Love is deadly if misused. In the Shakespearean play Romeo and Juliet, Romeo and Juliet faced many trials in their growing patience with love, however in the end, love killed them due to their poor decision making. Parenting styles and the teenage brain affected Romeo and Juliet’s decision making altering a reader’s perspective on how they perceive the characters until their death.
To begin with, Romeo was very fickle with love. In the text “Nature vs Nurture” under the Nature section, it states, “… the id is the completely unconscious, impulsive, and demanding part of a psyche that as a child allows us to get our basic needs met” (Mallari, 2019). This evidence explains why in Act 2 scene 3 page 3, Romeo made the quick, impulsive decision to marry Juliet after only knowing her for a day.
As stated in the piece of evidence, the part of his brain, the id convinced Romeo to marry Juliet to get his basic need met at the time, which in this case was his love for her. He felt that, to be satisfied, he had to officially make this woman his. The nature section continues and states, “The ego is based on the reality principle. It understands that the Id can’t always have what it wants because sometimes that can cause problems for us in the future” (Mallari, 2019).
Obviously, Romeo didn’t take this into consideration when firmly deciding to marry Juliet despite many possible consequences that could come with that such as: she is a Capulet which is Romeo’s family’s enemy and he’s only known this woman for a day, . Furthermore, Romeo did not consider any other women as alternitives or or other options. The text ‘Developing brain connections make teenagers impatient and impulsive’ by Hanna Osborne states, “Teenagers are impatient because developing brain connections make it difficult for them to see the benefit of them waiting longer for a larger reward.” This goes along with how the play did not show Romeo dating or being attracted to other women other than Rosaline before marrying Juliet.
As soon as he met Juliet he went with her for marriage. He didn’t see the benefit of wating longer to find a better woman especially after Rosaline did not work out. Also, in Act 1 scene 1 pages 9-12, before meeting Juliet hours later, Romeo was madly in love with another woman, Rosaline. It states, “Out of her favor, where I am in love” (Shakespeare, 1595). Romeo is basically saying he “loves” Rosaline greatly, yet she doesn’t love him back, so he is very sad and is complaining through pages 9-12. What he didn’t realize is that shortly after, he would completely forget Rosaline existed and fall in love with Juliet instead. This further shows how impulsive, indecisive, and fickle Romeo is. As a result of this, a reader may perceive Romeo as childish completely changing the way one originally saw the play which was romantic and lovely. These quick, unconscious decisions caused him issues further into the play.
Next, Juliet was impetuous when it came to her love for Romeo. In Act 2 scene 2 pages 84-95, Juliet is indecisive about marrying Romeo, and she obviously concludes to marry him (Shakespeare, 1595). This resulted from her coming down from her “high” with love and realizing that the decision she was about to make was a life changing one. She was put on the spot at first by Romeo and felt compelled to decide right then and there without thought. This is connected to how when one is intoxicated they made irresponsible choices due to the high dopamine levels in their brain. Dopamine plays a part in how we feel pleasure and pleasure is found when you are in love (Harvard, 2019). Juliet also had high dopamine levels in her brain, but it was for a different reason, love.
Moreover, when juliet decided to marry romeo, she was in a state of excitement. The article ‘Why teenagers make terrible decisions: a parent’s guide’, “Hot situations refer to choices during periods of high emotional arousal (feeling excited, anxious, or upset).” When juliet made the life changing decision to get married, she was feeling excited becuase she was in love therefore she was in a ‘hot situation’. This resulted in her making an irrational
decision without care and thought put into it. In act 2 scene 5 pages 125-127, Juliet is rushing the nurse to tell her what Romeo said and is being impatient. as one can assume from this quote from the play, “Nay, come, I pray thee, speak. Good, good Nurse, speak” (Shakespeare, 1595). Now that she has concluded her decision to marry Romeo, she is pretty much ‘brain washed’ with love and may have had trouble realizing other possible events that may have been occurring around her.
For example: Juliet didn’t mourn very much over her own cousin’s death considering that Romeo was the reason for it, but instead was more concerned about Romeo’s wellbeing at the time. Her blindness by love may have contributed to her death because she may have possibly missed other things going on around her that could have helped prevent events leading to their death such as if she would have realized how many things could go wrong with her taking the vial and fooling everyone that she was dead as previously mentioned. These actions may enable a reader to see Juliet as the young thirteen-year-old she is and instead view her love for Romeo as ‘young dumb love’. This changes the lens that the play is being read into a silly fairytale and makes the reader miss the lesson being taught.
Furthermore, parenting styles contributed greatly to the fall of Romeo and Juliet. According to the article ‘4 types of parenting styles and their effects on kids: what’s your parenting style?’, “Permissive parents are lenient. They often only step in when there’s a serious problem” (Morin, 2017). This description can easily fit Romeo’s parents because in the play, Romeo was very often out and about with his friends, and with lack of evidence in the text for this, his parents didn’t know his whereabouts. As shown, the Montague parents only showed up in the play, as the description stated, when there was a serious issue. For example, in Act 1 scene 1, there was a sword fight that broke out and the Montagues arrived at the end of it (Shakespeare, 1595).
