The Stress Of Teenage Decision Making

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Teenagers are often depicted as being rash and impetuous in their decision making. In contrast, adults are often shown to be smarter in their decision making. The ability to be able to make meaningful decisions will not happen until someone enters adulthood. Before adulthood though, behaviors such as recklessness and rebellion are prominent in teenagers as they start to grow independent from their parents. Teenagers are born with an innate curiosity to discover their surroundings and develop who they are. In William Shakespeare’s famous tragedy, Romeo and Juliet, it showcases two star crossed lovers whose families multi-generational feud interferes with their relationship.

In studies, teenagers have been shown to be more reckless than adults. The part of the brain that responds to decisions like this rewards people when they do fun and exciting decisions, and often than not, these decisions are risky. In the article, “Teenagers Inside the Teenage Brain” by Marty Wolner, the mind and behavior of teenagers is observed to be impulsive and illogical at times. In the article, it states “As it turns out, brain development during the teenage years is radically more active and dynamic than previously thought. During these years, the part of the brain that requires a person to make responsible decisions, understand consequences, and process problem-solving is under heavy construction, and much of the time dysfunctional.” As a person emerges from childhood, and the boundaries set by parents.The reason teenagers by this age become reckless is because they see these acts of recklessness as fun, and their brain sees it as rewarding, releasing chemicals that make a person feel happy. In Romeo and Juliet, this reckless behavior is exhibited in Romeo and Juliet as they battle the forces of love and hate. In the play, it says, “What satisfaction canst thou have tonight? Th’ exchange of thy love’s faithful vow for mine. I gave thee mine before thou didst request it/ And yet I would it were to give again.”

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( 2.2.126-129). Romeo and Juliet have only just met each other, and in these short hours, they develop feelings for each other. This leads them to marry the next day, this hastened marriage was the result of both Romeo and Juliet having troubled upbringings and their impulsive behavior.

A person’s behavior is ingrained in them as they are growing up, in Romeo and Juliet we can see Juliet, who is the only living child under the Capulets, and is grown isolated from normal social interaction as her father’s way of protecting her. When Romeo and Juliet get married, Juliet is unsure about it. Eventually, she tells Romeo about how she feels. “Although I joy in thee, I have no joy of this contract tonight. It is too rash, too unadvised, too sudden, Too like the lightning, which doth cease to be” (2.2.126-129). The statement is ironic because while confessing that she believes the relationship is going too fast, she also hastily wants to get married.

The upbringing of a child molds their personality and their core values. In the case of Romeo, we see him brought up on nobility and peace. When Romeo is heartbroken by Rosaline’s rejection, he talks to Benvolio about it. He states, “Why, such is love’s transgression. Griefs of mine own lie heavy in my breast, Which thou wilt propagate, to have it pressed. With more of thine. This love that thou hast shown. Doth add more grief to too much of mine own.” (1.1.176-180). In a time of sorrow for Romeo, he finds solace in Benvolio, and eventually entices him to go to the Capulet party. From there he meets Juliet and immediately falls in love. The feeling is mutual for them, and Romeo branches off from his friends after the party to meet up with Juliet. For Romeo, Juliet wasn’t just someone he could love, but someone he could confide in after being heartbroken by Rosaline.

In the article that discusses peer pressure, ”Encourage Positive Peer Pressure” it implies that certain topics that highlight and explain the fairly positive motives of Romeo’s friends. As mentioned in the article, “Positive peer pressure is when someone’s peers influence them to do something positive or growth building. For example, peers who are committed to doing well in school or at sports can influence others to be more goal orientated. Similarly, peers who are kind, loyal or supportive influence others to be the same.” For Romeo and his friends, this was to find love for him. Alongside how a parent is raised, what helps us understand how someone is the way they are, is by who they interact with as children. Like minded people will often associate with each other.

The difference in decision making in teenagers and adults is stark in comparison. Throughout a person's childhood, limitations are set by parents that will define who a person will be. As one grows, these limitations begin to be ignored. The decision making that the characters of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet face are comparable to studies in real life. In Romeo and Juliet the two characters are placed into unpleasant scenarios where massive occurrences happen at a fast pace to the point that the built-up stress contributes to their mindset. They make decisions that are not well thought through and are more or less completely illogical. Marrying the night they met is what the majority of people consider foolish and almost child-like. Multiple factors that include both being logically underdeveloped, Juliet’s obscure need for companionship, and the subtle peer pressure that Romeo’s friends all contributed to the result of their poorly formulated decision making. The two main decisions that the couple make can both be described as extremely impulsive and last minute. Romeo’s attempt to prove himself to his friends by attending the Capulet masque uninvited, allowing his vulnerable self to fall in “love” with Juliet and being caught off guard by Tybalt, eventually leading to their duel and the death of his dear friend Mercutio, as well as his banishment to Mantua as a result of his other impulsive act of killing Tybalt for slaying Mercutio. And lastly, the irresponsible, last-minute plan of a secret marriage on the night the couple met that led to a miserable path of Juliet being put in a position where she has to endure a separate marriage arranged by her parents. Her extreme hesitance to marry someone she feels no love for led her to be pressured to fake her death to reunite with her true love. The overall buildup of these events eventually comes to a colossal tangle of conflict on Juliet’s grave where Paris and Romeo arouse battle, ending with Romeo killing a second man, and Juliet committing suicide at the sight of her beloved, dead right beside her. Most people at the age of adolescence and above have experienced a will to diverge from the norm. Whether it is small, or extremely life-changing, the decisions of these young adults would easily fall under the borderline between truly dumb and irresponsible. Poorly thought-through decisions could impose drastic changes in one’s life whether it is negative or not. Met by the sudden impact of puberty—the burst of hormonal changes, the longing to satisfy teenage lust, and the need to make a change in their lives—the tragic story of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet gives the characters extremely stereotyped traits, but traits that beautifully express the themes of love, hate, and the decisions made between two young lovers that grew to believe that they must not be together. 

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