Romeo and Juliet: An N=2 study

Written by Sonja Rnic on Wednesday 14th February 2018

Sonja Rnic, Senior Creative Copywriter at LEC, celebrates Valentine's Day by examining lust, love and loss in the world's most famous tragedy 'Romeo and Juliet'. She presents her findings here:


To evaluate the narrative arc of a love affair.

A case study.

Data sources 
1 meta-analysis including 1 Shakespearian dramatic publication.

We compared estimated benefits and risks of romance between 2 small cohorts (1 patient per arm), assessing efficacy of communication, intensity of side-effects and reader engagement. Participants (n=2) were selected for being star-crossed +ve, within the geographical area of fair Verona, with a family history of feuding.

On average, romance effects were more injurious than beneficial for participants (95% confidence interval −0.34 to −0.08, P=0.001). Depending on criteria used, 1 to 2 sub-plots indicated small positive effects. The overall pooled estimate suggested a clinically relevant, significant mortality associated with romance, whereas analyses restricted to large population trials and predicted effects in large populations yielded, overall, more beneficial estimates.

Never was a story of more woe than this of Juliet and her Romeo


We examined two households, comparable in dignity, bearing ancient grudges, where C=Capulet and M=Montague. Procreation within the mutually exclusive C/M dynamic had produced two (2) lovers. Animosity between the houses had reached epidemiological proportions, with the younger males (age approx. 14-20 years) engaging in a systematic program of biting their thumbs at one another. This signalled intentions for violence, in a sequence of thug-thug interactions. The respective patriarchal figures engaged in similarly aggressive tropes, citing swords, blades, neighbour-stained steel and rebellious subjects.

Participant R, where R=Romeo, randomised to house M (male study arm) exhibited baseline characteristics of melancholy, self-diagnosing as being out of favour [with female participant excluded from this study] where he is in love.

Participant J, where J=Juliet, randomised to house C (female study arm) exhibited baseline characteristics of youth, with an estimated age of 14 years minus “a fortnight and odd days”. This was deemed, “A pretty age”. Familial expectations predict a high probability of marriage, and at Lammas moon (an unspecified number of days thence, estimated in the region of 16-18).

We explored the presence and extent of dramatic effects in a meta-analysis of the Shakespeare W (1597) seminary paper on the effects of combining R with J and applying heat, pressure and a balcony. We employed three (3) different approaches: analyses according to sample activity, inspection of subplots, and prediction of effects based on the standard error of not talking to each other properly. We then determined whether sensitivity analyses based on a restriction of meta-analyses to large appropriately powered trials or based on a prediction of romance effects in large trials influenced conclusions of meta-poets, the romantic poets and post-Elizabethan bards.


Selection of participants

In our analysis of the population included in the main study, we identified 20 potential participants representing a cross-section of the C/M households, plus diverse extras, foils and people included solely for the purpose of moving things along. Of this initial cohort, we focused primarily on the eponymous characters, because whilst evidence for “romantic love” as a theme exists (c.f. the long marriages of the Montague patriarch and matriarch, and their Capulet counterparts) it was felt that the titular agents exemplified most clearly and at length the notion of romance and its effects.

Quality assessment

The original 1597 paper is categorised as a Tragedy, according to the classic definition of the term as a sequence of events in which the principal, or study subject, is the chief instrument of his or her own undoing, or severe adverse event. In the present case, both participants contributed to the ultimate adverse event, resulting in mortality (100%). Prevailing literary opinion in the intervening 421 years has classified this and other papers by the same author as works of genius and uncommon insight. We can therefore be confident (with an interval of 421 years, as cited above) that the quality of the raw data and published paper are unassailable. Moreover, the narrative construction and execution fulfil a number of more esoteric criteria, including being a bloody good read, standing the test of time, and appealing to the romantic in all of us.   

Mode of action

Figure 1 (below) depicts a common representation of participant R. NB: Health and safety officials, martial arts instructors, men’s healthcare professionals, manufacturers of men’s tights and armoury specialists have almost unanimously observed that this is an inadequate and ineffective method of scaring your enemies. Unless your enemies are terrified of silly hats.


Participant R, in combination with representatives of household M, was applied to a masquerade party, to which participant J had previously been introduced. An immediate reaction was observed, resulting in 2 of the 2 (100%) participants entering a state of love. It should be noted that each of these participants fell in love with the other. A control experiment where Romeo cops off with the nurse and Juliet runs away with the apothecary was deemed less effective on a number of benchmark principles in the literary/romance canon.

Once a state of love was established, a sequence of realisations then ensued. 1) Participant R discovers that participant J is a member of household C, and therefore his life is his foe’s debt. 2) A prominent member of household C made visual contact with participant R. This acted as a catalyst for a series of threats, culminating in the crypto-guests being ejected from the party.

