The Link Between Lack of Support and Romeo and Juliet’s Suicide

If parents are too strict with raising children, they may become more rebellious than if the parents were laid back. This is seen in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, in which, because of their strict parents, Romeo and Juliet end up dead because of forbidden love. Romeo and Juliet would live longer if they were raised differently or opposite genders because they would be free to love leading to a happy, successful life.

Examples of the Capulet and Montague parenting styles are introduced in Act One, foreshadowing Romeo and Juliet’s suicidal behavior. A report states, “Behaviorism is a worldview that assumes a learner is essentially passive, responding to environmental stimuli” (Mallari). This supports the Capulet and Montague parenting styles because they are considered the environmental stimuli and Romeo and Juliet are the passive learners. Romeo and Juliet view each other as enemies because they have been taught this by their family. A reporter, Amy Morin, writes: “Authoritarian parents are famous for saying ‘Because I said so,’ when a child questions the reasons behind a rule. They are not interested in negotiating and their focus is on obedience” (Morin). This is like the Capulet and Montague Families because they have no valid reasons for their hatred on the opposite families. Their feud has been long lasting, and generations lack an excuse for teaching these hateful ways; and the family members easily show their hatred both indirectly and directly.

For example, Tybalt states: “What? You take out your sword and then talk about peace? I hate the word peace like I hate hell, all Montagues, and you. Let’s go at it, coward” (Shakespeare 13). This shows that Tybalt has been raised by his Capulet family to hate all Montagues even if he has never talked to them. His extreme hatred is shown through his coalition of hell with the Montague family name; and by comparing the Montagues to hell, Tybalt implies that all Montagues are horrible people because the Capulet and Montague families were religious. Going to hell is the opposite of a religious follower’s goal. Another example of Tybalt’s perceived attitude towards the Montagues is seen when he says: “Now, by the honor of our family, I do not consider it a crime to kill him” (Shakespeare 63). Tybalt shows that he does not care if he will go to prison or be banished for killing Romeo if he does so to defend his family name. Just the sight of Romeo offends Tybalt, even though he is unprovoked. Similar to Tybalt’s disbelief at seeing Romeo, Romeo says: “Is she a Capulet? Oh, this is a heavy price to pay! My life is in the hands of an enemy” (Shakespeare 69). This shows that Romeo feels fear when he comes to the realization that Juliet was of his enemy’s family name.

He knows that if anyone found out about his kiss with Juliet, he could be killed by a Capulet. Likewise, Juliet says: “The only man I love is the son of the only man I hate! I saw him too early without knowing who he was, and I found out who he was too late! Love is a monster for making me fall in love with my worst enemy” (Shakespeare 71). Like Romeo, Juliet realizes that she kissed a man of her enemy’s family and feels regret and fear that she would never see her “true love” again. She and Romeo believe they are enemies because they have been taught so their whole life. Act one shows the extreme, frustrating parenting styles of the Capulet and Montague Families.

Furthermore, during Act One, Romeo and Juliet’s friends and family enforce the gender roles of the time on them. For example, Lady Capulet shows twisted gender roles when she says: “This man is single, and he lacks only a bride to make him perfect and complete. As is right, fish live in the sea, and it’s wrong for a beauty like you to hide from a handsome man like him” (Shakespeare 45). Lady Capulet suggests to Juliet that Paris needs Juliet to make him look good and complete his life by having his children. She also suggests that Juliet will be useless if she does not marry Paris and give birth to his children. In this time, women were typically objectified for sexual purposes and in having children, the husband would have an heir to his belongings.

Moreover, the Nurse adds a comment to this line, saying: “Go, girl, look for a man who’ll give you happy nights at the end of happy days” (Shakespeare 47). The Nurse, by saying this, helps Lady Capulet in hinting that Juliet will satisfy Paris’s desires. Both the Nurse and Lady Capulet want Juliet to marry Paris because of his social status and physical beauty. In brief, Act One shows that Romeo and Juliet’s friends and family act upon gender roles, causing the lovers to question their feelings.

