How did Shakespeare’s book Romeo and Juliet influence the relationship between men and women in modern society?
It’s a virtual guarantee that just about everyone read Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet in high school, and it’s a certainty that everyone’s written an essay on Romeo and Juliet, as well! Thought of as a perfect lesson for kids at that time, this play is thought to be one of the best plays ever written about forbidden love. It’s this ubiquitous quality that it has that has people comparing it to today’s relationships.
But, is Romeo and Juliet a great influence on relationships between men and women even today? There is no doubt that this was the subject of more than one essay about Romeo and Juliet, although a Romeo and Juliet essay usually explores other topics. Many would argue yes on this subject, but there are indications that this play has had an effect on certain relationships, but not all of them.
The Tragical History of Romeus and Juliet
What’s interesting to note when it comes to this play that influences people’s concept of relationships even in modern society is that it wasn’t an original idea of Shakespeare’s but actually came from a poem written by Arthur Brooke in 1562.
The Tragical History of Romeus and Juliet served as the key inspiration for what would become the great play that people still talk about today. This doesn’t lessen the impact of the play that would be remembered for centuries to come, but it does show that these themes of love go back further than people think.
Indeed, the poem itself is based on another similar work that was published in 1554. This lineage for the play goes back to the fifteenth century and indicates that the concept of this couple has deep roots.
The Romeo and Juliet Effect
The greatest indication of the play’s effect on today’s relationships is the psychological effect that was named after the play. This effect centers on the fact that Romeo and Juliet fall in love and continue their relationship despite the knowledge that their families are feuding.
The Romeo and Juliet effect has become known today as a circumstance where a couple’s infatuation with each other only increases with the knowledge that their parents are opposed to their relationship. One can find a Romeo and Juliet essay example anywhere that mentions this effect.
This, however, isn’t an influence on today’s relationships so much as a moniker that denotes some similarities to the relationship in the play. The Romeo and Juliet relationship, however, is kept in secret from their families because revealing it to them would put the couple and others in mortal danger.
The greatest effect that Romeo and Juliet have on today’s relationships is that of young love. It is, after all, pretty rare that an adult couple keeps their relationship secret out of fear that their kids will start a deadly feud.
Romeo and Juliet’s real effect is to show people that the love that youth have for one another is intense, but through their deaths as a metaphor, it also shows that relationships at this age are ephemeral. People could write an entire essay about Romeo and Juliet just on this subject alone.
People who watch the play or see one of its many adaptions are used to seeing the two leads played by people in their twenties. This misleads the audience into believing that this couple is made up of grown adults who make the decision to be together.
What many people forget is that Juliet is specifically said to be thirteen in the play. Romeo’s exact age is never given, but he is described as “a youth”, and most people believe that he was probably fourteen or fifteen years of age. If this seems like a time when kids aren’t exactly realistic about love and marriage, then it should.
A Cautionary Tale
The greatest effect that Romeo and Juliet has in today’s world is that it’s still taught in high school and the choice of this play isn’t by accident. Shakespeare wrote more than thirty plays, so there are plenty to choose from. Indeed, some are believed to be better, like Hamlet, Richard III, and Henry V.
So, why not opt for one of the others? Certainly, high school boys would cheer at the battle scenes in Henry V and love to sneer at the evil Richard III as he continuously abuses his power.
The reason why Romeo and Juliet is taught so often in high school is because of the age of the very kids going there. The kids who read this play are frequently about sixteen and can only talk about their love for their boyfriend or girlfriend. They then go on to say they don’t understand why their father or mother doesn’t like their other half. Sound familiar?
For those young people, their teachers are giving them a cautionary tale of what happens when love is taken too far and too seriously. It’s a romantic play, yes, but it also shows kids what can happen when things are taken to extremes and the fallout that accompanies it.
Not only do Romeo and Juliet die at the end of the play, but there are many more who precede them to the grave. It’s this mound of corpses that force their rival families, the Capulets, and the Montagues to finally give up their feud.
Love Conquers All?
Many people would say that the effect of this play would be that love conquers all since Romeo and Juliet’s romance does end the fighting between their families, but at what cost does that victory come?
No, the real lessons learned from Romeo and Juliet in today’s world is a warning: Realize that love might just be infatuation and that infatuation can have severe consequences.