META: The Problem of Subjectivity

Tom Russell milos_parker at
Thu Mar 13 09:28:17 PDT 2008

On Mar 13, 9:46 am, Andrew Burton <tuglyrai... at> wrote:

>  "Romeo and Juliet" is boring and, per a discussion with a
> co-worker/friend of mine, I find his understanding of teenagers woefully
> lacking.

While R&J isn't one of my favourite of the bard's plays, I have to
disagree with you re: his understanding of teenagers.

Romeo and Juliet is not about two teenagers in love with each other;
it's about two teens in love with the idea of being in love, so in
love with it that they kill themselves-- because they can't live
without this person they met five days ago.  (cf. Romeo's earlier
infatuation with Rosaline.)

The tragedy of Romeo and Juliet isn't that their only love springs
from their only hate, or that they're star-crossed lovers, or
whatever-- it comes from the fact that these two stupid kids can't
stop and think for about two minutes about what they're doing.  It's
the same impulse that leads Romeo to slay Juliet's cousin.

Pure impulse, no reckoning consequences, and a feeling that no one can
ever understand their love which is of course the greatest and purest
love ever and will always last forever and ever?

I'd say that's the very definition of a teenager.

The problem with Romeo and Juliet-- other than length, which I'll give
Will a pass on because that was pretty standard for his time-- is not
that the play is some bad, swelling love story but that the majority
of teachers teach it as a bad, swelling love story.  It actually has
very little to do with actual love and a lot to do with stupid kids in
a hurry to grow-up.

If it's taught that way, I think it'd be far more relevant to today's
young readers.


More information about the racc mailing list