Romeo and Juliet kiss and fall in love within seconds of first meeting each other. Do you think their affection is true love or is it just infatuation? Do you agree with the Friar when he says, “Young men’s love then lies not truly in their hearts but in their eyes?” In general, is love at first sight really possible? Can a person truly be in love with someone that they don’t even know?
Another important theme of Romeo and Juliet is fate vs. free will. Romeo consistently blames his problems on “the stars” which represent fate. Were Romeo and Juliet doomed to die or could they have had a different destiny if they had made different choices? Similarly, do poor or unfortunate people of today put too much blame for their situation on fate or “bad luck” when they should take responsibility and work harder to take control of their lives? Or, on the other hand, do you believe that we should be more helpful and understanding of those who are less fortunate and recognize that sometimes people fail because of situations outside of their own control?
Romeo, Juliet, the Nurse, and the Friar all lie, or at least mislead other people, during the course of the play and ultimately their lies all end in disaster. Most people, even honest ones, end up having to bend the truth at one time or another in their lives, but what might happen if everyone thought it was fine to lie all the time? Is it acceptable to tell a “little white lie” or one that doesn’t hurt anyone? Can you think of any times when a person might need to lie and would be morally right for doing so?
Romeo and Juliet both find themselves in the awkward position of having to try to reconcile their loyalty to their families with their love for each other. Who or what should a person be most loyal to? When loyalties conflict should your highest loyalty be to your family, your friends, your nation, God, or just to yourself?
In the Queen Mab speech Mercutio tells Romeo not to follow his dreams. He warns him that “dreamers often lie” and that following dreams leads people down the wrong path. He gives examples of church officials being corrupted by dreams of wealth, of maids getting infections or becoming pregnant by following dreams of love, and of soldiers getting killed when pursuing dreams of battlefield glory. Is Mercutio right? As teenagers of today you are often told to “follow your dreams,” but is there a negative side to that? Is teaching young people to follow their dreams really a good idea, or is it bound to result in disappointment and suffering?
Capulet arranges for Juliet to marry Paris, while Romeo’s parents have already given him near complete freedom—to the point that he never even goes home during the entire course of the play. Few people in today’s world would argue in favor of arranged marriages, but parents often have strict rules over where teenagers can go, who they can date, and what time they should be home. How much control should a parent have over the social life of a teenager? What kinds of restrictions on a teenager’s freedom do you think are reasonable? Do parents sometimes have different rules for teen boys and teen girls?
Lots of characters play a role in the tragedy of Romeo and Juliet. It seems that almost everyone in the play has some hand in the series of events that lead to its tragic ending. But of all the characters in the play, who is the guiltiest? Which one person is the most to blame for the deaths of Romeo and Juliet? Why is that one person guiltier than any of the others?