Displays of Good Judgment in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet

Displays of Good Judgment in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet

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It has been proposed, concerning the play, Romeo and Juliet, by William Shakespeare, that Romeo behaves rashly while Juliet shows superior judgment. Perhaps Romeo is more confident and quick to make decisions, and Juliet takes her time to think issues through. Both Romeo and Juliet make some good decisions and demonstrate good judgment but, also, they make some mistakes by acting hastily without thinking.

Juliet behaves in a careful and thoughtful manner in different stages of the play. An example of this is when Lady Capulet talks to her about marrying Paris. She declines the offer, "It's an honor that I dream not of" (I.iii.71).  She does not think that she is ready to marry yet, and has not even thought about it. She leaves the option open and tells her mother that she "will look to like" (I.iii.103), meaning she will try and like him but only go as far as her mother wants.  Juliet is not sure if she wants to marry Paris, but she will consider the possibility while she gets to know him.

In other parts of the play Juliet is quite rash and acts thoughtlessly and very quickly. One example of this is when she wakes up in the tomb and finds out that Romeo is dead. She refuses to listen to Friar Lawrence's pleas, to leave the tomb and come with him to a nunnery. Instead she tells him "Go, get thee hence, for I will not away" (V.iii.165). She tries to poison herself but there is no poison left. When she hears the watch coming, she grabs Romeo's dagger and fatally stabs herself. Juliet is so upset she loses her ability to think rationally and tries to poison herself.  Instead of listening to the friar, in desperation, she kills herself with the dagger.

Romeo is careful and considerate in some parts of the play. An example of this is when he tries to convince his friends not to go to the Capulet ball: "'tis no wit to go" (I.iv.51). Another example is when Juliet confesses her desire to marry him; he goes and speaks to Friar Lawrence. He explains the difficult situation to the friar and asks for his help. Romeo acts with forethought on both occasions. When he tells his friends not to go to the Capulet ball, he is thinking ahead about the consequences. He is also cautious about his love for Juliet but when he needs help he is not afraid to ask.

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Romeo, however, also behaves hastily and carelessly on many occasions throughout the play. An example of this is the death of his friend, Mercutio, while Romeo is trying to stop the fight with Tybalt. Romeo says, "fire-eyed fury be my conduct now" (III.i.129), and draws on Tybalt and kills him without thought about the consequence that he could be banished from Verona. Another example of his thoughtless and careless actions is when he hears of Juliet's death and immediately buys poison from an apothecary so he can go to Juliet's tomb and kill himself. Romeo was thoughtless; and when Tybalt made him furious he killed him without thinking about the consequences. It was also irresponsible of him to buy the poison and to kill himself before he knew the full story.

Overall, the judgment of Juliet is not shown to be superior to that of Romeo, nor is it demonstrated that Romeo acts rashly while Juliet does not. Both make considerable mistakes by not thinking before they act; and both make some good decisions. Romeo and Juliet both show good judgment and bad judgment at different times. Perhaps, Juliet was more thoughtful than Romeo but their ability to make good judgments and poor judgments were equal.
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