Revisiting the Classics : How Old Is Romeo?

We last talked about this question back in November 2006, and it continues to be the most popular item on the site (at least for Google hits, if not comments).  I tend to blog and forget, and I don’t always take time to remember that people stumbling across the blog now don’t always cruise through the archives or use my cool new search box over there… Anyway, how old is Romeo?  It’s a harder question than you might think.  We know that Juliet is 13, it says so right in the story.  But if you’ve found yourself thinking “That must make Romeo 13 as well…” not so fast. Some highlights from the original conversation, which I encourage people to check out…

I have always read Romeo as being on the upper end of 15, or early 16. (Some of the arguments I’ve heard putting him toward 18 always seemed inexplicably "off.") This way, he’s just young enough to be so wanton and so reckless with his sentiments (c.f., the Rosalind fiasco), but not quite old enough to have had enough experiences to jade him accordingly.

The Juliet in the original novel – Romeo and Guilietta – is eighteen.

Modern (i.e. post German Romantic) make him younger than he originally was. a 21 year old would have been right – but suggestions of molestation to modern audiences wipe out the possibilities.   I think it’s awfully creepy that Juliet was like 13.  My little sister is very mature for her age but it makes my heart sick to think of her in a similar situation of Juliet.

General opinion seems to have him in his late teens, possibly as old as 21.  Whether or not that’s creepy, or normal for the time, is the subject of much discussion. 🙂

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