Moreover, in Act Two, examples of Romeo and Juliet’s rebellious ways towards their parents’ nurture is shown many times which causes the teenagers to rebel from their parents’ ways. For example, in the Prologue, the Chorus states: “But he has to make his speeches of love to a woman who’s supposed to be his enemy. And she’s been hooked by someone she should fear. Because he’s an enemy, Romeo has no chance to see Juliet and say the things a lover normally says” (Shakespeare 73). The Chorus’s use of the phrase “…she should fear” shows that Juliet’s parents have taught her the she must fear the Montagues.

It also shows that Juliet knows that she is supposed to fear the Montagues for the honor of her family. The Chorus’s use of the phrase “…who’s supposed to be his enemy” also shows that Romeo knows he must also fear the Capulets for the honor of his family name. In a similar way, Juliet says: “Or else, if you won’t change your name, just swear you love me and I’ll stop being a Capulet” (Shakespeare 81). Juliet openly states that she will deny her family name for her “love” of Romeo even if it means denying her parents teachings leading to her being disowned. Juliet knows there would be an extreme consequence if her family found out about Romeo and Juliet’s forbidden love.

Likewise, Juliet also says to Romeo: “If any of my relatives find you here, they’ll kill you because of who you are” (Shakespeare 83). Juliet says this warning because the Capulet’s long-lasting hatred is strong enough that they would kill an enemy for being close to a family member. Romeo is risking his life because he believes he loves Juliet and would die for her sake. In summary, Romeo and Juliet start to rebel against the stressful, authoritative parenting styles of the Capulet and Montague Families in Act Two of Romeo and Juliet.

Romeo shows multiple examples of his parents’ enforced gender roles towards women seen in Act Two. An example of Romeo expressing the stereotypes in gender is shown when he says: “Virginity makes her look sick and green. Only fools hold on to their virginity. Let it go” (Shakespeare 79). This shows that Romeo has been taught to see women as objects for sexual desires. He verbally expresses his lust for her, showing that he does not truly love her because he has not been taught what true love is. Furthermore, Romeo shows his lust again in saying: “It’s enough for me if I can call her mine” (Shakespeare 133).

Once again, Romeo shows that he desires ownership of Juliet because he has a lust for her. Strengthening this desire is the fact that Romeo and Juliet had never met each other when they “fell in love”, leading to Romeo and Juliet’s wish to have each other for their physical beauty. In conclusion, during Act Two, Romeo is stereotypically assigning roles towards women because he has been taught so by his parents.

In Act Three, Romeo and Juliet’s family and friends show their opinions that have been enforced by the family leaders. For example, Mercutio says: “It’s hot outside, and the Capulets are wondering around. If we bump into them, we’ll certainly get into a fight. When it’s hot outside, people become angry and hot-blooded” (Shakespeare 137). Mercutio tries to use the temperature as his excuse to fight the Capulets. He and Benvolio know that if they see a Capulet family member, they will get in a fight. This is because the Capulet and Montague teachings of hatred toward the opposite family are strongly believed. In addition to this, Tybalt says to Romeo: “Romeo, there is only one thing I can call you. You’re a villain” (Shakespeare 141). Tybalt’s use of the word “villain” shows that he has been taught that Romeo is an awful person even though Tybalt has never met Romeo. Tybalt uses strong words against Romeo, strengthening his hatred towards the Montague Family.

Again, a member of the Capulet family shows their family bias when Lady Capulet says: “Benvolio is part of the Montague Family. His loyalties to the Montagues make him tell lies” (Shakespeare 153). Lady Capulet, after finding out about Tybalt’s death by Romeo, uses her hatred against Benvolio and accuses him of lying for the sake of his Family name. She is caught in the grief of seeing her nephew dead, so she starts blaming her enemies for not telling the whole truth. In summary, Romeo and Juliet’s family members start showing hatred directly to their enemies in Act Three.

