Both Romeo and Juliet obtain much growth throughout the play Romeo
and Juliet. There are many different kinds of growth, whether physical,
emotional etc. Yet Juliet obtains the most growth that is significant to
the play. The play is about many new experiences occurring to a family
that is used to old, die-hard violence, therefore experiential growth is
most important. Juliet is the central protagonist of the play because she
obtains more experiential growth than Romeo does.
Juliet obtains the most growth mentally because she is a thirteen-
year-old girl who has not yet escaped the protective wall of her family,
unlike Romeo, who is already a free-minded roamer in a sense. For example,
Lady Capulet says, “Well, think of marriage now. Younger than you, here in
Verona, ladies of esteem, are already made mothers.” (I iii 75-77) This is
showing that the mother is forcing the issue of marriage upon Juliet when
she is only thirteen. Also, Capulet says, “Doth she not give us thanks?
Is she not proud?” (III iiiii 147-148) This shows that Juliet has grown
mentally, or has started making decisions on her own, since Capulet is
angry with her for refusing Paris.
Juliet also gains more growth than Romeo does physically. Most males
in that time have much uncontrolled sexual activity. An example is when
Sampson says, “I will…thrust his maids to the wall.” Romeo, being male
and a few years above puberty, has experience already with sexual activity,
(not sex, just activity) Juliet is completely new at the entire concept,
just having reached puberty. Also, Romeo has had physical feelings for
other girls before. For example, he says, “Show me a mistress that has
passing fare;” (I i 243) Here he has already fallen in love with Rosalyn
and is soon to find Juliet. Juliet had not experienced physical attraction
that we know of before Romeo.
Juliet has also gained more spiritual growth than Romeo has spiritual
having to do with religion, good or bad. Neither Romeo nor Juliet seemed
to be devoutly religious in the beginning, yet the closer to the end of the
play, the more spiritual Juliet becomes. For example, Juliet says “What
devil art thou that dost torment me thus? This torture should be roared in
dismal hell.” (III ii 49-50) Now this may not be very good spiritually,
yet Juliet has gained a little non-holy spunk after meeting Romeo. Also,
when the Friar says, “Come. I’ll dispose of thee among a sisterhood of
holy nuns. Stay not to question for the watch is coming.” (V iii 161-163)
Juliet responds negatively, refusing to become a nun. This is a spiritual
decision made by Juliet.
While both Romeo and Juliet gain much growth, Juliet gains more
experiential growth, which is more relative to the play. Since a central
protagonist is the character that gains the most growth, and Juliet gains
the most experiential growth, Juliet is the protagonist of the play.