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How important are the characters of the nurse and the friar in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet?

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Introduction

GCSE English Literature Amy Bailey 10MW How important are the characters of the nurse and the friar in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet? William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet is one of the greatest love stories ever written also contravening as one of the greatest tragedies of all time. It was adapted from the poem 'the tragicall history of Romeus and Juliet' written by Arthur Brooke (published in 1562). Shakespeare developed this, making many changes to the story, improving the plot dramatically. Shakespeare adapted minor characters from the poem elaborated them giving major and influential parts in the play. Therefore giving the audience more background and character relation. Shakespeare's play is not just a melodramatic adaptation of Arthur Brooke's poem, although the play does contain important details from the original outline of the plot. By adapting lesser characters from the poem, Shakespeare makes the play more dramatic. This development of the minor characters into vital roles is very important to his classic play. He develops it successfully and so enhances the enjoyment of the play, hence the play is still being adapted into films and studied to this day. Shakespeare wrote Romeo and Juliet to be performed; therefore, the empathy of the performance is much more dramatic than Arthur Brooke's original poem. ...read more.

Middle

The Nurse advises Juliet throughout the play about the love affair Juliet is having with Romeo. By doing this, the nurse is developing the plot, helping Romeo and Juliet be together even though it is depraved. She brings Romeo and Juliet together by reassuring Juliet that the situation will work out. "Then hie you hence to Friar Lawrence's cell, There stays a husband to make you a wife. Now comes the wanton blood up in your cheeks, They'll be in scarlet straight at any news." (Act 2 scene 5:70) The Friar also helps Romeo and Juliet wed, he talks to Romeo about Juliet. The friar performs the wedding ceremony. He interferes with the destiny of Romeo and Juliet, what would they have done if the friar had not wed them? ".. You shall not stay alone, Till holy church incorporate two to one." (Act 2, Scene 6) The friar only ever wants to help Romeo and Juliet. He may do something out of the ordinary if he thinks the outcome will help someone he cares for. "In one respect I'll they assistant be; for this alliance may so happy prove, to turn your households rancour pure love." (Act 2, scene 3) The friar says that the only reason he will marry Romeo and Juliet is that he hopes that the marriage will end the hostilities between the two houses. ...read more.

Conclusion

"O Juliet I already know thy grief..." (Act 4, scene 1) No matter what Friar Lawrence tried to accomplish, the audience knew it was never meant to be as fate always managed to intercede. The play seems to be anchored around the fact that fate causes the occurrence which seem to be insignificant at the time but turn out to be pungent events. The main problem to each of these events that the friar did not consider the wider implications of his plan, meaning he did not think about "What if the letter did not reach Romeo?" and so it led to misfortune. The nurse is not like Lady Capulet she comforts Juliet at times of her need. Lady Capulet is adamant that Juliet marry Paris whilst the Nurse only advises it until she realises that they are both deeply in love and she could not get in the way of this. Lady Capulet however only cares about her feud with the Montagues and when she finds out about Juliet's love for Romeo and the killing of Tybalt she seeks revenge. The nurse acts more like a mother figure to Juliet than Lady Capulet as well as a friend, she is both understanding and stubborn. Lady Capulet and the Nurse both have contrasting attitudes towards love. "Will you speak well of him that killed your cousin?" (Act 3 scene 2:96) ...read more.

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