There are often misconceptions between love and mere infatuation, especially in young children. They may think they feel love, strong and binding, but in the end it is only an infatuation, one that could make them reckless. Such is the case of Romeo and Juliet. Within days of their meeting, they decided they fell in love, and wanted to get married. They went to great lengths to stay together after Romeo’s banishment with an ill-thought out plan, resulting in major miscommunication and their untimely deaths.
In order to properly understand the difference between love and infatuation, one must first understand their meanings. According to Dictionary.com, the definition of love is a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person. Meanwhile, according to the same website, infatuation is foolish or all-absorbing passion. It is also said not to last. Based on these definitions, we can see that both can easily be confused for the other, especially infatuation confused with love. True love isn’t seeing a person for the first time and declaring yourself in love; love is created when two parties get to know each other, spend time around each other, and understand their significant other. Infatuation, however, is a misconception found in many people (particularly those who are young) when they meet another person and fall for their looks, not looking underneath and declaring to themselves and others that they have finally ‘found love’.
Firstly, within their first meeting, they already believed they had found love with each other, going as far as to kiss, as shown by Romeo’s quote “Sin from thy lips? O trespass sweetly urged! / Give me my sin again.” (I.v.21). This is impulsive behavior, mere minutes after their first meeting and conversation, which consisted only of Romeo complimenting Juliet’s looks and Juliet doing the same to Romeo. It shows a superficial love of beauty from both of them, when they still don’t know each other past their first names. ‘Love at first sight’, as romantic as it seems, is not true, and it’s the same for this scene. They fell for each other’s looks, and through that they began an infatuation.
They soon meet up again, even after learning of each other’s families and knowing the damage it could bring to both of them. Again, they act rashly, even exchanging vows as soon as the night is over. As said in Juliet’s famous line, “O Romeo, Romeo! Wherefore art thou, Romeo? / Deny thy father and refuse thy name.” (II.ii.26), she wishes for both of them to refuse the burdens their families place upon them, only so they may love each other without the feud between two families. Already, when Romeo jumped the wall to Capulet’s orchard, he could be killed if found (a rash decision), and as they talk they exchange vows and wish for marriage. Keep in mind that this is only days after meeting, too short of a time for infatuation to begin to turn into real love.
Only hours after their actual (secret) marriage days after their conversation, Romeo is banished from Verona for killing Juliet’s kin, Tybalt, in revenge of Mercutio’s death. As far as Juliet knows, Romeo’s killing of Tybalt is not for revenge, but rather to get at the Capulets. However, only minutes after learning the news and crying for Tybalt, she mourns instead for Romeo, stating “Shall I speak ill of him that is my husband?” (III.ii.51). Already, she begins to turn from her family in favor of Romeo, and her mind is distraught over his banishment.
However, soon their actions become rash and impractical, which only results in death and loss. Juliet, distraught, threatens to kill herself to Friar Laurence, saying “Be not so long to speak; I long to die.” (IV.i.69). She even holds a dagger to herself, ready to die if not for Friar Laurence’s interference. There, he tells Juliet of a plan to keep both her and Romeo together, for them to flee the land of Verona together. Juliet accepts, despite her (very real) fears, and takes the potion from Friar Laurence, taking the risk just so she can run off with her new husband.
Every action has consequences, and the multitude of irrational decisions finally take their toll on the newly wed couple. Romeo becomes distraught over Juliet’s ‘death’, drinking poison and dying over her sleeping body. Juliet, waking up to see Romeo dead by suicide, kisses him one last time, licking the poison from his lips, and soon stabs herself and falls atop his body. “Here’s to my love! O true apothecary / Thy drugs are quick. Thus with a kiss I die.” (V.iii.87), “This is thy sheath; there rust, and die.” (V.iii.88). This, possibly, is their most irrational action throughout the entire play, acting entirely on an infatuation that has lasted less than two weeks. That infatuation that never had the chance to actually turn into love resulted in their untimely deaths, at their own hands.
Romeo and Juliet, while a fascinating and timeless tale, is not a story of true love between two teenagers, but an infatuation that caused countless deaths and mistakes. From their first meeting when they supposedly ‘fell in love’, things went downhill, and Romeo’s banishment caused horrible mistakes to be maid, miscommunications especially, resulting in two young teenagers in committing suicide due to their ‘love’ for one another.