Romeo and Juliet is not a cautionary tale about young love

Most people often view Romeo and Juliet as a story with the message “listen to your parents.” I think the complete opposite it true. There’s a lot of evidence that suggests the story was meant to be more of a warning to parents, and to the audience, about the negative effects of arranged marriage. I think that Shakespeare was in fact a supporter of companionate marriage. Reading Romeo and Juliet from this perspective gets us away from the mindset that high school teachers force upon us. It’s not just a tale of warning in the form of a love story about two dumb teenagers, it’s a story that takes on the old (depending on culture and geography) practice of arranged marriage (and the patriarchy!). Somebody should explore this further; change someone’s mind about Shakespeare, particularly Romeo and Juliet.

  • I like this take. I always feel it's a little wrong to solely blame "dumb teenagers." If their parents and families didn't irrationally hold onto a violent grudge (with a reason they cannot remember), the bloodshed and need for secrecy would have never happened, and Juliet's father is especially abusive when she doesn't want to do what he says by marrying Paris. It takes several deaths for their families to come to their senses and resolve the dispute. – Emily Deibler 5 years ago
  • Very interesting. It's worth exploring M. Scott Peck's distinction between the commitment of "love" and the feeling of "falling in love." – proflong 5 years ago
  • Another very limiting and constrictive reading of a complex story. – T. Palomino 2 years ago

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