A pivotal hypothesis was then proposed by participant R, in the orchard of his enemy. Hypothesis A: The light what breaks through yonder window is the east, and Juliet is the sun. At this juncture, participant J was then heard to query why participant R should be recorded in the nomenclature as the cited participant R. Participant J then postulated that a rose (genus: rosoideae) re-classified to any other nomenclature would nonetheless emit the same standard of olfactory sweetness.

The second phase of the study was then initiated. This involved increasing the level of drama, through a series of interventions from:

  • a monk, who creates the legal compound R1J1
  • a nurse
  • a rival, or control for arm 1 (male): Paris
  • two established characters identified as Tybalt and Mercutio, each of sub-normal intelligence and above-average propensity to die by the sword
  • the prince who is, at timepoint Day 3, at maximum tolerance capacity for this shit

The result of Phase II was the effectual banishment of participant R. Phase III was then initiated. A common observation of phase III is that adverse events became prolific, and were compounded by sub-optimal communication. A proposed trajectory of events was administered concomitantly with a conflicting yet similar proposed trajectory in which poison features heavily.

The variability across analyses of the events can be accounted for by the merging of poor intra-C communication as well as the impoverished quality of R-C communication. Heterogeneity between accounts is minimal at this stage.

A summarisation of the sequelae of the initiation of phase III is shown below in figure 2:


Study arm

Mode of action



Control (Male)

Arrangement of merger between himself and participant J, via the medium of Friar Laurence

Participant J weeps, past hope, past cure, past help.

Friar Laurence


On condition that participant J hath strength of will to slay herself, a remedy/thing like death may be introduced

Participant J declares a strong preference for leaping off the battlements, lurking where serpents are, being chained with roaring bears or going into a new-made grave, among a number of other unlikely scenarios, over marrying Paris.

Participant J

Female (C)

Takes a distilled liquor for self-administration b.i.b. cras nocte

Participant J falls upon her bed, within the curtains. A grade 4 adverse event is recorded: coma, seeming death.



Grade 4 adverse event is falsely reported to participant R as a grade 5

Participant R reacts explosively, commissioning horses that he may hence to-night to participant J, and a dram of poison that the life-weary taker may fall dead.

Friar John


Cites great pestilence as a bar to the successful discharge of a communication from Friar Laurence (ibid.) with regards to more accurate reporting of the grade 4/5 adverse event experienced by participant J

The friars realise that the excrement, or stool sample (Bristol stool chart 1-7) is imminently to make contact with the fan.

Participant R

Male (M)

Opens the tomb of participant J; observed by Paris.

Violence. Paris is slain.

Participant R

Male (M)

Self-administers apothecary’s drug capiat. bol. p.o. stat.


Participant J

Female (C)

Wakes. Observes, where R=dead that J=sad. Retrieves “happy dagger”.

Self-administers acute incision trauma. Dies.

Figure 2: Adapted from Shakespeare W, “Romeo and Juliet”, The Globe 1597.


In this meta-dramatical study of 1 meta-analysis of 1 Shakespeare play, we found larger estimated benefits of romance than was borne out by the experiences of the participants. However, this was contradicted by more general findings in population studies of greater magnitude, in which a number observations have been made, the balance of which are positive; see figure 3 below. 

Figure 3: Composite data adapted from Merrill 1961, Richie 1983, Tennyson 1849, Lennon & McCartney 1967, noble 1932, Shakespeare 1595

Post-dramatis analysis

The outcomes for the key end users were broadly negative, with a mortality rate of 100%, a woe ratio of 1/1 and a tragedy quotient of 98.6. A number of support participants also experienced serious romance-related play-emergent adverse effects, the most common (>1/10) being death by acute incision trauma. Only one instance was self-administered; the remainder took place in the context of fights. Lads lads lads.

In broader, population-level analysis, however, outcomes were generally positive. This was largely centred around the R-C household dynamic experiencing a statistically significant shift from a state of gang warfare to an agreement of more peaceable relations going forward.

Conclusions and implications

When age <14, marriage is highly likely to be inappropriate. We strongly advise patients afflicted by coronary whimsy to seek proper, qualified medical advice before entering an induced coma. In addition, we urge the government i.e. the prince to consider a policy of de-armament of private citizens in Verona, as them all having swords only seems to leads to bothersome symptoms of bleeding and death. Further investigations are warranted, in order to establish whether love is optically challenged, and the optimal arrangement of heads and heels.

Declaration of interest:
 S. Rnic has acted as an advisory board member of her marriage, and has declared a bias towards love being a pretty good thing all round.

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