Romeo and Juliet is one of William Shakespeare's most popular (if not the most popular) plays. We've all heard this famous story of star-crossed lovers—whether by watching movies based on the play, attending live stage performances, or through college required reading. But have you ever wondered what it is about this teenage romance that is so appealing to such a wide-ranging audience?
While on the surface Romeo and Juliet might appear to be a story of passion, William Shakespeare also injected it with quite a few universal themes and lessons in common sense. Read on for 5 reasons why we love Romeo and Juliet, and what we can learn from their tragic tale.
1. Love at first sight isn't actually all that reliable
Romeo and Juliet seem to be the ultimate standard for love at first sight. After all, the second they laid eyes on each other they knew they were destined to be together, right?
Well...remember that just moments before Romeo sees Juliet he's actually pining for another beautiful lass named Rosalind.
In fact, he's very insistent that there's no other woman for him, until he spots the fair Juliet. Part of what makes the ensuing relationship so fiery is that Juliet actually reciprocates Romeo's feelings in full (which certainly helped with the romance). Let's face it, one of the stars of Shakespeare's most famous tragic romance is just your regular fickle teenage boy.
2. Families can be complicated
One of the reasons Romeo and Juliet is so appealing to people of all ages and walks of life, is because most of us know how complex families can be. Sure, in real life no one in your family is dying off in a violent duel with a rival (I hope), but Shakespeare's play can still be read as a metaphor for regular old family drama.
Romeo and Juliet's relationship ticked off various family members, and proved pretty chaotic for everyone involved. In the end, people on both sides pretty much realized how petty and silly all those grudges were. It's a nice reminder to look at the bigger picture when it comes to your (or your SO's) family and try not to sweat the small stuff.
3. Communication is key to a good relationship
When you really think about it, it wasn't poison or a self-inflicted wound which killed Romeo and Juliet, it was miscommunication. Everyone can agree that good communication is key to a great relationship. Shakespeare takes it one step further and offers up a cautionary tale on how very wrong things can go when a couple is a bit too demure with each other and, as a result, ends up misreading signals or getting their wires crossed.
Think I'm being dramatic? Romeo's and Juliet's deaths could have been avoided if Juliet had someone check in to make sure Romeo actually got her letter. Or they could have found a more efficient way to communicate with one another. In this context, good communication in a relationship really is a key lesson we can all learn from Shakespeare's play.
4. A relationship can't be built on lies
There can be a certain allure to a secret relationship. Sometimes keeping it a secret actually makes it feel more romantic and passionate. However, any relationship based on misleading others can't last very long—and Romeo and Juliet are proof of that.
Romeo and Juliet's relationship is built on secrecy and lying to those around them. Eventually, it all starts to backfire and eat away not just at their romance, but at their friends and family too. Romeo and Juliet aren't the only ones to pay for the lies with their lives, remember that Tybalt and Mercutio were also some serious collateral damage from this tragic relationship.
5. It's easy to get caught up in the moment
While Romeo was quite adept at using flowery language to describe how he would prove his love for Juliet, in the real world pretty words don't equal a lasting commitment. We can all understand that rush of young love and the breathy promises that come with it, but part of what continues to be appealing about Romeo and Juliet is that it's clear these words mean little without actions to back them up in the long run.
Promises and loving phrases aren't a strong foundation for a committed relationship, and perhaps that's where our star-crossed lovers went so terribly wrong. They got caught up in the moment and rushed headfirst into disaster. We've all been there, but luckily we've learned that there's more to a relationship than passionate words whispered from the balcony.
Do you think Romeo and Juliet offers some valuable lessons?
Why or why not?
Share your thoughts with us in the comments section!