Youth and Privacy in Romeo and Juliet
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.
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