reading romeo and juliet apparently makes some people very defensive. in a class discussion the other day, i piped up for the first time this quarter and said that i didn’t think romeo and juliet were actually in love, because they didn’t exercise any degree of reason in their 3-day love affair and because they were adolescents who had no conception of love beyond what their libidos were telling them. and out came the claws!
it was the general consensus of the class that romeo and juliet’s brand of immediate, uncontrollable, dangerous passionate love was an elevated form of love, that their love was somehow more pure than the long-lasting, mundane love that most people experience. someone even went as far as to quote neil young and say “it’s better to burn out than to fade away.” how poetic.
call me square, but i just fail to see the appeal of this kind of love, if you can even call it that. i feel forced to bear my post-romantic teeth at the thought of such awesome recklessness/immaturity/selfishness falling under the category of love. i just try to imagine what their lives would be like if everything didn’t go tragically awry for them: they would have lots of passionate sex for a while, but then romeo would develop a roving eye, juliet would cuckold him, and there would always be that underlying tension of their families hating each other. there is no way they could maintain that intense level of passion for any longer than they did, so i guess there was no choice but for their story to end tragically; maybe that’s why people like it. in my mind, passion is kind of like caffeine: you can only run on it for so long before you get burned out, and either start looking for something else to get you going or allow what was once a high to become a routine. and everyone knows that teenagers are incapable of knowing what love is because a) they’re self-centered (and self-centered is the opposite of love) and b) because they don’t know themselves. you would think that if romeo really loved juliet, he could have restrained himself from killing her kinsman and getting himself banished and generally mucking up all their plans, but no. hrmph. fortune’s fool, indeed.
conclusion: i just can’t bring myself to romanticize their relationship (or any relationship that resembles theirs, for that matter). they were not great lovers, they were idiot kids who lived in the moment and died as a result of their inability to exercise restraint and plan ahead. and as dr. amorose said, this is the last shakespeare play that should ever be taught in high school english classes… it’s too great of an encouragement for moronic teenage lovers to be more reckless and moronic than they already are.