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To what extent do you believe that Friar Lawrence is responsible for the tragic deaths of Romeo and Juliet?

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Introduction

To what extent do you believe that Friar Lawrence is responsible for the tragic deaths of Romeo and Juliet? William Shakespeare's play, Romeo and Juliet, is one of the greatest love stories of all time. The play is a story of forbidden love that is resolved in two tragic deaths. Romeo and Juliet come from feuding families, but they defy the feud and fall in love. Many events take place during the five short days that they share their love. All of the events surround characters from both the Montague and Capulet families. For example, during the play, a fight, which ends in Romeo's banishment, takes place because of Tybalt's hot temper, Romeo's extreme passion, and Mercutio's quick wits. The forces of love and hate are also very evident throughout the play. In the end, Romeo and Juliet's love finds a tragic way to overcome the hate between their families. Romeo, from the Montague family, is an immature and impulsive young man who imagines that he is in love with Rosaline. His talk is full of artificial expressions of emotion and he seems to be wallowing in self-pity. When he meets Juliet and falls in love with her, this has a dramatic effect on his character. He becomes more mature and even attempts to make peace with Tybalt, Juliet's argumentative and aggressive cousin. His parents are very much active in the feud and do not converse or look after their son. Benvolio, Romeo's best friend is an intense and insightful young man. ...read more.

Middle

If she had not made that decision, the Montagues and Capulets may have continued their feud and Juliet would not have been content without her love. It is very obvious that Shakespeare meant for Juliet to be the protagonist of the play. The play is meant to tell a love story, but it is also meant to show Juliet mature from a girl to a woman. The plan goes wrong when the message to Romeo in Mantua is not delivered due to a plague. So the Friar scurries to the Capulets' vault to be with the waking Juliet. He tries in vain to persuade Juliet to leave the dead Romeo and escape with him. When she refuses, he deserts her. Eventually he comes forward to reveal the truth. We might have expected that some dire punishment will follow but the Prince excuses him with, "We still have known thee for a holy man". It is a somewhat soft reprimand nonetheless Friar Lawrence's true sentence is that he will have to live with the cost of his own mistakes for ever. The power of fate is introduced in the Prologue of Romeo and Juliet when it states that the two are "death-mark'd." From that point on, fate deals the lovers its worst and ends as predicted, with death. Fate is the force that predetermines events, but since the story takes place in a Christian context, fate can also be interpreted as Providence, or God. In Romeo and Juliet, fate is the biggest force opposing Romeo and Juliet. ...read more.

Conclusion

Friar Lawrence largely contributed to the deaths of Romeo and Juliet by marrying them despite their ages, giving Juliet the poison and by not thinking things through clearly. Instead he always tried to find a "quick-fix" solution. However, he has a kind disposition, and honestly tries to help Romeo and Juliet in whatever way he can. And, to give him his due, he did confess his sins, and offer to sacrifice his life. This confession, added to the tragic deaths of the young lovers, ceased the age-old fight between the Capulets and the Montagues. Like Romeo and Juliet, we must all separate from our families, as the children we used to be growing into the adults we must become and build a new family. In this play, however, the sin of breaking away proves fatal because of the deadly context into which these young lovers are placed. Overwhelmed by feud, plague, dysfunctional relatives, and a sense of isolation, Romeo and Juliet become "poor sacrifices" to the antagonism of their elders through their vain attempt to transcend family for love and empathy for self-identity. The loss of childhood becomes real rather than symbolic, and the cost of leaving the family emphasizes the shortness and fragility of young love just as it confirms the price of revenge in a world where forgiveness has never been a virtue. The deaths of Romeo and Juliet achieve, therefore, a tragic beauty which allows us to see the brilliance of their devotion to each other set within the dark hatred of the family feud. Ironically, in separating from their families, they lose their lives at the exact moment that they find themselves. ...read more.

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