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Romeo and Juliet

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Introduction

Discuss the role and significance of Friar Lawrence in Romeo and Juliet "These violent delights have violent ends & in their triumph die, like fire and powder which as they kiss consume" Romeo and Juliet is a romantic tragedy, written by William Shakespeare between 1594 - 1596, and published in 1597, although it originated from earlier texts. It focuses on two "star-crossed" lovers who encounter a severe tragedy because of their passionate love. The drama talks about love and hate, fate and consequences. The story is set in Verona in Italy, and takes place over a five day span. In Romeo and Juliet, the two main characters are drawn to one another by a binding and prominent love; however an unending feud between their two families which is referred to as an "ancient grudge" in the prologue, forces them to keep this love a secret which leads to the tragic events which later take place. The couple are married by Friar Lawrence, who plays a very important role in the relationship of Romeo and Juliet. Throughout the play he takes up the role of a holy man, a father figure, a plan maker, a guide, a messenger, and at times tempts fate as far as to portray the image that he is playing the role of a God. How significant was his role in the fate of the two impetuous lovers though? We first meet Friar Lawrence in Act 2 Scene 3, as an Apothecary describing different weeds and herbs in the form of a soliloquy which emphasizes the importance of language as it allows Friar Lawrence to convey his thoughts to the audience. ...read more.

Middle

The quote refers to fate, and how such a love will inevitably not end well. The Friar uses a metaphor by referring to Romeo and Juliet as "fire" and "powder". When fire is thrown into powder, an explosion is caused. This meant that when Romeo and Juliet came together, they would burn and cause the death of one another. This quote leads the audience to wonder whether the Friar had any suspicions about what would happen and it creates a sense of foreboding. If he did, why didn't he stop them? In this scene (Act 2 Scene 6), Friar Lawrence also refers to Juliet as "daughter" which could either show religious context or could mean that because of the Friar's close relationship with Romeo, now that Juliet was Romeo's wife she acquired that status. Tybalt, Juliet's cousin, is killed on Monday by Romeo. Tybalt was a fiery character in contrast to Romeo who was always calm and quiet, and this shows how Shakespeare sets a balance in the characters. Romeo goes to Friar Lawrence, who acts as a messenger and tells him "I bring thee tidings of the prince's doom" and tells Romeo he has been banished from Verona. The Friar comforts and reassures him, stops him from killing himself which progresses the play, and then makes plans for him. This scene is significant as it shows Romeo as impulsive and impatient, even offering to "stab himself". He is unable to think for himself, hence relying on the Friar. ...read more.

Conclusion

Heaven and yourself / Had part in this fair maid, now heaven hath all / and all the better is it for the maid" The Friar uses word play over here. He is trying to say that the remedy for this disaster is not to be found in these outcries, and his words are ironic as "heaven" could mean that Juliet has gone to Romeo and attained her heaven by being with him. The Friar acts like a hypocrite here as he comforts the Capulets even though he knows that Juliet is not really dead. He also continues to make plans. The Friar is giving directions and everyone listens to him. This shows his status and emphasizes on how respected he was in Verona. It also makes the audience contemplate on whether or not the Friar deserves this since he repeatedly abuses this respect and power. In Act 5 Scene 2 Friar John tells Friar Lawrence that he has not delivered the message to Romeo. On the other hand, Balthasar has told Romeo that Juliet is dead and Romeo buys poison to kill himself. Friar Lawrence says he will "write again to Mantua" and "keep her at my cell till Romeo come" but is this enough? I do not think there is much the Friar could do, but he did not go to enough extremes to prevent the tragedy. It is fate that all of the Friar's plans begin to go wrong. "The letter was not nice but full of charge / of dear important and the neglecting it / may do much danger. Friar John, go hence / get me an iron crow and bring it straight / unto my cell". ...read more.

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