU BEEN?! My point is, you can imagine their future. Had Romeo and Juliet lived (another spoiler, but come on now, seriously?!) I just don’t know how they would have managed. We’re talking disowned, no money, six kids….ain’t nobody got time for that. I also want to make it clear that I’m not attacking the play itself. It’s wonderful. Put down the broken bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon and RELAX!
Here are a few reasons why I’m just not buying the love though:
1. Juliet is THIRTEEN. Romeo is an undisclosed age, but I figure he’s around sixteen. Either way, he’s not exactly Tom Selleck. It might be argued that’s the way it was in those days; people married younger and adolescent declarations of life-long dedication to your partner were the norm. Well, okay then, but does that suddenly make that okay? Does it suddenly make Romeo and Juliet’s obsession with each other healthy. In the words of Abraham Lincoln, HELL NO!
2. Romeo was also ‘in love’ with Rosaline. At the beginning of the play, Romeo is all melancholy cause some b**ch won’t return his calls…or carrier pigeons or whatever. He is so heartbroken that his parents are worried about him, he’s spending most of his time alone and withdrawn in the darkness. That seems pretty serious. My point is is that Romeo genuinely believes he’s in love with Rosaline. His depression in the beginning of the play, while slightly irritating, is also quite genuine. So even though he later recants this ‘love’, at the beginning it’s pretty believable but then is proven to have been just the hormones of a randy teenager. Hmm. So we know one thing about Romeo, he falls in love pretty easy. And hard. Give him a few months with Juliet and perhaps the honeymoon period would have faded too.
3. THEY DON’T KNOW EACH OTHER! You might think some celebrities get married ridiculously soon after meeting each other. Well, you can thank R+J for starting this trend. They meet, and get married THE NEXT DAY. Seriously, I’ve had sandwiches I’ve known for longer. Call me a cynic, but how well could you really know a person after ONE DAY?! I mean, what if Juliet is a vegetarian and Romeo eats live rabbits? What if Romeo listens to Snoop Dogg, and Juliet to P Diddy (or their 16th century equivalents)? I know that they already have feuding parents (total ‘mare for the Christmas dinner) but surely there are other differences that might be deal-breakers? Oh no, you might gush, when it comes to true love there are no deal-breakers. Really? A friend of mine once got dumped after SIX MONTHS of a relationship because she admitted to liking Twilight. Think about the people you’ve dated and the reasons you’re not dating them any more. Reasons like ‘they used to put three spoons of sugar in their coffee, THREE!!’ or ‘They used to wrap their leg around me when we slept and I couldn’t move’ or ‘they refused to shave their back rug’ etc etc. I’m sure there’s plenty in the relationship of R+J that would have proven divisive. Least of all the family feud. Possibly Romeo’s bitch-fits. I mean, man up for crying out loud. Which brings me onto my next point…
4. Romeo is whiney.
Romeo likes to complain. A lot. And the problem with Romeo is, if you’re his friend or ‘kinsman’ if you want to get all Shakespearean and stuff, you’re gonna get in trouble. Look at Mercutio. Okay, so you can’t blame it all on Romeo (he did spectacularly avenge his death ‘EITHER THOU, OR I, OR BOTH MUST GO WITH HIM’ *chills*) but he isn’t exactly the greatest of friends. The words ‘buzz-killer’ come to mind. He’s just so overly pensive. Or if you you like, he’s a pretty typical teenager. But compared to Benvolio and Mercutio, he’s pretty whingey. I get the feeling that Romeo enjoys the melodrama of misery and that really doesn’t bode well for a relationship. Imagine ‘It’s not what thou said but the way thou said’t.’
5. He killed her cousin. Like a bad episode of Jerry Springer (wait, is there such thing as a good episode?), there really is no fixing this familial issue. But Romeo just flat out didn’t think. Didn’t think because he put his rage at Mercutio’s death before his love for Juliet. A precursor of ‘bros before hoes’ if you will. I mean, sure, Tybalt was a jerk and his comeuppance was pretty deserved but it just demonstrated Romeo’s lack of foresight. What did he think was going to happen? Lady Capulet to be all like ‘Gee, thanks, I’d tried a contract killer but you just can’t get good service any more. That really is a thorn out of my side. Cheers Romeo.’ And you know when you screw up and your mother compares you to your annoying perfect sibling/cousin/friend, well…I’m gonna do that now. Benvolio wouldn’t have reacted like that. There, I said it. He killed his wife’s cousin. Okay, we’ve all been there with the in-laws. But we don’t murder them do we? (Please don’t take this as an opportunity to confess.) And Juliet might have forgiven him for it but that’s because she’s 13 and probably thought Tybalt was gone to live on a farm up the country. In ten years she probably would have exploded: ‘WAIT A MINUTE, YOU MURDERED MY MOTHER’S NEPHEW. WTF?!’
So, in summary, a great play but their relationship just doesn’t do it for me. The thing is, I don’t think Shakespeare necessarily meant the relationship to be considered a paragon of romantic perfection either. I think he did a great job showing the complexities of young love and how teenage hormones can actually make you act bat-sh*t insane. Remember when you listened to ‘All by Myself’ 100 times after your first breakup cause you thought you were going to die alone with 70 cats? Well, look at you know. Only 15 cats. You showed them.