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Romeo and Juliet, the world’s most well-known “young, star-crossed lovers”, have been seen as the model of “true love” since their roles first graced the stage of the Globe Theatre. But was the pair actually in love? Were they simply in love with the concept of being with one another? Did the two even understand what it meant to be in love with someone? There is no possible way Romeo and Juliet could have been in love with one another, instead, the pair was infatuated.
Before understanding what “being in love” and “infatuation” mean for Romeo and Juliet, one must understand these definitions without the context of the script. What does it mean to be infatuated? According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, infatuation is a feeling of foolish or obsessively strong love for, admiration for, or interest in someone or something: strong and unreasoning attachment. Being in love, however, is quite different from infatuation; Extremely different in all honesty. To be in love means to care for someone very much in a romantic way. To the eye, these definitions seem to work together, hand in hand, but on the contrary. Infatuation is often based on physical attraction alone. Being in love relates to the depths of one’s psyche and the unity of two souls.
Because infatuation is typically based on an initial, physical attraction, the infatuated pair tends to not think about the world around them but instead focus on their newfound chemistry. This is a common theme in the story of Romeo and Juliet in its entirety. We first see Romeo heartbroken over Rosaline of Capulet, his former lover who made the decision to become a nun, in Act I, Scene I. Romeo quickly gets over Rosaline in Act I, Scene V when he lays eyes on Juliet at a party in the Capulet hall. Romeo’s quickness to fall out of love with Rosaline- whom he was just crying over in the woods, further proves that he is simply infatuated with Juliet, just as she is with him.
“Infatuation is childish. Love is mature”. Romeo is known to be roughly sixteen or seventeen years old when these events take place. Juliet has not even turned fourteen, the common age of marriage during the fourteenth century, during these events. This being said, the reader must ask themself, “are two children capable of being mature enough to truly fall in love?” While some may answer yes, the reality of this is that Romeo, considered to be a young adult in this time period, in more mature than Juliet, who is still known to be a meer child. Their “love” is far too passionate for knowing one another for just a few short days. This dynamic clearly resembles a stereotypical high school relationship portrayed in classic American teen films, like Mean Girls, Can’t Buy Me Love, and Thirteen Going On Thirty. The characters experience a simple “crush”, a brief but intense infatuation for someone, especially someone unattainable or inappropriate.
Because Romeo and Juliet knew one another for such a short period of time, there is no possible way the pair could have been in love. Seeing as the pair was simply just two teenagers, one more mature than the other, that mistook their “crushes” for love. “Infatuation makes you act irrationally or ‘crazy’.” This theme is constant throughout the story. Considering the basic plot is the pair meeting, “falling in love”, secretly marrying one another, and dying because their love was not accepted by others, it all seems too intense to be real. While the infamous star-crossed lovers believed they were in love, today, society has easily disproved such things with a basic analysis of text, psychology, and common sense.
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