Romeo and Juliet Archetype

Learn all about the romantic archetype, including definition, characteristics, examples and how it relates to the Lover archetype.

What is the Romeo and Juliet Archetype?

The Romeo and Juliet archetype is one of lovers who feel they are destined to be together and begin their romance with the euphoria of new love before being dragged down a path of tragedy largely by problems external to themselves.

At the start of their relationship, the archetypal Romeo and Juliet feel they have been brought together by fate having been put on this earth to be with each other.

Romeo and Juliet Archetype Characteristics & Traits

  • Their love gives them a sense of power, immortality and vibrance which they have never before experience – they are on cloud nine and believe nothing can bring them down.
  • They believe that their love story is one of the great love stories of history – very few people have loved as they do before and they are destined to be recognised as one of romance’s greatest stories.
  • However, the initial triumph and euphoria start to wane for the archetypal Romeo and Juliet as they realise that their love does not make them immune to the problems of the world and that the path towards them being together is filled with trouble.
  • They come to find that, contrary to their initial beliefs, their love is not so powerful that it will allow them to overcome any odds and be together no matter what opposition or problems they encounter.
  • In the end the problems which they face, be it from their family or society more broadly, prove too much for them to overcome and they are doomed to spend the rest of their lives apart or even to die as a result of their love.

Romeo and Juliet Archetype Examples

Other than the obvious example of Romeo and Juliet themselves, another example of the Romeo and Juliet archetype in modern culture is that of Tony and Maria in the film West Side Story.

A modernised version of Shakespeare’s play, the film tells the story of two warring gangs in New York, and the doomed romance of two of the gang members.

Further Reading

Further reading on the Romeo and Juliet archetype includes:

  • Romeo and Juliet – by William Shakespeare
  • Understanding Romeo and Juliet: A Student Casebook to Issues, Sources, and Historical Documents – by Alan Hager
  • Romeo and Juliet: A Guide to the Play – by Jay L. Halio
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