It is shown on page 16 as follows, “Oh, where is Romeo? Saw you him today? Right glad I am he was not at this fray” (Shakespeare, 1595). Lady Montague, Romeos mother, seems to “worry” about if Romeo was there or not but she and her husband only appeared when this fight, which was considered serious, occurred. Because of his parent’s laid-back parenting style, Romeo went out and did things he knew he should not have been doing with the mindset of ‘I won’t get in trouble’. This lead to him being further on his own with his destructive decisions and behaviors. Under the nurture section of the nature vs nurture article it mentions how punishing a child would most likely prevent the behavior from occurring again, but Romeo did not get any negative reinforcement for his actions and as a result continued to do them.
Also, Juliet was not very close with her parents but in replacement was closer to the nurse. In this situation, instead of lack of being there, its lack of being close that poses as an issue. This could result in Juliet hiding things other things from her parents and making decisions she shouldn’t be making on her own aside from sneaking out and getting married. These reasons cause a reader to view the parents of Romeo and Juliet as ‘uncaring’ for their children which further allows them to understand why Romeo and Juliet turned out the way they did.
Moreover, early marriage expectations for Juliet was also a factor in her death. In Act 1 scene 2 page 1, Lord Capulet says, “My permission is only part of her decision. If she agrees to marry you, my blessing and fair words will confirm her choice” (Shakespeare, 1595). He is giving Paris permission to marry Juliet as long as she agrees to it. Further into the play, Juliet doesn’t fall for Paris but instead for Romeo obviously. When Juliet figured out that Paris wanted her, in a way, she used Romeo to get out of having to marry Paris, and in the process ended up falling in love with Romeo. Also throughout the play, the nurse, Juliet’s 3rd guardian figure, mentions sexual things to Juliet multiple times.
A single example of this is shown in Act 4 scene 5, “Sleep for a week, for the next night, I warrant, The County Paris hath set up his rest. That you shall rest but little” (Shakespeare, 1595). She is mentioning how on her wedding night, Paris won’t allow her much sleep since it is assumed that on one’s wedding night, they have sex. Although this quote doesn’t directly influence Juliet’s death, it connects to how similarly; she has another expectation that she must fulfil, sexual acts. If marriage at her age was not imposed onto her, Juliet would have never felt pressure to marry so soon avoiding all of the conflicts and unfortunate events that led up to her death. These expectations lead to a reader possibly understanding why Juliet committed the actions she did in the play, which is because of all the expectations she had to live up to in order to be accepted by the people around her.
On the contrary, one might object here that Romeo and Juliet’s decisions were more heavily influenced by their peers. In Act 2 scene 6 pages 1 and 2 Friar Lawrence agreeing marries the two (Shakespeare, 1595). He didn’t do this out of thought for anything negative however but instead in hopes of ending the feud between the two enemy families. By him allowing the marriage, neither Romeo nor Juliet thought twice about regrets. Perhaps if Friar Lawrence hadn’t agreed to marry them, the two would think about their decision and realize it was a quick one after all. In addition, going all the way back to act 1 scene 4 page 5 to when Romeo’s friends Mercutio and Benvolio convince him to go to the party that would be the death of him (Shakespeare, 1595).
If his friends hadn’t peer pressured him to go to the party, he would have stuck with Rosaline and not have fallen in love with Juliet because he would have never had the chance to meet her. This would have avoided all of the events that lead to the death of Romeo. Additionally, as shown in the play, Juliet didn’t have any friends her age. The conversations she should have been having with other friends her age was instead held with the Nurse. Absence of friends from Juliet’s life could have also played a role in her death because the nurse had very different life experiences that had little to no relation to what Juliet was going through and often times the advice she would give to Juliet would steer her in the wrong direction and harm her instead of benefitting her.
For example, the fact that the Nurse was keeping secrets about Juliet’s relations with Romeo did not benefit her. If the situation would have been told to the mother and father of Juliet, the whole relationship between Romeo and Juliet would have been terminated preventing her death. In this situation however, the nurse was trying to act like a friend figure by keeping her secrets for her, but this harmed Juliet. At times, being influenced by the nurse impacted Juliet positively, but other times negatively. Despite all of this, external factors did not have as big of an impact on their choices as much as Romeo and Juliet’s parents and their own brains. Even if Romeo’s friends pressured him into going to the party, no matter what, Romeo has complete control over his own brain and could have refused to go if he really didn’t want to.
Moreover, although Friar Lawrence agreed to marry the two, despite whether he agreed or not, the decision to marry was ultimately up to the two, Romeo and Juliet, and they would have backed out of the event at any time if they wanted to, but they didn’t. Though Romeo and Juliet’s peers did not have much an influence on their actions, depending on the lens a reader is reading through, they can perceive the two as regular teenagers who want to do what the people around them are doing or want them to do, which further goes into how they felt compelled to be accepted by the environment around them.
To sum up, many factors influenced the decisions of Romeo and Juliet , however the main ones were parenting styles and ‘the teenage brain’. The two love birds took matters into their own hands when getting married while not thinking about possible consequences that could occur as a result of that. In the end, this decision came back to bite them. If not dealt with properly, as shown in this tragic play, love will kill.