Similarly, Act Three shows gender roles being enforced causing Romeo to feel the need to hide his emotions and Juliet to marry against her will. For example, Friar Lawrence says to Romeo: “Are you a man? You look like a man, but your tears make you look like a woman” (Shakespeare 177). In this instance, Romeo is crying because he is going to be banished. Because of his tears, Friar Lawrence frowns upon him and tells him to act more like a man; this is because, in this time, men were supposed to be brave and not show any sad emotion which would make him appear vulnerable. Again, Friar Lawrence says to Romeo: “But like a misbehaved, sullen girl, you’re whining about your bad luck and your love” (Shakespeare 179). Women in this time were not frowned upon for being weak and vulnerable or crying and whining. However, men were not supposed to act like this and by Friar Lawrence’s scolding for showing these emotions, Romeo does not feel as supported and is forced to bottle up his emotions. In brief, Friar Lawrence harms Romeo’s mental health by scolding him for his emotions which can lead to depression and suicidal thoughts.

In Act Four and Five, Juliet’s parents try show emotions towards her that they have never shown before after her fake death and real death, but their comments are selfish. Gender role stereotypes are also shown from Capulet. For example, Capulet says: “Why did this have to happen now? Why did Death have to ruin our wedding” (Shakespeare 239). Capulet is trying to sound genuine and caring, but in saying Death ruined his wedding, he sounds selfish because he wanted a man to be an heir to his possessions and riches. Because Juliet “died”, Capulet will die, and his family name will be no more. Capulet also says: “That knife should be in its sheath on that Montague’s back, but instead it’s mis-sheathed in my daughter’s breast” (Shakespeare 279).

Even in a time of sadness, Capulet finds a way to make the situation about his problems. When he should be grieving, he is instead thinking about his personal fight with the Montagues. As an example of gender stereotypes, Capulet says to Lady Capulet: “I’m not going to bed tonight. Leave me alone. I’ll pretend to be the housewife for once” (Shakespeare 223). He is implying, in context, that it is the woman’s job to decorate and plan major events. In this time, women would stay up late and organize the big events while men would lounge around or sleep. In summary, Capulet does not show the proper emotions for the circumstances in a time of sadness and mourning, and he acts upon the time’s gender roles during Act Four and Five.

Some say that the reason for Romeo and Juliet’s suicide is because of their undeveloped teenage brains. Evidence proving this can be found in two articles read. For example, Sarah Spinks writes: “The teens mostly used the amygdala, a small almond shaped region that guides instinctual or ‘gut’ reactions, while the adults relied on the frontal cortex, which governs reason and planning” (Spinks). Because teens use the gut-relying amygdala, they are prone to make impulsive decisions. Juliet’s decision to kill herself can be linked to impulsive decision-making skills. Hannah Osborne writes: “Teenagers are impatient because developing brain connections make it difficult for them to see the benefit of waiting longer for a larger reward” (Osborne).

Romeo and Juliet can be called impatient because they did not wait for the other to wake up before instantly killing themselves. They did not think of long-term consequences because if they would have waited, their marriage could have been accepted and they could have lived longer. However, this is wrong because they killed themselves because they are scared that they will be frowned upon for denying what their parents have taught them. This is seen when Juliet says: “Or else, if you don’t change your name, just swear you love me, and I’ll stop being a Capulet” (Shakespeare 81). Juliet openly states that she will leave her family for Romeo. She says this quietly while she is alone because of her parents authoritative parenting styles. In brief, Juliet and Romeo commit suicide because they have been taught what they do is wrong, and their death is not caused by psychological matters.

In conclusion, if Romeo and Juliet’s parents treated them right, they would not have had a reason to commit suicide because they would be free to love each other. Their parenting styles are seen throughout the entire play as well as the enforced gender stereotypical ways leading to forced relationships. Teens like Romeo and Juliet need supportive parents because authoritative parenting styles and enforced gender roles can cause depression and can lead to suicide.