Romeo and Juliet is a tragic love story that has been told for over 400 years. The most critical question in the play, how old was Romeo? is not answered in Shakespeare’s original text. Scholars have debated how old he would be at the time of his death, but there are many different opinions about answering this question. This article will explore how scholars date Romeo and discuss why they feel that their dating method is best.
Romeo is never explicitly stated to be old or young. He might be anywhere from thirteen to twenty-one years old, though he is frequently portrayed as being around the age of sixteen.
He is referred to as a youngster. Lord Capulet refers to him as “Young Romeo” (I.5). Even so, Romeo remarks:
And, to say truth, Verona brags of him
To be a virtuous and well-govern’d youth:
I would not for the wealth of all the town
Here in my house do him disparagement:
Despite this, there is no proof that Romeo is 18 or 23 years old. We might infer that he’s still in high school rather than assuming he’s in his twenties or thirties. He could be Juliet’s age.
The notion that Elizabethan couples married early has been disputed by social historians in recent years. Although the setting of Romeo and Juliet appears to be early 14th Century Italy, Shakespeare’s cultural model is essentially Elizabethan England, where physical maturity arrived later than it does today: girls matured at fourteen to fifteen, whereas boys developed at sixteen to eighteen. Children were still considered youngsters below the age of 15.
The legal age of marriage was 14 until the late 18th century, when it was raised to 16. Early adolescent marriages were uncommon, and in the few cases on record, the youngsters were either not betrothed or not permitted to consummate their vows until later.
Aside from that, what was the age gap between Romeo and Juliet in William Shakespeare’s play? The precise age of Romeo is never mentioned in William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Juliet is 13 years old, and she is nearly on her 14th birthday. We can reasonably presume that Romeo is older than Juliet since puberty (girls mature at 11-13, whereas boys do not reach maturity until they are 15 or later)
Maybe he’s a year or two younger. I’d guess that Romeo is about the same age as Juliet, or perhaps a year or two older, to reflect an Elizabethan audience’s assumption that the two were on an equal footing.
Shakespeare frequently took liberties with the setting to distance himself from typical British customs. Romeo and Juliet are individuals possessed by passions that correspond more with young adolescents than with those of more developed characters.
The Problem of Age in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet
The incredibly young age of Romeo and Juliet, when they wed, has a significant impact on the play’s course and conclusion in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. According to J. Karl Franson’s essay “Too Soon Marred,” Shakespeare uses numbers throughout the drama as symbolism. They are not responsible for the play’s tragic end or the circumstances in which they got caught up in it.
Throughout the play, numerous allusions are made to suggest the ages of Romeo and Juliet. The idea I discovered to support this assertion is a numerical representation of Juliet’s age.
This idea suggests that numerous features are symbols of Juliet’s youth throughout the play, such as the number of letters in her complete name, the number of times Romeo refers to her by name, and the number of sonnets spoken between Romeo and Juliet. The number of guests invited to Capulet’s party is another example.
Although Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet is set in Elizabethan England, historians don’t accept several parts as true. For example, the notion that Elizabethan couples married at such a young age, like in Romeo and Juliet. In contrast, the typical marrying age for Elizabethans was 25-26 years old for both males and females (Franson, p. 2).
Elizabethans felt that early marriage caused irreversible damage to a woman’s health. Getting married would have an adverse effect on the young man’s physical and mental development and his children’s health. (Franson p.l)
According to one historian, the earliest acceptable age to give birth was 18 years old, and the optimum ages for women to get married were 20 and 30 years old. One author claimed that Shakespeare wrote this play about young love to demonstrate the perils of getting married so early, and it has even been suggested that he did so because of his first marriage at 18, which was unsuccessful (Franson p. 112).