The Impulsive Behavior of Teens in Romeo and Juliet

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Updated: Aug 18, 2023
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In the story of Romeo and Juliet, there are many teens, each displaying different behaviors. This can be attributed to the ongoing development of the brain cortex. Some teens don’t consider how their actions affect their surroundings. This isn’t something that they consciously process before acting; they just do. The teenage years are a complicated time for the brain, with cells often seemingly at odds, which has a significant impact on a teenager’s actions and decision-making processes.

Throughout the story, Juliet exhibits impulsive behavior. In Act 2, Scene 2, Juliet bluntly expresses her desire to marry Romeo, saying, “Three words, dear Romeo, and good night indeed. If that thy bent of love be honorable, thy purpose marriage, send me word tomorrow” (2.2.149-155). She develops a strong obsession towards Romeo, which is a lot for a young girl, considering she only just met him. She falls for the idea of being in love with him, yet fails to realize that he is primarily drawn to her beauty – classic impulsive behavior. According to the article, “Teen Brain Under Construction,” studies have shown that sleep deprivation can increase impulsive behavior in children and adolescents. Perhaps Juliet’s lack of sleep from the balcony scene with Romeo contributed to her impulsivity, leading her down a path she wasn’t fully prepared for. Regardless of the cause, Juliet’s impulsive behavior could potentially lead to delinquency. This impulsivity is evident in her actions throughout Act 2.

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In Act 3, Mercutio’s behavior comes off as extremely inappropriate. Throughout the scene, Mercutio repeatedly expresses his desire to engage in a fight. This suggests a tendency towards violence. When confronted by Tybalt, he remarks, “Here is my fiddlestick; here is that shall make you dance” (3.1.49-50), indicating his readiness to start a fight. Though he could have avoided making this comment, his need to display a tough exterior takes precedence. The ongoing construction in the pre-frontal cortex of a teenager’s brain, as discussed in “Teenagers – Inside the Teenage Brain,” can sometimes contribute to such behavior, considering the emotional upheaval caused by hormonal changes. Despite this explanation, it doesn’t excuse inappropriate actions. Mercutio recklessly resorts to violence to solve his problems, and his incorrect perception of his invincibility could have severe consequences.

Tybalt is very overreactive in Act 3, Scene 1. An example of him being immature is when he comes back after killing Mercutio, he says “Thou wretched boy, who didst consort him here, shalt him hence.” (3.1.135) Tybalt had just killed Mercutio, but then he ran away. However, he came back right after to fight Romeo. His actions are explained by the hard work occurring in the brain. In the article, “How Does the Teenage Brain Work?” Kendall Powell finds that “The teenage years turn out to be a complicated time in the brain, with cells fighting it out for survival and the connections between different regions being rewired and upgraded.” With so much work going on in the brain, he may just think about the things he wants to do, like being the tough guy, instead of being the smart one and doing the things that he should do – like not fighting Romeo and killing Mercutio. Tybalt has things going on in his mind that he cannot control. He just does what he wants and does not think twice about it, throughout his parts in Romeo and Juliet.

In conclusion, it is hard for teenagers to really think about their actions during this period of life. Their brain does not allow them to develop good actions they should be taking. Although, the guilt after doing something they know they should not have done is still prevalent.

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The Impulsive Behavior of Teens in Romeo and Juliet. (2023, Feb 06). Retrieved from