Romeo and Juliet: Star-Crossed Lovers of the Fourteenth Century

Decent Essays

William Shakespeare wrote the tragedy Romeo and Juliet in sixteenth-century England, though it takes place in fourteenth-century Italy. The play follows the lives of two children from rivaling families, the Montagues and the Capulets. Romeo Montague and Juliet Capulet should never have met, but when Romeo sneaked into the Capulet feast, his eyes laid on Juliet, and he immediately found her the most beautiful girl he had ever seen. Juliet thought the same of Romeo, and the two stole away to get a bit of time alone. Social norms, family expectations, and personal will all factored into Romeo and Juliet’s relationship choices. Social norms differ greatly between now and the age of Romeo and Juliet. The two young lovers would have thought it completely normal to marry at such a young age as they did. Juliet’s own mother said it herself, with the words “Well, think of marriage now. Younger than you / Here in Verona, ladies of esteem, / Are made already mothers” (I.iii.75-77). At only thirteen years of age, a girl today may dream of marrying, but would not actually plan on marriage until she grew much older. However, many young girls in fourteenth-century Italy had already found husbands, and some had even had children. Also, many families arranged their children’s marriages, and rarely did men and women marry for love, as Romeo and Juliet decided to. This went against the social norm, but the two did not care, because they had fallen in love and wanted to stay together forever.

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