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Why does Romeo refer to Paris as a "youth" and himself as a "desperate man" when Paris...

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fahrenheit451... | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

Posted May 13, 2010 at 10:53 AM via web

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Why does Romeo refer to Paris as a "youth" and himself as a "desperate man" when Paris is older than Romeo in Romeo and Juliet?

This is in Act 5 scene 3.

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missy575 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted May 13, 2010 at 11:36 AM (Answer #1)

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I think you are talking about these lines:

I must indeed; and therefore came I hither.
Good gentle youth, tempt not a desperate man;
Fly hence, and leave me: think upon these gone;

The most important point in what goes on in these lines is not the age, but the adjectives that describe them. Romeo is completely losing it right now. He notes for Paris the innocence he holds by calling him both gentle and youth.  He confirms his crazed attitude in the word desperate, not deep rate. This shows he will go to any length to get what he wants. He encourages Paris to leave the premises and be safe, he doesn't want to hurt Paris but will.

Romeo isn't older, but this quick series of life events has certainly given him quite a bit of experience.

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