Youth and Privacy in Romeo and Juliet


  • Rachel Prusko University of Alberta



Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet, youth, adolescence, privacy, subjectivity, stage, language


Passionate, dramatic, secretive, and misunderstood, Romeo and Juliet represent adolescence in ways that strike a familiar chord for audiences today. My essay suggests, however, that these young characters likely appeared to Shakespeare’s original audiences as troubling, unsettling figures, because Romeo and Juliet dismantles extant understandings of young people in Shakespeare’s England. I argue that the play’s staging evokes the guarded interiority of its young protagonists and establishes private spaces in which they constitute themselves as adolescent subjects. Private space, in turn, makes possible a private language: a kind of teen-speak recognizable today but among its earliest manifestations.

Author Biography

Rachel Prusko, University of Alberta

Rachel Prusko ( is a lecturer in the department of English and Film Studies at the University of Alberta. Her research interests include early modern drama and literatures of childhood and youth, and she has recently completed her dissertation, Becoming Youth: Coming of Age in Shakespeare and Marlowe. Her recent publications appear in Jeunesse: Young People, Texts, Cultures and The Merry Wives of Windsor: New Critical Essays