Romeo and Juliet: What’s in a name?

Romeo and Juliet are madly in love after meeting for just a short time and are willing to give up many valuable things in their life to be with each other, which shows how blinding falling in love can be. The two discuss what is in a name, and agree that what “we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet” (2:2:46-7). Romeo is a Montague, Juliet is a Capulet, and their two families have been enemies for an extensive time. If Romeo or Juliet gave up their last name, they would still be the same person, just as a rose would be just as pretty and sweet if it had a different name.

The name of an individual does not change who they are as a person. After hearing Juliet speak about her troubles and Romeo’s family name on her balcony, Romeo says, “Call me but love, and I’ll be new baptized” (2:2:54). Romeo is willing to give up his family to be with Juliet, which is surprising considering he just met her and he has been with his family for years. In addition, Romeo completely forgot about Rosaline, whom he professed his love to right up until he met Juliet. Romeo would “deny thy father and refuse thy name” (2:2:36), showing that he would abandon his whole life just to marry Juliet, which is a very bold action. Romeo’s surname not only signifies his relationship with his parents and family, but also their family’s reputation, their inheritance, and personal identities. Romeo and Juliet would both be giving up more than just a name if they decided to marry each other. This decision could affect and impact their future forever.

However, both Romeo and Juliet do not understand the significance of their names as Juliet says, “What’s Montague? It is nor hand, nor foot, nor arm, nor face, nor any other part belonging to man” (2:2:43-5). Juliet is right that a name is not identified with certain body parts and who one is as a person. However, giving up one’s surname does impact one’s future and relationship with their family, which could, in turn, end up affecting their life together.

-Abby V.

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