In II iii Friar Lawrence say's he hope's to turn your households' rancor to pure love. Examine the Friar's role in the development of the play.

Authors Avatar

Katherine BRENCHLEY                                                           12th December 2003

Romeo and Juliet – William Shakespeare

Essay 3

The human psyche is a multi-faceted beast.  Under Friar Lawrence’s ceremonial robes there is just a man.

*  *  *

The main themes in Shakespeare’s play, Romeo and Juliet, are love, death, passion, violence and fate.  When examining Friar Lawrence’s role in the drama, it is fate which seems to be the most common theme.  Friar Lawrence is not only subject to the fate which dominates the play he, in many ways, brings that fate about.  

The drama is set during the Renaissance period.  The protagonists, Romeo and Juliet, are “A pair of star-cross’d lovers” who struggle against fate.  Fate manifests itself in the guise of public and social customs and traditions which either directly or indirectly oppose their love.  Most of Romeo and Juliet’s problems stem from the ongoing ancient feud between their families.  When issues such as: families and family power held by the father; religion; the social importance of honour; law and the need for public order, clashed with each other, Romeo and Juliet needed a friend to guide them through their troubles.  Friar Lawrence was the natural person for them to turn to for help.

The character Friar Lawrence is introduced at the beginning of act II, scene iii.  My first impression was that he is a kind-hearted and level-headed Franciscan priest.  My opinion of his character changes as the play develops and I believe there is more to the Friar than meets the eye.  Consequently it is hard to say that he is solely an honourable man or a self-serving opportunist or a meddling fool.  

In Friar Lawrence’s opening speech, he shares with the audience some of his extensive knowledge of plant-lore.

        “O, mickle is the powerful grace that lies

        In herbs, plants, stones, and their true qualities.”

He also shows that he is aware of the potent uses of these “baleful weeds and precious juiced flowers”.          

“Within the infant rind of this small flower

        Poison hath residence and medicine power:”

He also shows us that he understands good and evil in men.  The Friar explains that even well intentioned gestures sometimes have negative outcomes that are unexpected or unavoidable.  This could be seen as foreshadowing the actions and motivations of Friar Lawrence in relation to Romeo and Juliet’s plight.

Join now!

At the outset of the play, Friar Lawrence stood firm to his religious beliefs and was shocked when he realised that:

 “Romeo hath not been in bed tonight.”

The Friar initially thought that Romeo had spent the night with Rosaline because Romeo claimed that:

        “That last was true; the sweeter rest was mine.”

It was only when Friar Lawrence exclaimed:

        “God pardon sin!  Wast thou with Rosaline?”

that Romeo explained that he was not with Rosaline, but at the Capulet’s party where he met Juliet and they fell in love.  Friar Lawrence was appalled because pre-marital ...

This is a preview of the whole essay