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How far is Friar Lawrence responsible for the ultimate deaths of Romeo and Juliet?

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Introduction

Charlotte Hobson How far is Friar Lawrence responsible for the ultimate deaths of Romeo and Juliet? Friar Lawrence is a Roman-Catholic priest who is a respected and trusted member of Italian society. People go to him to confess their sins. The Friar is important to Romeo as his father confessor. This means that Romeo feels he can trust the Friar and consequently confides in him. The Friar is told more than he should know. As a result of this role, the Friar carries out many actions central to the progress of the play. This means that he can be blamed for the tragedy to a certain extent. It is possible to argue that all the Friars actions were carried out with good intentions. To answer the question fully we need to look at these actions he carried out and their motives and explanations. However we must also consider that other characters bared responsibility and contributed to the deaths. It should also be considered that the tragic ending of the play may be due to the forces of fate than the actions of any particular character. Friar Lawrence plays an important role in this play. He represents the authority of the Church. His advice is respected by everyone in the play and it is to him that Romeo and Juliet go when they have a problem. ...read more.

Middle

The Friar appears to be genuinely fond of the young couple, and wishes for them to perceive his actions in a positive light. When he realises that Romeo has not received the important letter telling him of Juliet's staged death, he tries to rectify the situation. One of his main concerns is that Juliet may be angry with him: "She will beshrew me much that Romeo hath had no notice of these accidents". The Friar's actions could be looked upon negatively. It appears he has a sense of superiority as he takes on the burden of the young couples secret. The Friar's advice to Romeo about his love for Juliet was to take things slowly. This suggests that he had his doubts and wanted to be cautious. However, the Friar does not insist that they wait and rather seems to hurry them into the marriage, saying: "Come, couple with me, and we will make short work". The Friar could be criticised for this as the couple had met only the previous night. Friar Lawrence looks for the respect and regard of others, and is afraid of his shortcomings being exposed in the event of failure, this shows when he leaves Juliet in the tomb in case of being caught by the guards, he tells her: "the watch is coming. ...read more.

Conclusion

Fate is mentioned throughout the play, in the wedding ceremony, the Friar says: 'These violent delights have violent ends like fire and powder." We are constantly reminded that Romeo and Juliet are going to die and this shows the ironic twist of fate pre-determined by the Friar here. Romeo and Juliet are "star-crossed". Fate is against them. It appears that no matter what they do, the two lovers can not avoid this tragic end. In conclusion, the Friar is responsible for setting in motion the series of actions that eventually lead to the deaths of Romeo and Juliet. Firstly by agreeing to marry them, and then giving Juliet the potion. The Friar's motives for these actions are genuine if misguided. He expresses his feelings of guilt and remorse when he realises that all his plans have gone awry. He asks Balthasar, Romeo's servant to accompany him into the tomb but goes alone when he realises his responsibility, saying: "Stay then; I'll go along. Fear comes upon me. O much I fear some ill unthrifty thing". The Friar is party responsible for the deaths of Romeo and Juliet, as he should have thought about the possible consequences of his actions before going ahead. If anyone is to blame it should be the Capulet and Montague families, as Romeo and Juliet would have been able to marry openly if it was not for the feuding of their families. ...read more.

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