By: Caroline Dudzinski ‘26
Shakespeare is known to create divisions between students, but it was my entirely different
opinion that made me Public Enemy #1 of English class.
The reason? I despise everyone’s favorite male lead… and favor the (somewhat) older
man competing with the male lead for the female lead’s love.
My confession? I hate Romeo. I hate him so much. I feel unrivaled anger and disgust at
But why, you ask?
Romeo is a rash 16-year-old boy who pines after Rosaline Capulet despite her obvious
disdain for him. But his love for Rosaline is apparently fleeting as he soon falls in love with
Juliet, forgetting completely about Rosaline. Already he is an intrusive, unfaithful player of a
He impulsively marries Juliet just hours after they meet, then kills Tybalt, is banished,
and is the eventual cause of Juliet’s death, as well as his own.
All I can think is, What an idiot.
He’s melodramatic, headstrong yet easily influenced, and is a poor excuse for a male
lead. If Romeo never bothered the Capulet women, calamity could have been avoided. Maybe
Juliet would still be alive. In short, I hate him.
And who comes across as a far better suitor?
The answer made me the enemy of freshman year English.
The prominent argument against Count Paris is that he’s twice Juliet’s age, and I admit
that would mean big trouble in today’s world. But from the research I’ve done, a story from 1303
in Northern Italy about star-crossed lovers much like Romeo and Juliet could have been the
inspiration for the play, so we are not talking about 2023–we are talking about the 14th to 15th
century time period when things were very different.
Paris is 25 years old, and Juliet’s 13 going on 14–back then the “the typical age of
marriage for Italian men was about 25,” and aristocratic “arranged marriages were common
during the teenage years.” 1 By today’s standards? Horrifying. 100%. It means I would be married
already. But this is a story in medieval Europe, not modern America.
Since it is medieval Europe, Juliet’s one path is to marry young and enter motherhood.
No exceptions. So she might as well marry a good man, and Paris is the best. Not only is he
handsome (“He’s a man of wax”), he is an educated and wealthy prominent nobleman. Most of
all, he has a genuine care for Juliet, at every instance treating her with utmost respect in an era
where women had few rights and were relegated to the background.
So, for hot-headed Romeo, Juliet gave up a life of comfort and stability with a decent
man who loves her? Even in today’s world, hot-headed boys and men who are not good partners
can be construed as appealing in media and pop culture. I’m glad teen girls have options in their
lives and are not forced to marry at such a young age, but I also wish that in the time that has
elapsed since Romeo & Juliet was written, our world had learned to value good people and good
So there’s my two cents, Count Paris is better than Romeo in every way. And I would
argue that Romeo is the villain of the story named after him.