Romeo and Juliet: A Teenage Infatuation Mistaken for Love
There are many differences between teenage infatuation and true love. Teenage infatuation is a short-lived adoration or longing for someone while love is a lasting adoration and longing for someone. This short-lived emotion is selfish, instantaneous, and impulsive. It is based solely on physical attraction and lust. Love, however, is selfless, develops over a long period of time, and sensible. It is not based solely on physical attraction and lust. It is unknown if Shakespeare was trying to portray teenage infatuation or true love in critically acclaimed Romeo and Juliet. In William Shakespeare’s play, one of the most obvious themes is teenage infatuation.
This tragedy depicts teenage infatuation because the relationship between Romeo and Juliet is built on physical attraction and lust. It is Sunday night at the Capulet house, and Romeo sees Juliet for the first time. Fascinated by her beauty, he remarks “Oh, she doth teach the torches to burn bright! /It seems she hangs upon the cheek of night /Like a rich jewel in an Ethiope’s ear, /Beauty too rich for use, for earth too dear” (Shakespeare 1.5.43-45). Romeo uses the metaphor o she doth teaches to burn bright to describe her appeal. She is so bright and beautiful that she showed an already lit object how to shine. Another metaphor she hangs upon the cheek of night upon the cheek of night shows how much Juliet stands out, like a sparkly jewel lighting up the dark night sky. He continues the jewel metaphor when he uses the contrast of the sparkly diamond to the dark skin of an African. Her beauty was too good for the earth, but she was also too beautiful to die and be buried. Shakespeare foreshadows their death. Their infatuation is further shown through physical attraction when Romeo starts up a conversation with Juliet. He piques her interest when he says, “My lips, two blushing pilgrims, ready stand /To smooth that rough touch with a tender kiss” (Shakespeare 1.5.94-95). Romeo’s metaphor alludes to religion by calling his lips two pilgrims. A pilgrim is a person on a religious journey to a holy place. Juliet’s lips the holy place and Romeo’s lips the excited pilgrim. He suggests that he is not good enough to touch Juliet, he describes the kiss as tender showing how lost he is in only her beauty. Therefore, Shakespeare shows meaningless infatuation because it is based only on physical attraction and lust. He compared her to a holy place and jewels. Romeo uses metaphor after metaphor to prove only one thing: how beautiful Juliet is.
Furthermore, William Shakespeare illustrates meaningless infatuation through Romeo and Juliet’s impulsive decisions. After they kiss twice Juliet acts hastily and without thought, telling the nurse “If he be married, /My grave is like to be my wedding bed” (Shakespeare 1.5.133-134). A few hours later, after the ball, on Juliet’s balcony, she says to Romeo “Thy purpose marriage, send me word tomorrow” (Shakespeare 2.2.144). Juliet’s hyperbole, if he be married my grave is like to be my wedding bed shows her willingness to die for a man, she exchanged a metaphoric conversation with, she still does not know his name. Shakespeare uses dramatic irony to give more meaning to the phrase. Juliet acts foolishly again when she asks Romeo to send for her if he wishes to get married. She is pleased by his “love” and she does not give time to think of the decision they just made. As the ball comes to an end and Juliet finds out who Romeo is, she worries “My only love sprung from my only hate! /Too early seen unknown and known too late! /Prodigious birth of love it is me, /That I must love a loathed enemy” (Shakespeare 1.5.137-140).
She now knows who Romeo is and she notes that the only person she can hate is the only person she loves. A paradox. It is too late now because after finding out who he is, she cannot bring herself to hate him. A prodigious birth of love for Juliet, it foretells the sorrow to come from their relationship. Friar Lawrence warns Romeo “Wisely and slow: they stumble that run fast” (Shakespeare 2.3.94). When he asked Friar Lawrence to marry them the Friar warns him to slow down not only physically but emotionally. He claimed he was in love with Rosaline less than three days prior. Shakespeare foreshadows the end of the play, when things are rushed and unplanned the outcome is almost always negative. In addition, this play portrays teenage infatuation with impulsiveness. Romeo and Juliet prove to be very thoughtless characters, she mentions marriage a few hours after meeting him for the first time and he goes along with the idea even asking Friar to marry them.
In conclusion, the main message of Romeo and Juliet is meaningless infatuation. Romeo is captivated by her charming looks. He uses a continuous metaphor when he compares her to a gem, torch and diamonds. Romeo again compares her to a holy shrine and he a pilgrim showing how much lust plays a role in their first encounter. They both show how impulsive they are when Romeo proposes marriage a few hours after meeting Juliet, the enemy’s daughter. Friar Lawrence the voice of wisdom earns Romeo of the dangers of acting without thinking. The tragedy of Romeo and Juliet is not their deaths, but mistaking immature, meaningless teenage emotion with real love.
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