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How Much is The Friar to Blame for Romeo's and Juliet's tragic deaths?

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To what extent did Shakespeare make us believe that the Friar was to blame for the tragic events that happened in Romeo and Juliet? In Shakespeare's play, Romeo and Juliet, Friar Laurence plays a major role; in the impossible marriage of Romeo and Juliet, Juliet's "death" plan as well as in Romeo's death. Without the Friar many crucial and tragic events would not have happened in Romeo and Juliet, but how much does Shakespeare convince us that the Friar is to blame for the tragic ending, and that he is the sole influence that drives Romeo and Juliet to end their lives so terribly? The Friar is established as an honoured man, who sells herbs and medicines to the people of Verona and is an ancient pharmacist, who produces potions for both causes of good and evil. He makes his first appearance in the play at the beginning of Act Two, Scene 3, during which Shakespeare gives us a background to his thoughts and personality through his short lecture on herbal drugs that can kill and cure. "O, mickle is the powerful grace that lies/ In plants, herbs, stones, and their true qualities. / For naught so vile that on earth doth live / But to the earth some special good doth give; / Nor aught so good but, strained from that fair use, / Revolts from true birth, stumbling on abuse." and "Wisely, and slow. They stumble that run fast." give the impression that he is a wise and intelligent man, and from his speech you get the impression that he is good-hearted and has good intentions. ...read more.


Their undying love seems to get in the way of their rational thinking, and the phrase 'blinded by love' corresponds exclusively to their situation. The Friar recognises that Romeo and Juliet are far too ambitious in their desires to marry so soon and warns them that they should prepare themselves for the dreadful consequences and terrible situations that will arise. Again, the Friar's sophisticated and intelligent language contrasts with Romeo and Juliet's romantic sonnets, giving you the impression that the Friar is shrewd enough to resolve all the problems; he will marry the lovers, solve issues with Juliet's father and Tybalt and in the end the feud between the Capulets and the Montagues will be over. Accordingly, it seems that the Friar knows all along that "These violent delights have violent ends" (Act 2, Scene 6). Shakespeare constantly uses the Friar to foreshadow future events in the play, possibly so that we are lead to believe that he one way or another knows the couples' fate and the plot is in his hands. In addition Shakespeare shows him as an 'I told you so' character in the plot, someone that foretells the ending to a tragic tale and someone we can refer back to for evidence that the ending was expected to happen all along. Could this be leading us to thinking that because he knows their fate, he is to blame for his prediction turning out to be true? Surely we cannot blame him simply because he guessed accurately, but automatically the audience would turn to the person who is mostly in control of the plotline and knows the fate of the two lovers outwardly before he even knows they are in love. ...read more.


This sentence almost sums up how the Friar understands that his plan was "Miscarried" by his fault and he is ready for his "old life / Be sacrificed, some hour before his time, / Unto the rigour of severest law." This could be Shakespeare's way of showing us that the Friar does show remorse to a degree for his unlawful activities, and he is somewhat ashamed of his actions that lead to such devastation. Although the tragedy of Romeo and Juliet's deaths is upsetting, the family feud between the Capulets and the Montagues is well and truly over, only because of the Friar's plan going wrong. This therefore means that one of the Friar's motives for the marriage plan (to make alliance between the two families) does in fact turn out well and according to plan, and some good does come out of his disastrous scheme. To conclude, the Friar is a very interesting character to analyse in Shakespeare's play of Romeo and Juliet as there is no true answer as to whether or not Shakespeare was trying to show that he is to blame for the tragedy. He is guilty to some extent, for it is he who is mostly in control of the plotline throughout and could have done differently to adjust the ending, but do we actually want the ending to change? Romeo and Juliet die in each others' arms for their extreme love for one and other and the feud between their two families is finally over, despite there being a few deaths along the way. Perhaps the Friar's plan is for the greater good after all, as a happy ending would have defeated the purpose of Shakespeare's tragedy. ?? ?? ?? ?? English Shakespeare Essay Arta Ajeti 10B.2 Page 1 ...read more.

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