Adolescence in Romeo and Juliet

Romeo and Juliet is a famous play written by Shakespeare during the Early Modern period with the tragic ending among two “star-crossed lovers”. The love story between Romeo and Juliet arise the sympathy from the audience. It is impossible for Romeo and Juliet to stay together due to the feud between the Montagues and the Capulets. Juliet is led to death because she is forced to get married to Paris who she does not love. She commits suicide with desperation under the patriarchal family. However, Marjorie Kolb Cox claimed that the tragedy and death of Romeo and Juliet are due to the effect of adolescence, Romeo and Juliet fall in love impulsively without consideration of consequences as well as the lack of parenthood during the adolescence.

There are several scenes in the play describing the fight on the street in Verona. Romeo, Benvolio and Mercutio are three adolescents who are easy to be impulsive. The Montagues and the Capulets start to fight due to the provocation. After Mercutio died, Romeo kills Tybalt as the revenge. Adolescents advocate violence rather than peace to solve the conflict. It is an immature way to solve the conflict and argument by adolescents. Violence is an issue among adolescents. They ignore consequences, social rules and laws to fight in the public space (Cox, 1967). The consequence is both Mercutio and Tybalt died in the fighting. Romeo is banished from Verona because he disobeys the law. Characters in the play pay the price for their impulsive fighting. Their impulsive behaviours lead to more tragedies.

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Another feature for adolescents is love. Adolescents are curious about love and sex. Boys and girls are easily attracted to each other. Romeo and Juliet fall in love at first sight. Romeo forgets Rosaline immediately. Juliet is also a young girl at the age that expects love. They fall in love impulsively and get married secretly in a very short time, in which is hard to know each other well. Adolescents are at the age that wants to be independent and have the desire for the opposite sex. They want to be independent of their families and parents. They spend more times with peers than parents (Cox, 1967). The power of love among two young adolescents makes Juliet refuse the arranged marriage and commit suicide due to the immature love.

Adolescents are rebellious, and they are less immature than adults. Therefore, parents play important roles to guide and protect their children. Both Romeo and Juliet are a lack of parenthood that has weak relationships with their parents. They do not get support and understandings from their families (Cox, 1967). When Romeo feels painful towards Rosaline, he would rather find his friends and Friar Laurence rather than his father. He asks for help from Friar Laurence to hold a wedding. Friar Laurence is more like Romeo’s father, and he understands Romeo’s emotions. Friar Laurence is a reliable person for Romeo when he feels desperate. Montague knows nothing about Juliet until the end of the play. There is a gap between Montague and Romeo.

There are not too many scenes about Lady Capulet as well. Lady Capulet follows her husband to prepare the wedding for Juliet and Paris regardless of Juliet’s intentions. When Juliet shows her attitudes towards the marriage, Lady Capulet ignores Juliet and refuses to talk to her. Juliet would rather share her secrets with the Nurse rather than Lady Capulet. As Cox argued, Juliet is not close to her mother. Juliet does not feel the love from her mother when she is desperate. Lady Capulet is absent when Juliet needs her. She ignores Juliet’s emotions towards the marriage no matter how Juliet is begging. The unconcern from Lady Capulet and cold mother-daughter relationship leads the suicide. It is obvious that Romeo is closer to Friar Lawrence and Juliet is closer to the Nurse than their biological parents. Adolescents are sensitive, in which they need more concerns from their parents. Parents should protect their children falling into a wrong path. Montague and Capulet are regretful for Romeo and Juliet. If they could concern more about children’s emotions during the adolescence instead of feud and power, perhaps death would not happen.

Marjorie Kolb Cox analysed Romeo and Juliet from a psychological aspect. Romeo and Juliet are at adolescence period. The audience is convinced why some impulsive behaviours occur, why there are many fighting scenes in the play and why Romeo and Juliet fall in love so quickly. The death of Romeo and Juliet, as well as other characters, is a consequence of the effect from adolescence. There is no careful consideration for adolescents, and they are not aware of the responsibility. Cox makes readers focus on reasons behind the tragedy instead of a love story.


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