Is the play Romeo and Juliet relevant for teenagers today?

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The contemporary relevance of Romeo and Juliet for teenagers lies in the fact that it deals with two young people who are forbidden from seeing each other by their families. Many young adults the world over find themselves in a similar situation, unable to follow the dictates of their heart...

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The contemporary relevance of Romeo and Juliet for teenagers lies in the fact that it deals with two young people who are forbidden from seeing each other by their families. Many young adults the world over find themselves in a similar situation, unable to follow the dictates of their heart because of parental disapproval. In most cases, parents are only acting with the best of intentions, but to a teenager in love that's not how it seems. To him or her it seems like they're being treated unjustly, prevented from seeing the boy or girl of their dreams for no good reason.

Yet most of such relationships don't last; in fact, many of them end in considerable heartbreak. Therein lies the further relevance of Romeo and Juliet to today's young adults. Romeo and Juliet's love ends in catastrophe, with both the star-cross'd lovers meeting their deaths in the most tragic circumstances imaginable.

Now most teenage relationships don't end in such horrific circumstances, thank goodness, but to those involved it certainly feels just as bad. Young people often feel utterly bereft at the break up of a relationship. To them, it seems like the end of the world. So long as they continue to feel this way—and it's a reasonable assumption that they will—Romeo and Juliet will speak to successive generations of heartbroken teenagers the world over.

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Although Shakespeare's classic play is set in the 1300s, there are several themes and elements that teenagers can relate to in modern society. Despite Shakespeare's use of the relatively difficult Early Modern English language, the archaic family feud, and outdated gender roles and customs, modern teenagers can relate to Romeo and Juliet's feelings and outlook on life. Both characters are portrayed as romantic individuals who make rash decisions to be with the person they love and admire.

Teenagers can also relate to Romeo and Juliet's desire to gain independence and autonomy from their authoritative, strict parents. Romeo's melancholy nature and hypersensitive personality are also relevant to emotional, passionate teenagers. The love that Romeo and Juliet share along with their determination to reject their family's opinions to be together is primarily what makes Shakespeare's classic play relevant to teenagers in today's society.

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Although William Shakespeare's famous play, Romeo and Juliet, is set several centuries ago, I think many of its themes are still quite relevant to the lives and interests of young people today. Let's consider some of the major dynamics of the play:

  • Romeo and Juliet come from feuding families and are essentially forbidden to be together.
  • Juliet's parents want to secure her future by marrying her to the well-off Paris.
  • Romeo and Juliet are young adults who wish to establish their independence and find happiness.

I think modern-day teenagers can relate to some extent to each of these situations. Many young people want things their parents have forbidden, and are willing to go to extreme lengths to experience their heart's desires. Part of this willingness is because young adults are bridging the time and responsibilities of childhood and adulthood; at this age, they're supposed to be trying to make decisions for themselves. At the same time, parents believe they have their children's best interests at heart and may make a decision they feel is appropriate even if it means upsetting their children.

As for the grand theme of love, I think love regularly makes fools of people of all ages. If nothing else, perhaps teenagers can relate to Romeo and Juliet's passion for one another and recognize that repeating their decisions of faking their deaths and running away is not a good idea.

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