What is the relationship between Romeo and Juliet?
The relationship between Romeo and Juliet can be largely defined as the passionate, all-consuming first “love” of two relatively naive teenagers, as that is what the characters are. Juliet is 13 years old (Act 1, scene 2, line 12), and assumedly, Romeo is not much older. And while Juliet is advised by her mother to begin thinking very seriously about marriage, both her and Romeo are very inexperienced in romance. Romeo is initially infatuated with Rosaline, whose lack of reciprocating feelings causes him to be morose and cynical about “love” on the whole (Act 1, scene 1, lines 189-197), which reveal his affection and understanding of love revolve more around the concept of “love” rather than on a specific person. Romeo and Juliet fall in love entirely on appearances, with Romeo completely snapping out of his previous grief, claiming “Did my heart love till now? Forswear it, sight! For I ne’er saw true beauty till this night.” (Act 1, scene 5, lines 54-55). Juliet experiences a similarly quick reaction, as she says to Romeo, “My ears have yet not drunk a hundred words of thy tongue’s uttering, yet I know the sound.” (Act 2, scene 2, lines 58-59). And despite her recognition of the unadvisable quickness of their affections in lines 117-118 in Act 2, scene 2, “...I have no joy of this contact tonight. It is too rash, too unadvised, too sudden…” Juliet and Romeo’s love continues to overshadow everything else. Juliet proclaims, “if all else fail, myself have power to die,” in answer to her possible marriage to Paris, indicating her desire to die rather than be with someone besides Romeo (Act 3, scene 5, line 244). Juliet’s love for Romeo surpasses her grief over his killing her cousin, Tybalt, as she reconciles, “My husband lives, that Tybalt would have slain; And Tybalt’s dead, that would have slain my husband. All this is comfort…” (Act 3, scene 2, lines 105-107). And while Juliet and Romeo may love with intensity, it’s still a very immature, illogical love. This is evidenced in Romeo’s actions after his banishment, when he weakly attempts to stab himself. As the Friar states in lines 117-118, Romeo failed to think of how his suicide would have affected Juliet. The blinding nature of their loves, coupled with their relative inexperience, culminates in their eventual suicides, spurred by Romeo’s failure to control his emotions in the wake of hearing of Juliet’s “death.”