R&J #1: Puppy Love?

  1. Based on our readings so far, do you agree or disagree that Romeo and Juliet’s relationship is one of “infatuated children” engaging in “puppy love”? Why or why not? Provide at least two pieces of textual evidence.

Romeo and Juliet’s love is not “puppy love”, but rather true love. According to Merriam Webster, puppy love is “transitory love or affection felt by a child or adolescent” (Merriam Webster, 2019). With Juliet being thirteen years old and Romeo being only a few years older, we can easily label the two as “children”. However, during the 16th century, “there was no concept of being a teenager or even of childhood as now understood” (Gordon, 2018). Thirteen-year-olds weren’t considered children at that time, as such a concept did not exist. Girls “younger than [Juliet] [were] happy mothers made,” meaning they had to find love and marry at an early age (1.2.12). With the need to marry so early, there was no time for “puppy love”, or mere infatuation, since the person you loved had to be someone you wanted to marry. Furthermore, when Lady Capulet spontaneously asks Juliet if she can “like of Paris’ love,” she shows that love at that time had to be decided quickly (1.3.97). Unlike our world of globalization today, the lovers’ world left limited opportunities to love. City populations were lower, societal constraints restricted love within the same social class, and love was mostly restricted within the same region. Therefore, Romeo and Juliet’s love can seem like mere infatuation due to how quickly they elope, but with such limited opportunities to love, love had to instantaneous; there was no telling when you would find someone else you could love. Finally, when Juliet asks Romeo to “send [her] word to-morrow” if his “purpose [is] marriage”, she shows that their love is not mere infatuation, but is strong enough to trigger a marriage proposal. “Puppy love” is not strong enough to create marriage proposals. In 16th century Italy, entering marriage for a woman didn’t mean that her partner had to love her back. Men were “more or less free to visit prostitutes” and “relations between male youths and older [married] men were regarded as fairly routine” (“Husbands and Wives”, 2019). Only women had obligations to remain faithful to their husbands. Thus, Juliet’s decision to propose marriage shows that she considers her relationship with Romeo more than mere infatuation and trusts him enough to give up certain rights to enter marriage with him. Based on our readings and the norms of the 16th  century, Romeo and Juliet’s love is not mere “puppy love”, but is instead true love, appropriate to the norms and values of that time.

  1. To what extent is Kulich’s argument that Romeo and Juliet should not be viewed as children effective, or even historically accurate? Do some brief online research to back up your claim, providing links/ citation to your research at the end of your response.

Kulich’s argument that Romeo and Juliet should not be viewed as children is effective from a historical perspective. In the 16th century, “there was no concept of being a teenager of even of childhood as now understood” (Gordon, 2018). Romeo and Juliet wouldn’t have considered themselves children, nor would their family and friends. Thus, not viewing Romeo and Juliet as children is a more historically accurate way of viewing the two lovers, as the very concept of a “child” did not exist in the 16th century. Additionally, “women as young as fourteen were often married” in 16th century Italy (“Husbands and Wives”, 2019). Allowing one year for discrepancy, this shows that it wouldn’t be unusual for a thirteen year old girl of high social standing like Juliet to be married. Therefore, Kulich’s argument that Romeo and Juliet should not be viewed as children is effective and historically accurate.

Art, N. G. (n.d.). Husbands and Wives. Retrieved February 19, 2019, from http://www.italianrenaissanceresources.com/units/unit-2/essays/husbands-and-wives/
Gordon, J. (2018, September 16). Back in the 1500s, were teenagers considered adults or children? Retrieved February 19, 2019, from https://www.quora.com/Back-in-the-1500s-were-teenagers-considered-adults-or-children

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