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Reckless Love

romeo%26juliet_6_lg-761144.gifLately I've been thinking about the nature of love as shown in Romeo and Juliet because of recently rewatching Slings and Arrows and Shakespeare in Love.

To recap, Romeo, on the rebound, falls madly in love with the daughter of his father's rival, Juliet. They get secretly married and have a night of unbridled lust. In a flight of rage, Romeo kills Juliet's cousin, and consequently is banished. Lovesick, Juliet carries out a desperate ploy and fakes her own death causing Romeo to take his own life and, as a nice red bow on this, she kills herself.

And this, my friends, is what is held up as the paragon of love.

My 14 year old daughter said it best, "My friends say they want a love like Romeo and Juliet, but they both kill themselves. Yeck."

Romeo and Juliet's love burns bright and brief, consuming everything in its path, and then explodes, creating devastation and grief, though, it should be said, an unhappy peace between their families.

And yet their love, if it can be called that, is compelling. I'd argue it is compelling in the same way as other tragic figures of the stage and history. They get to live out our fantasies while we can safely sit in our seats and watch the train wreck. Like King Claudius, Shylocke, and MacBeth, Romeo and Juliet live out their compulsion fully before our eyes, where society would keep our passions in check.

At the risk of being called unromantic, I think that the love that consumed Romeo and Juliet cannot in any sense be called a mature love, but that doesn't mean that it's not real and vital.

I think that we, stuck in the humdrum of the ordinary really desire this bright, dangerous, and destructive thing. But we don't want the true consequences of a passion that burns so bright.


Emma, may you always be so sensible!

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