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“That Young People Are Impetuous And Rash”

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Are young people more likely to behave in an impetuous manner? Does age necessarily affect your behaviour and decisions in a negative way? Colin Cobuild English Language Dictionary defines impetuous as - “Someone who is impetuous is likely to act quickly and suddenly without thinking or being careful.” I believe that while the play Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare clearly portrays its youthful characters as being quick to act without thought or caution, this is not the case for all young people. Furthermore, it is my belief that all people, regardless of age, are capable of acting in an impulsive and hasty manner.

It is evident from the play Romeo and Juliet that the two youthful protagonists are portrayed as being somewhat rash, as a direct effect of their tender age. One of the main lessons that the reader gains from the play is that impetuous behaviour will ultimately lead to tragic untimely death, or at the very least, an unhappy ending. However, is it possible that Shakespeare chose to write the adolescent characters in this manner as a result of the typical “young and foolish” stereotype? Could he have possibly viewed this particular stereotype as appropriate to convey the desired message to his audience?

The famous play, set in 16th Century Verona is about a young couple, Romeo and Juliet, from feuding families, The Montague’s and Capulet’s who fall deeply in love or perhaps infatuation within a very short period of time. As a result of their unfortunate familial circumstances, they secretly marry, and ultimately kill themselves for their love. Although the prologue suggests that the reason the “star-crossed” lovers meet an untimely death is due to “ill-fate”, the more pragmatic reader will see that their deaths could have been avoided should they have acted in a more responsible and cautious fashion.

Was it wise for them to decide upon marriage when Juliet was only 14, and Romeo barely older? How could marriage have even been on the agenda when their family’s rivalry was in such a terrible state? Friar Laurence stated it best in his altogether appropriate advice to Romeo, - “Wisely and slow. They stumble that run fast.” (ii. iii. 97)

The iconic 1980’s film, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, directed by John Hughes clearly supports the statement “That young people are impetuous and rash”. The main protagonist, Ferris, fakes his own illness in order to enjoy a day of irresponsible fun in the city with his friends. During the course of the day, Ferris and his friends act in a rash and unthinking manner, using an expensive car without permission, and making up several elaborate lies to fool their parents and teachers. Despite their irresponsible behaviour, the viewer is encouraged to view them in a somewhat sympathetic and endearing light. The film ends unrealistically, with their misdemeanors going unpunished. Obviously, Romeo and Juliet’s hasty actions result in far more tragic consequence.

Evidently, young people make bad decisions, and are often impetuous and rash. However, age alone does not exempt one from making bad decisions or behaving in an impulsive manner. The main reason younger people are more commonly seen as being rash is because in general, younger people have not yet developed a strong sense of responsibility that is more commonly matured in older, more experienced people. Nevertheless, circumstances often mean that some young people are grounded in a very strong sense of responsibility, which reflect in their actions,



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