What is the significance of the potential difference in viewing of Romeo and Juliet by old and young people?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think that the most conventional way of approaching the question is to suggest that the older the audience, the better the chance they will recognize the overall futility in the quest shared by Romeo and Juliet.  The perception would be that older audiences would view the "star- crossed lovers'" actions as not rational or completely thought through.  In contrast, the perception would be that younger people would "get" the enthusiasm of both lovers and understand their "fierce urgency of now," to use a phrase from Dr. King.  Yet, I would suggest that such a view might deny what is the overall strength of the work.  I think that Shakespeare is presenting a work that does an excellent job of being able to assess how individuals view love, or perceived love, in the face of others.  The larger issue would be that the reader, young and old alike, is forced to assess the role of individual emotions and subjectivity in the face of objectivity.  Old and young audiences would be able to approach this in perhaps different ways, but their own experiences would lend a sense of identification to what Romeo and Juliet endured.