The 23rd of April marks the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death. So, I thought it was only fitting to talk a little about one of his most famous tragedies.
Romeo and Juliet, is the infamous tragic love story of star-crossed lovers. Almost everyone knows the story: Romeo Montague and Juliet Capulet fall in love in the midst of a grueling feud between their families. They fight to be together, and after a lot of bloodshed and plan to run away together. Ultimately, bad timing and miscommunication lead to a catastrophic chain of events that ends the story with the lovers dead.
There’s been a lot of arguments and debates about whether or not Romeo and Juliet can be categorized as a love story. After all, Romeo was pining after Rosaline when suddenly he sees Juliet, all thoughts of Rosaline disappear and he moves on to his next conquest. And Juliet is just a thirteen year old girl, how can a child who is barely a teenager possibly comprehend the enormity of such love? But then again, if both Romeo and Juliet did not truly love each other and were only lusting after each other, their self preservation should have stopped at least one of them from ending their life.
These arguments were made by many people for many years, but in the end there’s one fact no one can deny: William Shakespeare wrote this as a tragedy, and if there’s anything to be said about Romeo and Juliet it is tragic.
But believe it or not, I didn’t dedicate this post to elaborate on the age old dispute.
I believe that there’s always something to be learned from even remotely good writing. So, there’s no doubt that there’s something more to be taken away from this story than just doomed love.
What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet; so Romeo would, were he not Romeo call’d.
One of the most known quotes by Shakespeare, it’s mostly used to reference things which are more than their name. Moreover, in many other stories and fairy-tales it’s been said that a person’s name holds a certain power over them. But does an object’s name, a person’s name really possess no influence on the thing itself?
For example, when we think of the word star, we always think of something iridescent, shining and beautiful. The word in itself is beautiful and pleasant to say. But what if the stars in the sky weren’t called stars what if they were called yolks for example?
It’s been proven that if a word contains some of the more “abrasive” letters, people will most likely hate it. So if stars were yolks, would we still use the word yolk-an “ugly word”, to describe something so beautiful? Or would we find the word yolk beautiful because it represents the diamonds in the sky with which all of mankind is enchanted?
Personally, I think that in the case of objects, people would associate the word with the thing itself. In other words, I think that if in another version of reality stars were called yolks, there would be superyolks instead of superstars and people would be yolkstruck instead of starstruck.
In the case of actual human beings, while we’d all like to think that the same logic should apply, that it does apply and that people aren’t judged based on their names, it does happen.
While we do often associate a loved ones name with positive feelings, and the names of people we hate with negative feelings and vice versa. For example, if you dislike a certain name, but grow to love someone with that name, you will ultimately grow to love the name itself. But the opposite is true, is you like a name but dislike someone with that name you’ll grow to hate it. The same goes if you do like a name and meet someone for the first time, it’s likely that you’ll develop positive emotions towards that person. But the concept of a person’s name runs much deeper than that.
People aren’t like objects, we are defined by more than our names. Other people associate us with our language, our religion, how we look and so on. But isn’t that just the same as judging someone based on their name?
Being generalized is something everybody does without really thinking about it most of the time, but each person is different. It’s easy to assume that if two people share the same religion or country they have the same beliefs and opinions, but people are much more complex than that. Assuming that two Asians share the same religion based on their ethnicity is like assuming that two blondes like ice-cream because of their shared hair color. There’s no correlation between the two, Asia is the largest continent people are bound to be different, just like there’s a large number of blondes in the world who have differing tastes in desserts.
We should all be aware of this, always remember that people are different and complex and intricate, always refrain from assuming based on what’s on the outside. People are more than their names and backgrounds. In fact, the most important thing about a person is how they treat other people.
So, what’s in a name? Nothing and everything.