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In Romeo and Juliet, Juliet is 13, but how old is Romeo?  

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jazlyn | Student, Grade 9 | (Level 2) eNoter

Posted December 3, 2008 at 6:11 AM via web

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In Romeo and Juliet, Juliet is 13, but how old is Romeo?


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robertwilliam | College Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

Posted December 3, 2008 at 7:13 AM (Answer #1)

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Good question. Juliet's age is, you're quite right, specified by the Nurse and Lady Capulet in Juliet's first scene as not-quite-fourteen.

As for Romeo's age, Shakespeare never tells us! We know - from what Friar Laurence and the Nurse comment on various occasions - that he is a "young" man (2.4.119) but we don't know precisely how young. A stage tradition has grown up of playing him as older than Juliet.

Shakespeare's sources don't really help either. Arthur Brooke's poem about Romeo and Juliet has Romeo's "tender chin" without a beard - suggesting, perhaps, anything from 12 - 18? And Bandello - whose novella Giulietta e Romeo was the source for Brooke's poem -  gives his age as 20 or 21.

So the answer is - we just don't know.

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gpane | College Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted February 4, 2015 at 12:04 PM (Answer #4)

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As robertwilliam states, Shakespeare never specifies Romeo's age. It is generally assumed he is a few years older than Juliet. The depiction of his essential youthfulness is what really matters in any case. He displays the ardent passion, the romantic idealism and also the rashness that one might say is natural to a youthful temperament.

It goes without saying that Romeo and Juliet have become the archetype of young, ill-fated lovers, attempting to breach the conventions of the adult world that surrounds them. The irony is, of course, that their elders and supposed betters display a lack of rationality and maturity in continuing their bitter feud, seemingly just for the sake of it. It is a pointless feud which ends in tragedy. Against such a backdrop, the youthful lovers appear to have better sense and judgement than their parents. This applies particularly to Juliet, who, as many have noted, displays a sense of dignity and shows a resourcefulness which would seem to belie her tender years. She is younger than Romeo but in some ways she appears the more mature of the two.


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claudia-stylesxoxo | Student, Grade 10 | eNotes Newbie

Posted December 2, 2012 at 3:39 AM (Answer #3)

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That's a good question, Romeo is supposedly to be around 18 or 19 years old.

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