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What is your opinion of Friar Lawrence in Romeo and Juliet? What does he contribute to the play? What do you feel are the most important aspects of his role in the play?

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Introduction

Friar Lawrence is often seen as a character who tragically meddles with events he cannot control. What is your opinion of Friar Lawrence in Romeo and Juliet? What does he contribute to the play? What do you feel are the most important aspects of his role in the play? In Romeo and Juliet old Friar Lawrence acts as confidant to the young Romeo as does the Nurse to Juliet. But he is not only a confidant to the misguided youth. Friar Lawrence has a duty to maintain towards all the people of Verona. He is their priest and their role model. But underneath his ceremonial garments he is a man, someone with opinions, desires and fears. I believe that this is what William Shakespeare tried to convey to the audience when he wrote 'Romeo and Juliet', that a priest who has a strong and important hold over a community will have to fight to prevent a conflict of interests. In the city of Verona there is a political feud between two families, the Montagues, Romeo's Family and the Capulets, Juliet's family. This becomes very important later in the play as it drives the Friar to go to the extremes that he does. As the audience we have to believe that the Friar would not like to see anger and hatred in his community and he may have seen his position in the church as a way to stop what is happening. ...read more.

Middle

or what his opinions are concerning the Capulets and the Montagues, therefor acting as a social manager. However, because he knows what he is doing is underhand he marries them in secret. Romeo later kills Juliet's cousin Tybalt in a fit of anger, and the Prince banishes him from Verona. Romeo visits his confidant to despair over what has happened, wanting to end his life if he cannot see Juliet again. The Friar calms young Romeo with an 'ideal solution' that is made up there and then. He tells Romeo to go to Juliet's chambers and consummate the marriage, 'As was decreed' Really he means 'as I planned'. The friar does not want his stratagem to fall apart. This is a rather strange thing for the Friar to sanction the consummation of a marriage that clearly could only struggle to have a future. I believe that this was an attempt by the Friar to solve one of his own problems. The Friar married the couple to stop the feuding between the Capulets and the Montagues. If the families found out that their children were married they would want to try and annul it, but the Friar knows that if the marriage has been consummated that would not be possible. Never the less, the Friar does not deter Paris, even though this is the chance to relieve Juliet of the burden of lies that is beginning to weigh her down. ...read more.

Conclusion

Friar Lawrence gets Juliet to drink a potion, which puts her in a coma like state, falsifying her death. He gave no thought to Juliet's parents who would have to bury their daughter on the day that they had planned for her to be wed. Then he tries to resurrect her, and plans to send her away to a convent, which would leave her parents with more heartache and grief finding her tomb empty. The Friar's plan was mindless deceit. In his attempt to play God, Friar Lawrence is condemned to fail by the simple arrogance of his act. Considering the last few acts we are in our simple right to condemn him for his actions. It is important to realise that William Shakespeare's 'Romeo and Juliet' derives from a poem by Arthur Brooke, 'The Tragical History of Romeus and Juliet' which was a deliberately Anti-Catholic text, and Shakespeare would have been dramatising those same Anti-Catholic attitudes in producing this play. The Friar in 'Romeo and Juliet' welcomes Romeo with 'Bendicite!' which is a Latin word. Friar Lawrence is a Catholic, the immediate effect of using this word to a Protestant audience would have been that of alienation. Our opinions are swayed throughout the whole play; a formal, educated Priest becomes a rash, stumbling cleric. I see the characterisation as an attack on the Catholic Church, Shakespeare's own views on the Catholic religion. But I also believe it has an important moral; those who try to play God, no matter what religion they believe, will stumble. Word Number: 1,400 ...read more.

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