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The classic play, Romeo & Juliet, depicts the fate of two star-crossed lovers who have had to hide their love from their feuding families. Often the idea is debated that the play should even be taught in schools because it is outdated compared to the modern literary works. However, the play is still important because of its quality to offer the chance to teach teenagers about how other teenagers throughout history that have gone through the same things as they have such as acting on impulse, erratic emotions, and rebellion.
The resemblance to teens today and the characters of Romeo and Juliet are in the way that they act.
The first likeness is that they do not think before doing something. They just act off of impulse. One example of this is when Tybalt killed Mercutio so Romeo went and killed Tybalt. As can be read in the play when Romeo said “Alive in triumph—and Mercutio slain! Away to heaven, respective lenity, And fire-eyed fury be my conduct now.
Now, Tybalt, take the “villain” back again That late thou gavest me, for Mercutio’s soul’s but a little way above our heads, Staying for thine to keep him company. Either thou or I, or both, must go with him.” (Act 3, Scene 1 Page 1092 ). To summarize in other words he said that Tybalt is alive and victorious but Mercutio is dead and he shall let rage guide him, to send one of them up to be with Mercutio in heaven. This relates to teenagers today by showing that acting off of impulse causes bad things to happen, like how Romeo was exiled from Verona for killing Tybalt.
The same thing can happen to a teenager today when someone says something to them and they get into a fight because they did not think so then they will have repercussions as Romeo had.
The second likeness of teens today to Romeo and Juliet is also being very overemotional throughout the play. As when Romeo has just broken up with Rosaline and he decides to go to the masquerade party. At the party he instantaneously falls in love with Juliet, disregarding the fact that she was at a Capulet party and would most likely be a Capulet, he instead says to himself, “It seems she hangs upon the cheek of night Like a rich jewel in an Ethiop’s ear – Beauty too rich for use, for earth too dear!” (Act 1, Scene 5, Page 1059). Romeo basically said Juliet stands out against the dark night like the jewel on an African’s ear and she is too beautiful to be human. He is also overemotional when he talks to the friar about being exiled from Verona. For one thing, he said, “Ha, banishment! Be merciful, say ‘death,’ For exile hath more terror in his look, Much more than death. Do not say ‘banishment.’” ( Act 3, Scene 3 Page 1099 ). Basically, he would rather be executed as a punishment than be exiled and stay alive. This helps teens that live today to understand that even teenagers from the Elizabethan period had emotional problems and were sometimes overdramatic but it also makes them realize that they have more resources today than a friar who makes a plan for children to run away and get elope.
The final reason that teens today are like Romeo and Juliet is that they are both rebellious. Juliet is rebellious because she wants to be with Romeo, her sworn enemy, but all her parents are aware of is she is being stubborn about marrying Paris, the nice young man they picked out for her to marry. As a result, Juliet says, “He shall not make me there a joyful bride! ” (Act 3, Scene 5, Page 1109). Then Juliet says ‘I will not marry yet. And when I do, I swear’ ‘It shall be Romeo, whom you know I hate,’ ‘Rather than Paris’ (Act 3, Scene 5 Page 1109 ). Juliet actually admits to her parents that she would rather marry Romeo, her worst enemy, than Paris! Juliet and her parents are talking about Juliet refusing to marry Paris, the perfect man, the one her parents approve of. And when her father hears this he threatens to trough her out on the street, and all she says is that she does not want to marry Paris, which infuriates him even more. This shows how teens are held up to such high standards by their parents and the teens do not always want to follow that path their parents have set for them so they rebel and do what they want to do instead of what their parents want them to do.
So why should Romeo and Juliet be tough in schools, because it teaches real-life lessons with the worst possible outcome. The play also can relate to teenagers and wanting to do stuff by themselves. To conclude teenagers throughout history have had to deal with erratic emotions, rebellion, and being impulsive, but this does not mean that they have to end up like Romeo and Juliet. By reading the play it gives teenagers a chance to connect with characters and see what can happen when they do not communicate with their parents. It also shows that by holding grudges you do not just harm yourself but others.
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