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To what extent do you consider Friar Laurence to be responsible for the tragedy in Romeo and Juliet?

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Introduction

To what extent do you consider Friar Laurence to be responsible for the tragedy in Romeo and Juliet? I consider Friar Laurence to be quite heavily responsible for the tragedy in Romeo and Juliet, however I do not think that he is solely responsible. Other foremost causes which are of equal accountability, are the quarrel between the families and fate. There are numerous other reasons such as other characters, the Nurse, Lord and Lady Capulet, and Romeo and Juliet. Finally, the period of the play including the male dominant society as well as other roles and stereotypical characters should accept some liability. In particular the factor-involving fate can be linked to the function that minor characters play and how this correlates with misinterpretations. Friar Laurence speaks in blank verse (used to heighten severe emotions) and this demonstrates that he is a well-respected man with prestige. Although other key characters use blank verse, it is most concentrated here and this helps to set the Friar apart. This is evident when the Friar speaks in his soliloquy in Act two scene three. This scene creates a sense of foreboding and has a portentous effect. Within this soliloquy is a significant amount of symbolism as it accentuates the extreme opposites with references to virtue and vice amongst others. Further symbolism is evident when the Friar places flowers and weeds in the same basket, which is symbolic of the Montague's and Capulet's mixing together. It is made apparent to the audience that he is a herbalist, when he says "O, mickle is the powerful grace that lies in plants, herbs, stones and their true qualities." This means that it is great the medicinal powers there are in plants, herbs, stones and their essences. This is a suggestion of the friar appreciating the herbs and plants and implies that he is conversant with them. In this play, the Friar is a respected figure and Romeo, Juliet and the Nurse visit the Friar to gain his advice. ...read more.

Middle

Since Tybalt's character was stereotypical he may have placed in the play to provoke fights. Tybalt is demonstrated as an aggressor as in Act 1 scene 1, when he makes a strong entrance as he tells Benvolio to turn and face his death. The male dominated society was partly responsible for the tragedy. The patriarchal power structure was inherent in renaissance families. This placed Juliet in a feeble position as she had no authority to refuse marriage, which is why Juliet seeks more devious methods to prevent the arranged marriage. During that time it meant that the law and emphasis on social civility demanded terms of conduct that the blind passion of love could not comply with. Furthermore as a result of the male dominated society, there were giant male egos that influenced their actions as they were keen to portray a certain image, hence if there is a fight or a suggestion of one, they will not back off as they have a reputation to defend. This can be seen in the first scene where the servants from both households are provoking each other. Male chauvinism plays a part also as it is this that drives them to fight as they want to appear the superior man that exudes machismo. Blame cannot really be laid on men who are temperamental as most men will instinctively fight to shield their pride, however since there is a feud that divides the society, this combined with the male dominant makes an explosive and destructive mix. It all augments when Tybalt is angry with Romeo so he seeks to find him to fight, yet Romeo refuses, which is when Mercutio steps in, yet if he had not felt the inclination to step up to fight Tybalt then his death would not have been a consequence and then Romeo would not have been driven to kill Tybalt, which leads to his exile. ...read more.

Conclusion

Furthermore, violence and death are thrilling to an audience and it is suggested that death will follow which helps to keep the audiences engrossed. The speed of events is partly responsible as impetuous decisions are made with little contemplation. Overall, the play appears to be very hurried as characters rush into marriage and then Romeo is banished as a consequence of impulsive actions. Juliet considers suicide as Capulet is so keen for her to marry County Paris and seeing that Juliet is so desperate to do anything but marry Paris she takes a potion to give her a death-like guise. The haste continues when Romeo obtains a poison which is in an act of suicide as he thinks that Juliet is dead. Finally when Juliet discovers that Romeo is in fact dead she stabs herself. These events illustrate the haste of the play. Time is always apparent in the play as we see the lovers before they meet. We are witnesses to their first meeting, we follow them through their declaration of love and also up until the point where Romeo kills Tybalt-then all is lost. The impression is that the lovers are fighting against time as the wedding to County Paris is moved forward and the Friar hatches a scheme in despondency to save them. There is a certain amount of inevitably as the events happen at an increased rate, problems occur and mistakes are made, as the vital message that Friar John is carrying fails to reach Romeo in time. Following this, when Juliet rouses herself from her state of unconsciousness she is just too late to save Romeo, so she takes her own life. There is a concentration of the time and the action as the play is only set over five days, and this all adds to the impact. The lovers are prompted in reaction to numerous events and this adds to the feeling that they are caught up in a chain of circumstances that they cannot control. There is a pace and urgency that is evident, which makes the drama so compelling. ...read more.

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