I am writing an essay on the emergence of teenagers in literature. Do you think Shakespeare created the concept of teenagers? Do you think today’s teenagers are similar or different than the teenagers in Shakespeare’s work?
This is a loaded question! From the standpoint of an adult, I can see how teenagers in Shakespeare’s work are similar to today’s teenagers. In Romeo and Juliet, we are introduced to two wild, irrational kids that make some really poor choices without considering the long-term consequences of their actions. In my experience with modern teenagers, many (but not all) often cannot grasp long-term consequences and firmly believe they know everything. Even I as a teenager thought this way!
Additionally, it has been argued that Romeo and Juliet set the stage for the archetype of the rebellious teen to emerge. In the modern world, adults simply expect teenagers to be rebellious. We expect them to be contrary and difficult. Because Romeo and Juliet are very rebellious in terms of society’s expectations and their parents’ expectations, this play has easily become relevant to the modern day world. Since Shakespeare’s time, many pieces of literature (including films and TV shows) include a “rebellious teen.”
I’m interested to hear the arguments others have about this topic!