Discuss with close reference to the text how far you consider Friar Lawrence to be responsible for the tragic deaths of Romeo and Juliet

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Thomas Walmsley                Page  

Discuss with close reference to the text how far you consider Friar Lawrence to be responsible for the tragic deaths of Romeo and Juliet

How far is Friar Lawrence responsible for Romeo and Juliet’s deaths? With close reference to the text, it can be found that Friar Lawrence is responsible for the tragic deaths, but it can also be argued that, fate would have intervened and Romeo and Juliet would still have ended their lives under tragic circumstances

Friar Lawrence is an Elizabethan monk, he would have been greatly respected by all citizens. Also many people would have thought of him as a wise and honest man, one who was close with God.

The audience when this play was first performed would have believed in superstition, fate, religion and life after death. They would have noticed Irony and superstition a lot better then the majority of people today, and would have found the jokes and irony in the play amusing.

In Act II scene 3 we find out that Friar Lawrence’s favourite hobby is looking at plants and using their properties for helping people, mainly making medicines. He tells the audience about the good and bad sides of plants, and that some can act as medicines but some can contain deadly poison, this should be noticed by the audience. The audience should realise that poison will be a big part of the play.

        “Within the infant rind of this weak flower

        Poison hath residence and medicine power:

        For this, being smelt, with that part cheers each part;

Being tasted, stays all senses with the heart.” Lines 19 - 22

This part means that in this flower there is poison, the smell of the flower is nice, but if you eat the flower it will kill you.

Romeo thinks of Friar Lawrence as his mentor and a fatherly figure. There is a lot of irony in the Friar’s first speech. The audience should start to realise that there’s a tragic end to this play from what is said.

“ The earth that’s nature’s mother is her tomb;

What is her burying grave, that is her womb;” Lines 5 - 6

This should give the audience a feeling of foreboding. Also the audience would have sensed the irony. When Romeo tells Friar Lawrence about his loss of interest in Rosaline, and his new love, Juliet the daughter of rich Capulet the enemy of Romeo’s family, Friar Lawrence can not believe how fickle Romeo is, and tells Romeo that young men must love with their eyes rather then their hearts!

“Holy Saint Francis! What a change is here!

Is Rosaline, that thou didst love so dear,

So soon forsaken? Young men’s love then lies
Not truly in their hearts but in their eyes.” Lines 61 – 64

Friar Lawrence tells Romeo that he can not forget Rosaline so soon after all the moaning he has done. Friar Lawrence tells Romeo that.

“Women may fall when there’s no strength in men.” Line 76

Romeo argues with Friar Lawrence saying that he always told him off for loving Rosaline! But Friar Lawrence corrects him and tells him that he told him off for his moaning and doting, not for his love. Romeo tells Friar Lawrence that he didn’t love Rosaline, but loves Juliet. Before Friar Lawrence says another word to Romeo he changes his mind and agrees to marry him to Juliet.

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“In one respect I’ll thy assistant be.

For this alliance may so happy prove

To turn your households’ rancour to pure love.”

Friar Lawrence does this so that he can persuade the two quarrelsome families into making peace, marrying their children as a symbol of how the families are the same.

Friar Lawrence tells Romeo not to rush things and go slower

“Wisely and slow; they stumble that run fast.”

This is a good piece of irony as Friar Lawrence tells Romeo off for having sudden haste. Which is very ironic as Friar Lawrence stumbles ...

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