In Romeo and Juliet, why is Romeo not in love with Rosaline or Juliet? Why is it just infatuation?

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William Delaney | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Shakespeare'sRomeo and Julietis about young love. That is one of the things that is so touching about the play, especially to older people. It seems true enough that Romeo is fickle and ready to fall in love with any pretty girl, whereas Juliet is terribly young and naive about love. But that is the way young love is: both the boy and the girl are ready to give their hearts away without reservations, making lifelong commitments on the basis of a very short acquaintance. It is only when people are young that they can do that--at least according to Shakespeare's view as presented in this play. Allthough the feelings of the two young people may be misguided, the feelings are still real enough. The play is more about young love--"that first fine careless rapture"--than about two specific individuals whose parents didn't like each other. The story had to end with the deaths of the two young lovers because that sort of love is terribly fragile and doesn't last. Maybe it burns itself out with its own heat.

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