Noticing behavioral similarities between teenagers today and Romeo and Juliet can help gain a stronger understanding of the play. Significant parallels exist in Romeo and Juliet and most teens in the twenty-first century because both are impulsive, rebellious, and overdramatic.
Romeo and Juliet are impulsive, which is a trait seen in most modern day teenagers. When Tybalt kills Mercutio, Romeo immediately turns towards Tybalt and declares, “Either thou or I, or both, must go with him.”(3.1.27). In this quote, Romeo is telling Tybalt that he will either kill him, himself, or the both of them for Mercutio. Romeo then proceeds to kill Tybalt without thinking of the consequences of doing so. Romeo’s impulsivity is prominent here. He bases his entire decision on his current emotional state. Another example of this impulsive behavior is when Romeo realizes that he has upset Juliet and tells the Nurse, “Tell me, that I may sack/The hateful mansion.(He offers to stab himself, and NURSE snatches the dagger away…)”(3.3.107-108). Without hesitation, Romeo threatens to kill himself for Juliet. Again, he bases his actions completely on his current emotional state. Like Romeo, many teenagers “live in the moment” and choose to do whatever they feel, often completely disregarding the effect of their decisions on themselves or others.
Today, rebellion is common in teenagers all around the world as well as Romeo and Juliet. In an argument with her mother, Juliet tells her, “I will not marry yet; and when I do, I swear/It shall be Romeo, whom you know I hate,/Rather than Paris. These are news indeed!”(3.5.122-124). In secret, Juliet and Romeo are both married, but Juliet’s parents want her to marry Paris. In the heat of the moment, Juliet tells her mother that she doesn’t want to marry anyone, but throws in the fact that she’d rather marry Romeo. Juliet makes a point to anger her mom, showing her rebellious side. Romeo definitely has a rebellious side as well. When Juliet hears him outside of her window and asks for Romeo’s name, he answers her with, “My name, dear saint, is hateful to myself/Because it is an enemy to thee./Had I it written, I would tear the word.” He tells Juliet that he hates his family name because his family is an enemy of her family. Given the opportunity, he’d like to change it and disown his family name due to his infatuation with her. This shows that Romeo is rebellious because he doesn’t care at all about making his family happy. Impressing his family is so unimportant to him that, in an instant, he is happy to completely separate himself from them. Aside from rebellion, selfishness is here as well. Modern day teenagers, for the most part, care only about themselves, and they don’t have a sensitive side towards authority figures. If anything, many teens get a rush by disobeying or angering authority, as seen in the interaction between Juliet and her mother.
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Juliet and Romeo are both overdramatic throughout the play as are many teens throughout everyday life. In the beginning of the play, everyone wonders where Romeo is, but his father soon explains that “Away from light steals home my heavy son/And private in his chamber pens himself,/Shuts up his windows, locks fair daylight out.”(1.1.133-135). Here, Montague informs everyone that Romeo has locked himself in his room and has been crying all day. Later, Romeo comes out of his bedroom and explains that the reason he’d been crying is that Rosaline, a girl he loved, did not want to have sex with him and, thus, she did not love him. This shows that locking himself in his room all day is a complete overreaction. For most people, being unable to have sex is upsetting, but not completely devastating. Yet, this is not the case for Romeo. Long after in the story, Juliet turns to Friar Lawrence after Romeo leaves and demands, “Do thou but call my resolution wise/And with this knife I’ll help it presently.”(4.1.53-54). She tells the Friar that if he has no good advice for her, she will kill herself. Juliet has become so attached to a boy that she met only a few days ago that she threatens to commit suicide, making this one overdramatic scene. Nowadays, teens will become just as emotional as Romeo and Juliet are in these situations over the smallest of problems. Whether it’s a bad breakup or a revoked privilege, expect any teenager to throw a fit.
Today’s teenagers are rebellious, impulsive, and overdramatic, and these same traits are present in Romeo and Juliet throughout the play. Because the teenage behaviors in Romeo and Juliet exist today, the play still has the same kind of relevance now as it did when written. When people read the play, they are able to relate to the characters to a certain degree. As long as a story upholds some type of currency, the popularity of said story will never falter.