Hook: Imagine having true love at 12-15 years old only to die four days later, this is the plot to the famous Romeo and Juliet. However, there are more factors that played a role in their deaths than most know.
Background Information: This play was written in the 16th Century when Europe was very unsanitary, and had plague. Many people hardly made contact with each other because it was so bad, but in the play many intimate interactions take place; many characters lost their lives.
Thesis: The deaths in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet are products biological and environmental factors; all of these factors are scientifically proven and helped health get better.
Topic Sentence: The diseases on Romeo and Juliet’s time, like the Black Plague, improved health because it only left the people with the strongest immune systems alive. Which great for future generations who will inherit this.
Evidence: Shakespeare’s London, “Royals would display the heads of traitors on spikes as a dreadful warning to all who walked the bridge.”
Details: This was a major environmental hazard because this occurred on the London Bridge, which was the only bridge that connected the two parts of London at the time. Since it was a main source of transportation, this could cause a wave of sickness to everyone who had to pass those corpses during the daily commute.
Evidence: Shakespeare’s London also states, “People would dump their household waste in the streets.”
Details: The issue here was that many people got sick from the smell of sewage, and the creatures that were in it. The famous “fleas on rats” were involved in the illness caused by this; the rats would go to the sewage near the people and the fleas would eventually go to the people and give them diseases such as plague.
Ending Sentence: All the environmental problems like sewage and corpses that influenced diseases, namely plague, also had a big contribution to helping immune systems. These problems were so severe it killed millions; leaving the people who had the best immune systems, this trait could be passed to future generations.
Topic Sentence: The amount of human interactions in Romeo and Juliet also would be a big contributor to the state of health. The amount of touching and dead bodies lying around would help spread a lot of diseases; it also left the healthiest people alive to make kids stronger.
Details: Many of Romeo and Juliet’s interactions were either holding hands, or kissing. During their time, bubonic plague was very prominent, these actions could easily have gotten each other, and their loved one’s sick as well.
Evidence: In Romeo and Juliet, “(taking Juliet’s hand) If I profane with my unworthiest hand This holy shrine, the gentle sin is this…”
Details: This was one of the more intimate scenes with Romeo and Juliet, and it incorporates them kissing after just meeting. In this time, it was a lot less common to touch very often because of the abundance of diseases.
Evidence: The play Romeo and Juliet also wrote, “Then move not, while my prayer’s effect I take. (Kisses her)” Then after three lines of dialogue, “Give me my sin again. (They kiss again).”
Details: The interactions between these two characters are alarming for many reasons. A major one is that because of the amount of illnesses going around, many people tried to avoid touch at any cost.
Ending Sentence: The numerous human interactions that occurred easily could have spread diseases that were very prominent at the time. So if the poison didn’t do, most likely they would have gave each other something.
Topic Sentence: Biology play a huge role in health because it can affect everything from someone’s brain to their body. In Romeo and Juliet, their teenage brains play a big part in their decision making. Biology passed down from older generations can alter people’s bodies and make them healthier.
Evidence: One Reason Teens Respond Differently…states, “The teens mostly use the amygdala, a small almond shaped region the guides instinctual or “gut” reactions, while the adults relied on the frontal cortex, which governs reason and planned.”
Details: In the play, Romeo and Juliet, the teen are very impulsive, starting fights every few hours. Not to mention, Romo ang Juliet getting married after only knowing each other for a few hours.
Details: They also had intimate interactions, like kissing, while sickness like plague were all around them. These types of interactions were also rarely used because of these illnesses.
Evidence: Developing brain connections make teenagers impatient and impulsive states, “The scientists were looking specifically at impatience and if heightened impatience among teenagers is because of disregard for future outcomes or from oversensitivity to immediate rewards.”
Details: A perfect example is Juliet marrying Romeo instead of Paris, a literally prince, because she already liked Romeo and married him. Plus, everyone told her how lucky she would be and how much easier her life would be if she married him.
Details: However, Juliet stayed with Romeo instead of marrying Paris. Which lead her being in some of the most insanitary conditions and eventually dying.
Ending Sentence: Their teenage brains had an issue with decision making because of the lack of full development, led to the poor choices that ended up killing them.
Topic Sentence: Gender plays another part in people’s health, especially in the time of Romeo and Juliet, because men would be more at risk of getting sick than women. The duties males had to do put them in a position where getting sick was more probable than women. Women often live longer because of these occurrences.
Details: In the play of Romeo and Juliet, Juliet was at home throughout the entire play, besides the death scenes and going to the friar. However, Romeo was everywhere besides his home; he never went home throughout the entire play.
Evidence: The play states, “I went somewhere where I learned that being disobedient to my father us a sin. Holy Father Lawrence instructed me to fall on my knees and beg for forgiveness.”
Details: This quote is very important because she is talking about the only time she went outside of her house in the entire play. (Hughes) Most women in 16th century England were found doing domestic duties in the home, while their husbands worked on other duties outside the home.
Evidence: Shakespeare also wrote, “Where the devil should this Romeo be? Came he not home tonight?” “Not to his father’s. I spoke with his man.”
Details: This quote was important, as it showed a common theme, a male everywhere but in his home. As previously stated, most men were outside of their homes doing their jobs. Romeo is no different, throughout the entire play that quote was the only mention of Romeo and his house.
Details: Another worthy mention is that Romeo’s character could be a personification of death, which is alluded to many times. Including his kiss scene with Juliet which could be associated with the kiss of death.
