Romeo and Juliet’s relationship is not “true love”, rather, it is a mimicry known as “puppy love” or infatuation, where teenagers see a stereotype playing out, and then they repeat it. This happens because of Juliet’s young age, and Romeo’s unfaithfulness. Juliet is a child. Even though society considering teenagers adults used to be a social norm, as Paris says “younger than [Juliet] are happy mothers made” (1.2. 13), Juliet is young, as “she hath not seen the change of fourteen years” (1.2. 9). Juliet is still thirteen, still a child. While others consider Juliet of an eligible age for marrying, her brain will only finish developing when she is in her mid-twenties; this is not influenced by any cultural norm. True love requires dedication, thoughtfulness, and commitment, which all require a mature brain. Juliet falling in love and marrying before her brain fully develops will “mar” her, as others expect her to commit her life to someone when she’s barely lived it. In addition, Romeo’s affection for Juliet is infatuation, not love, as Juliet is not the first woman Romeo has “loved”. In a single day, Romeo has gone from passionately attracted, apparently in “love” to Rosalind to being in this so-called love with Juliet. True love means that you only have eyes for one person, and that is far from Romeo’s views on these women. The only difference between Juliet and Rosaline? Juliet is prettier, and will return his affection. Romeo is incapable of knowing whether or not he is truly in love with Juliet, as attraction and infatuation greatly confuse and twist his previous forays into the field of romance. Friar Laurence remarks at this discrepancy, saying “Young men’s love then lies / Not truly in their hearts but in their eyes” (2.3. 66-67). Friar Laurence is saying that Romeo’s love is not true, he is not loving with his heart, but rather with his eyes, showing Romeo’s willingness to declare attraction to a woman “love”. Romeo will stop loving Juliet as soon as he finds a more beautiful woman, just as he stops loving Rosaline when he first meets Juliet.
Kulich’s editorial arguing that Romeo and Juliet are not children is ineffective as they neglect to address the real issue: whether or not Romeo and Juliet are children engaging in puppy love. Kulich dances around the issue, stating that yes, cultural norms were different then, and even up to World War II, fourteen-year-olds were considered adults. The issue with this argument is that cultural norms cannot and will not change science. Juliet may have been considered a woman in her prime of life in Renaissance era Verona. That doesn’t change the fact that she is thirteen. A mere child. Her brain will not develop until her mid twenties, leaving her unprepared to make decisions. Marrying off a child will not change this fact, and mothers are five times more likely to die during childbirth if they are under 15, compared to women in their twenties, and children of child brides are 60% more likely to die than children with mothers over the age of 19. It’s no wonder Juliet is the only child that her father had that survived into adulthood. There is a time and place for moral relativism, and it’s not in science. Kulich implies that if we force children to mature earlier, instead of keeping them “sequestered for longer and longer and keeping them away from real life”. This notion is false, as biologically, Juliet is not prepared to be a bride. She is not prepared to grow up and have children. It may be a “historical fact” that woman that were fourteen years old, or even younger, were treated as woman and married off at an early age, but it is a biological fact that she is not ready, physically or mentally, to truly love someone, get married, and have children.