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Five Fascinating Facts about Romeo and Juliet

Fun facts about William Shakespeare’s timeless love story, Romeo and Juliet

1. Shakespeare makes Juliet a thirteen-year-old girl when she goes to be with Romeo. We know that Romeo and Juliet is about young love – the ‘pair of star-cross’d lovers’, who belong to rival families in Verona – but what is odd about Shakespeare’s play is how young he makes Juliet. It’s one of the most curious facts about the character of Juliet. Shakespeare’s source for the play’s story was Arthur Brooke’s The Tragical History of Romeus and Juliet (1562), an English verse translation of an Italian tale. (The Italian story was first printed as ‘Mariotto and Gianozza’ in 1476, and contained many of the plot elements of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.) In Brooke’s poem, Juliet is sixteen – the same as Romeo. But when Shakespeare dramatised the story, he made Juliet several years younger (though Romeo appears to have been kept at around sixteen years of age). As Lady Capulet reveals, Juliet is ‘not [yet] fourteen’. This makes sense in so far as Juliet represents young love, but what makes it unsettling – particularly for modern audiences – is the fact that this makes Juliet a girl of thirteen when she enjoys her night of wedded bliss with Romeo. Read the rest of this entry

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