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Romeo and Juliet

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Introduction

Was Friar Lawrence entirely to blame for the downfall of Romeo and Juliet? William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet is a tragic story of the demise of two young lovers from the city of Verona. The two come from feuding families, Romeo is a Montague, Juliet is a Capulet. The families have been told to end all fighting by Escalus, Prince of Verona. Different people and events are instrumental in the confusion that leads to their deaths. The indications are that Friar Lawrence's involvement is a contributory factor to the lovers' downfall. His rhetoric and actions steer Romeo and Juliet to commit suicide. He's a Franciscan monk and is seen to be a father figure to Romeo. Both Romeo and Juliet trust the Friar immensely. Friar Lawrence gives the two advice and support where they felt they had nowhere else to turn. Despite his best intentions the interventions of Friar Lawrence cannot prevent the ultimate outcome. The Friar's strengths include his willingness to listen, abilities to trust and his loyalty to Romeo and Juliet. His weaknesses of naivety, sincere optimism and unworldliness are equally as important. He has obviously been a great observer of life but lacks experience. He utilises his knowledge but doesn't consider the human reactions and the further implications this may have. Friar Lawrence first appears in Act 2 Scene 3. It's the night after the Capulet's party, where Romeo and Juliet meet, Romeo has been up all night and goes to visit the Friar for advice and assistance. This shows that Romeo has great trust and respect for Friar Lawrence, which asserts pressure on the Friar to assist Romeo. Romeo has high expectations of the Friar. Perhaps it could be said that Romeo is too close to the Friar. In the Friar's soliloquy he prophesises what actually happens in the play. This prophecy is conveyed through a description of the properties of plants. ...read more.

Middle

The negative words include: hate, usurer, slay, sham'st, skilless. Suddenly the Friar changes tack and becomes positive about Romeo. He begins by stating three reasons why Romeo should be happy. The first being "Thy Juliet is alive, for whose dear sake thou wast but lately dead: there art thou happy." The Friar is saying that Romeo should be happy, as Juliet is alive. The second is that Romeo should be happy as he is alive "Tybalt would kill thee, but thou slewest Tybalt: there art thou happy. The third reason is that Romeo is going to be exiled not executed "The law that threatened death becomes thy friend and turns it to exile: there art thou happy." William Shakespeare used repetition of the phrase "there art thou happy" this was possibly to emphasise two things: I) that the Friar is being positive II) that Romeo should be happy/positive. The Friar shouts at Romeo for complaining about his fortune and love and says that those that do this die miserably. Friar Lawrence then suggests his plan to Romeo. Romeo should spend the night with Juliet to prevent their marriage being annulled. Then early the next morning Romeo must leave for Mantua. Romeo must wait in Mantua until a time suits when he can return, "To blaze your marriage, reconcile your friends, beg pardon of the prince". Romeo leaves the Friar's cell and goes to Juliet. This is the first time that Romeo has followed the advice of the Friar. It took much of the Friar's wise ability to persuade Romeo. In this scene positive points for the Friar include: I) Romeo came to Friar Lawrence for consolation and council- proving that Romeo has immense trust in Friar Lawrence. II) The Friar manages to make Romeo see sense. III) Friar Lawrence gives Romeo excellent advice and manages eventually to make Romeo listen to it. IV) He shows sympathy to Romeo. ...read more.

Conclusion

It must have been obvious to him that Juliet would do something stupid. He could have saved her life. In conclusion Friar Lawrence cannot be blamed entirely for the downfall of Romeo and Juliet. His contribution causes adverse events to occur, as I've highlighted in this analysis. In my opinion he should have: delayed the marriage between Romeo and Juliet, it was too soon, and he didn't consider the consequences first, been honest with the families and Paris, and not gone ahead with the plan. Juliet could have run away to be with Romeo. If the plan did go ahead he was obliged to ensure the letter was received by Romeo and been with Juliet when she awoke. If at least some of these points were taken I'm sure that the outcome would have been more positive. Personally I do not think that Juliet's nurse was to blame. Others may argue that she should have prevented Juliet from marrying Romeo. I do not think Juliet would have listened to her nurse, as she is naive. I believe the two families are partly to blame, the Capulets more so. They should never have started feuding. Lord and Lady Capulet should not have instigated Juliet's marriage with Paris without consulting Juliet first. After Juliet said no to the marriage they should have listened. Prince Escalus also shames blame, as he should have done more to halt the feud. Most of all Romeo and Juliet are to blame. They let their immaturity and impetuosity control them. With maturity they would probably have realised that a relationship together would require the family feuds to end, they would have thought through their decisions. If Romeo had not relied on Friar Lawrence then he would have been more aware of his parents' views so would not have attempted a relationship with a Capulet. Likewise Juliet confides with her Nurse rather than her family. It was essential for Romeo and Juliet to act responsibly to prevent the tragedy from occurring. William Shakespeare creates this tragedy by interweaving the plot with the mistakes of individuals and their failure to be honest. ...read more.

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