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role and importance of Friar Lawrence

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Introduction

What is the role and importance of Friar Lawrence which lead to the tragedy of Romeo and Juliet? Romeo and Juliet are emblems of true love that have been used over the years as icons for other lovers who found themselves torn in half like them, many of whom faced a similar ill-fated end. The ingredients of a tragedy are all sewn into this play, which is unusual for Shakespeare as most of his work in the early years was comedies and historical plays. The heroes in this story portray excess courage, arrogance and ambition. They took life changing decisions despite their tender age. The affects of the play on the audience is cleansing as they feel pity and terror. In my opinion the reason for the lovers' downfall lies outside the actions of any characters - and ultimately in the workings of fate which is referred to several times throughout the play. Romeo and Juliet is considered a tragedy by many as it fits in with the requirements set out by Aristotle. Shakespeare used a variet of sources for this drama. The story of Romeo and Julliet is taken from the poem a 'Tragical history of Romeus and Juliet.' We are going to study at first hand the role played by Friar Lawrence which contributed to the lover's death. We will begin by looking at what his ideal role in the communtiy would have been. We will also look at his character, and the motives behind the actions he took. However before we analyse the Friar we must study the social backround of the play. Italy at that time was regarded as a passionate and wealthy place; hence an ideal setting for this tragedy. Love is as you would expect the play's central and most significant theme. Shakespeare helps to depict love in many different forms; it is aggressive, euphoric, intense, and without doubt overcomes all other ethics and morals. ...read more.

Middle

The Friar should have listened to his own wise words before giving the potion to Juliet. He should not have played the role of God. As a man of God should he not have subdued to the will of God and not tried to take fate into his own hands? People of God usually made logical thoroughly thought out decisions, this Friar is very distant from these expectations and many may have labelled him as being too 'politically ambitious' and a 'fate meddler'. The Friar himself acknowledges the power of God at the end of the play, "A greater power than we can contradict hath thwarted our intents," so what possessed him to take such actions? Another deplorable aspect of the Friar's behaviour is his response when he finds Juliet in the tomb, instead of remaining with her and preventing her death; he flees at the sound of people coming. This shows his fear of accepting responsibility and his selfishness. This use of nature for unnatural purposes is also ironic as he ultimately, acts distinctly human by fleeing the tomb and abandoning Juliet. In addition to this on numerous occasions the Friar seems to be aware that this marriage would only lead to chaos and catastrophe. When addressing Romeo about his previous love (Rosaline), he states that both women where not the right lovers for Romeo "Not in a grave, To lay one in, another out it have," suggesting that his second choice of lover is just as bad as the first. Also when marrying Romeo and Juliet he asks "smile the heavens" in order that "sorrow chide us not." This feeling of uneasiness is further reinforced when claiming that "violent delights have violent ends" using an extreme metaphor to describe Romeos passion "like fire and powder" hence a very explosive obsession. Many would argue that if the Friar had such a bad feeling about the whole thing, why he did he go ahead with it? ...read more.

Conclusion

Though in most situations the lovers uphold the traditions of Christianity (they wait to marry before consummating their love), their love is so potent that they begin to think of each other in blasphemous terms. For example, Juliet calls Romeo "The God of my idolatry," elevating Romeo to level of God .The Friar starts to sense their uncontrolled passion for each other when he says that he will not leave them alone "Till holy church incorporate two in one," this could be another trigger that caused the Friar to hasten and agree to the marriage. Juliet should have obeyed her father unquestioningly when informed about her wedding to Paris, but she does not because she is already married. These were big sins especially in a catholic country, so the reader is left in a dilemma. Romeo and Juliet were hopeful that their families would be united by their love. They thought that their love was so incredible it would overcome all boundaries, which is what makes this play such a memorable one. This play is out of the ordinary because many themes are incorporated into it, love, comedy, society at war and tragedy. If they hadn't treated love as the be-all and end-all they wouldn't have died. However other people believe that Romeo and Juliet were so in love they had to die, it was "written in the stars" and it was fate that bought them together but also kept them apart. Their tragic ending is a direct consequence of the other main theme in the play: a society at war with itself that makes their love at once so tragic and so beautiful. It is love against the odds. Love is used as a central theme in all four of Shakespeare's tradgies Romeo and Juliet ,Troilus and Cressida Othello and Anthony and Cleopatra in a way these plays describe love in four different phases from the strong passion of the youngest lovers to the final search for love by Anthony and Cleopatra lovers who are again torn between two different worlds. ...read more.

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