Evidence: In the play, deaths are associated with everyone around Romeo, even himself. The list includes the following: Mercutio- “The gentleman Mercutio…was killed while defending me from Tybalt’s slander…”, Tybalt- “They fight. tybalt falls and dies.”, Paris- “(he falls) Oh, I’ve been killed!”, Juliet- “(she stabs herself with romeo’s dagger and dies)”, and finally Romeo- “romeo drinks the poison. romeo dies.”
Details: These examples of death sum up that everyone who was associated with Romeo died. He could also be referred to as a plague to others, like the one that occurred at the same time Shakespeare wrote the play.
Ending Sentence: The gender/societal roles caused the men to be more prone to getting sicknesses than women. The lack of small illnesses to build up their immune systems made them vulnerable to the more dangerous ones.
Topic Sentence: Age has a giant impact on health for many reasons, life expectancy is one of the most notable. Especially in Romeo and Juliet’s time, where the common lifespan was at a max of thirty-five years. Since the diseases killed off the ones with the weak immune systems, the ones who alive made life spans longer due to their better health.
Evidence: Shakespeare’s London stated, “When people did bathe, they’d share one bathtub of water in order from oldest (with the male head of household going first) to the youngest.”
Details: The problem given is that the youngest could be a baby. Younger children, like babies, have an immune system that is less developed than one compared to an adult male. By this time the water is so dirty a person wouldn’t get any benefit from bathing in it; leading to the saying “Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.” However, there is a positive takeaway, if the baby was able to survive in this unsanitary condition, the baby’s immune system was very strong.
Evidence: Dennis Thompson from WebMD states, “Cleanliness may be next to godliness, but a home that’s too clean can leave a newborn child vulnerable to allergies and asthma later in life, a new study reports.”
Details: This could explain why kids from very clean homes often have allergies, or get sick easily. It could also prove that it is better for children to be outside with dirt, rather than inside with ventilation.
Ending Sentence: Since the body develops with age, these younger characters are more likely to die from the diseases during this time because isn’t strong enough to fight them.
Topic Sentence: Parenting can also have a major impact on health. When parents allow children to be around dirty places, their immune systems receive huge benefits.
Evidence: Romeo and Juliet states, “Don’t say anything. Don’t reply. Don’t talk back to me.”
Details: Juliet’s parents resemble a parenting style used by many parents who would be considered strict parents. These types of parents are usually criticized for trying to control their child’s life.
Details: This type of parenting style is referred to as an authoritarian parenting. These parents
Evidence:, 4 Types of Parenting Styles states, “They also don’t allow kids to get involved in problem-solving challenges or obstacles. Instead, they make the rules and enforce the consequences with little regard for a child’s opinion.”
Details: This parenting style couldn’t be more like Juliet’s parents. They definitely believe a child should be seen and not heard. In the play, Juliet never even talks to them unless they initiate the conversation.
Details: This is why Juliet had no problem following Romeo’s lead, which eventually lead to her death.
Evidence: Amy Morin also wrote, “Uninvolved parents basically expect children to raise themselves. They usually don’t devote much time or energy into meeting children’s basic needs.”
Details: Romeo received this lack of parenting which is easily spotted because his parent doesn’t even show up until his death scene in the very last part of the play.
Details: Romeo also received much, if not all, of his advice from his friends while they were out-and-about, never showing Romeo in his home. He was outdoors with all the sicknesses all around him without a care in the world.
Ending Sentence: The over-bearing parenting and the lack of parenting the kids receive led to their death because of the lack of proper guidance to help them make appropriate decisions.
Topic Sentence: Many individuals could argue that if Romeo and Juliet’s time was as clean as current day, they would be much healthier; unfortunately, science would disagree. Many studies found that the excessive cleaning made people more vulnerable.
Details: Scientists have discovered that people who clean excessively are the reason more allergies have reappeared, and why some common illnesses are having a deadlier effect on people.
Evidence: “We evolved over millions of years to have our immune systems under constant assault. Now they have nothing to do.”
Details: Ever since people have started becoming more health conscious, cleaning has been taken to extreme levels. This causes more allergies to appear and sicknesses to be stronger because people aren’t getting the contact needed to be able to withstand it. Plus, the more cleaning that is done the stronger the germs come back, and the harder they are to get rid of.
Evidence: “Over the past century declining family size, improvements in household amenities, and higher standards of personal cleanliness have reduced the opportunity for cross infection in young families,” the paper continued.”
Details: People who have siblings are less likely to sick because their sibling(s) are constantly introducing new germs, which helps strengthen an immune system. When more children are present cleaning is harder to complete, so the likelihood of presenting more sicknesses to each other are even better.
Evidence: Dennis Thompson from WebMD also states, “It turned out to be completely opposite – the more of those three allergens you were exposed to, the less likely you were to go to have wheezing or allergy.”
Details: Exposure to allergens had a huge significance to immune health. When someone has exposure to mild sicknesses, their body can learn from it and defend against it the next time it appears. When people are less exposed to these allergens, people are more likely to get allergies, or take longer to recover from common illnesses such as the flu.
Ending Sentence: The excessive cleaning done nowadays have many people’s bodies almost as weak as the plague days. These individuals are causing little illnesses to be just as deadly as plague.
Restated Thesis: The state of health got better because of the epidemic at the time of the play; Romeo and Juliet show all these instances and what it leads to.
Recap: In conclusion, many biological factors including: age, gender, and biology itself can be linked to why some characters made the decisions they did. Which is what led to their own deaths and the deaths of others. Environmental factors including the: outdoors, indoors, and parenting styles, accounted for the deaths in this play.
Ending Hook: Each and every character played a part in the deaths of the star-crossed lovers, but who played the biggest role is based in perception.
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