To what extent is Friar Lawrence responsible for the deaths of Romeo and Juliet?

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To what extent is Friar Lawrence responsible for the deaths of Romeo and Juliet?

In the Shakespeare play Romeo and Juliet, the play ends in tragedy with the deaths of ‘a pair of star cross’d lovers’ (Prologue, line 6) along with three other characters beforehand in the core scenes of the play. It is questioned by many, of whom was responsible of the deaths of Romeo and Juliet. Friar Lawrence can be easily blamed as he played a major role in creating and advising the pair, from the beginning of the play, Shakespeare portrays Friar Lawrence as a wise, educated and neutral character who is naturally inclined to see the good in people and situations. Because of these qualities, the audience will be inclined to trust him and his opinions as a character (as Romeo and Juliet obviously do.) However, towards the end of the play, when the play ends in tragedy, this attitude towards the Friar seems to fade away. In order to investigate the motifs of the Friar’s actions, the actions must be thoroughly studied. Thus, here I am to comment upon to what extent the Friar is responsible of the deaths of Romeo and Juliet.

The Friar’s role in the play is parallel that of the Nurse as Juliet’s confidante; Friar Lawrence supports Romeo. He is respected by Romeo and is genuinely fond of him. After the acquaintance made by Romeo and Juliet, Romeo abandons his love sickness to Rosaline in favour of Juliet but Friar Lawrence is keen to examine his sudden actions and soon points out the inconsistencies in his behavior. Nevertheless, he is persuaded that what Romeo had felt for Rosaline was not love but love ‘read by rote that could not spell’ (Act 2, Sc 3, line 88). Friar Lawrence acts as confident and gives advice to Romeo and solutions whenever he faces situations he cannot face or solve himself. Romeo’s attachment to the Friar is stronger than for his parents. We learn that Juliet and her relationship with her parents are not different to Romeo’s either. Also, Friar Lawrence represents the holiness of the Church of Verona and is aware of the ongoing family feud between the Caplets’ and the Montagues’.

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Throughout the play, Shakespeare employs dramatic irony since Friar Lawrence is one of the only characters along with the character of the nurse who enables the audience to access to their secret uniting: the wedding ceremony which was carried out under Romeo’s request ‘to marry us today’ (Act 2, Sc 3, line 64); without the families knowing. However, Friar Lawrence is taken aback by his first reactions, but his intentions conclude what is to come.

Friar Lawrence has what may be called a sense of destiny: he feels it is in his power to alter the cause of ...

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