I'm writing an essay on the tragedy of Romeo and Juliet and I need some ideas on how to prove that Juliet is merely experiencing her first infatuation rather than actually loving Romeo.
I agree with the previous answer. A good first step is to differentiate between love and infatuation. I also think it would be helpful to consult some online material on the topic. While it may seem a little silly, eHarmony has a good article about the difference between the two. In the article, eHarmony notes:
1. Real love is a conscious choice that often employs the rational part of our brains.
2. Real love accepts that your partner is a fallible, imperfect human, just as you are.
3. Real love ebbs and flows in terms of interest, ease, and feelings.
4. Real love is based on shared values and a solid friendship.
Now, let's examine the relationship of Romeo and Juliet. Their relationship progresses at an alarmingly rapid rate. Research on "real love" often discusses how love takes a lot of time to develop and mature. To many adults, love is seen as a deep and lasting bond. This bond, however, takes months and years to mature and develop. In Western culture, we are often inundated with depictions of love (like in Romeo and Juliet) that happen immediately. The phrase "love at first sight" is often used. However, psychologists and relationship experts deny this idea. If you were to use current text on love, like the one above, you would see that Romeo and Juliet are experiencing extreme infatuation. They are not rational, nor do they really understand each others' interests. Instead, they exhibit all the classic signs of infatuation. Of course, their infatuation could develop into a love, but the play does not give them enough time to mature their feelings for one another.
I think the first thing to do would be to make a distinction between infatuation and love. Infatuation is defined as a strong but foolish adoration.
Juliet can be shown to be feeling a strong but foolish adoration for Romeo based on her speech and actions. In Act 1, Scene V Juliet, upon first meeting Romeo, literally kisses him twice during a dance in her home. (lines 104-110) After doing so, she identifies him as "[her] only love" (136)
Even by the end of Act 1, Juliet knows nothing about Romeo aside from his looks, his kissing ability, and the fact that he is a Montague. At this point, I would argue that to experience love, a person should know a bit more about another individual.
THE NEXT DAY, Juliet (in the famous balcony scene) tells Romeo she is feeling "[her] true love's passion" (line 104) Following this, Romeo proposes marriage, and Juliet accepts. Again, she has learned nothing about him.
This infatuation is not only overcoming Juliet, however. It also consumes Romeo, and this infatuation is recognized for what it is by Friar Lawrence in the next scene, after Romeo asks him to perform the ceremony, "Holy Saint Francis! What a change is here! Is Rosaline, that thou didst love so dear, So soon forsaken? Young men's love then lies Not truly in their hearts, but in their eyes." (65-68) Friar Lawrence recognizes the same emotion Juliet demonstrates mirrored in Romeo.
There are more examples along this vein, but I believe those examples would support your point. Hope it helps!