Is It Time To Retire Romeo And Juliet? Ctd

Noah Berlatsky sticks up for Shakespeare after Alyssa’s takedown, noting that the play is not just about young love, but about the divide between the young and old:

Rosenberg claims that Romeo and Juliet is dated because of the uncomfortable way its childishness, and its child protagonists, sit in our contemporary culture. I’d argue, though, that that uncomfortableness is not a contemporary addition, but is instead one of the things Shakespeare was writing about to begin with. At that first flirtatious meeting, for example, Romeo is masked with friends at a Capulet party. Old Capulet, seeing the maskers, reminisces about when he used to do the same. …

Capulet slips back through time… and when he stops slipping, it is Romeo who speaks and goes to woo Juliet. Capulet was Romeo, Romeo is Capulet—and so, by substitution, the lover of the daughter is the father. The mask is a device not so much to enable young love, as to enable the old to imagine young love.

In Romeo and Juliet play-acting with the categories of adult and child can lead to exhilarating delight, pleasurably moralistic revulsion and, sometimes, to tragedy. If, in our own day, we have pushed the onset of adulthood past the tweens, past the teens, and even to some degree up into the 20s—that makes the play’s insights and its sometimes exasperating perversities more relevant, not less.