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Friar Lawrence - Angel or Devil?
The play Romeo and Juliet describes the aggressive and disorganized relationship of two young and naivee teenagers. Alone these two characters would not have been able to get married without their parents?consent and holding the relationship together. Without the help of Friar Lawrence none of this would have been possible. However from the disastrous finish of the play the question of whether Friar Lawrence's intentions were good or evil arises.
At first glance Friar Lawrence's intentions of helping Juliet and Romeo marry are good. The comment perhaps this marriage will reunite the families?seems convincing, however, perhaps he knew what the faith of these characters would be ?death; or perhaps through incomprehensive thought and disorganization he made honest mistakes.
In all of Shakespeare's play there is a clear Protagonist, whether they are naive or mature, a comic relief character who breaks the tragedy slightly; and finally an Antagonist. However all but one follows this code. In Romeo and Juliet there is no clear Antagonist considering their where enemies from both sides. The only possible solution for this unusual circumstance, it can only be concluded that the antagonist must have been under disguise and worked through deceit.
He may not have from the beginning set out for such evil ways but the events played out that he was forced to make rash decisions.
Each of these two families turned to the Friar so he acted as a bridge and his wisdom was sought for by Romeo and Juliet from him. The first person Romeo turned to tell of his love of Juliet was the friar this begins the idea of a trust and faith in the friar. Naturally it would be assumed that because Romeo had revealed a secret that could split the city in two he is a Mentor providing advice.
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His first major mistake was to allow the marriage to occur because if he was doing this to end the violence, why then did he not mention this when he was to marry Paris and Juliet. No end to violence would be found if the marriage was kept form both the families. Even if the concept was to work, it was never given an opportunity. If the friar had thought through what he was going to do, the consequences may not have been so great but two factors could have contributed to his ill fated decisions. Firstly because these events unfolded so quickly he did not have time to think through the possible consequences, but the more likely was that the decision was based on an evil nature.
A similar fatal situation is presented again. A letter intended on informing Romeo of his plan to evacuate both he and Juliet out of Verona never reached its target. At first glance this situation seems inevitable; however this problem could have been avoided. The friar entrusted a highly important letter to a friend who most likely had little knowledge of its importance, and surprisingly the letter failed. Two possible solutions arise again; either that through the pressure of the situation he made a rash decision or he intentionally refused to deliver the letter himself with the knowledge of its failure.
Finally after the knowledge of the letters?failure he reaches the tomb in which Juliet lay after Romeo under the will to commit suicide. This seems coincidental for a few reasons. Romeo had travelled from outside of Verona after being banished and reached the tomb before the Friar who was in the same city as Juliet's tomb. Secondly he arrived seconds after Romeo had committed suicide which seems very morbid. Finally this coincident is topped of when he abandons Juliet before she commits suicide under the excuse the guard will catch us. When the guard sees the dead bodies the Friar appears to explain the story. This example could either have been an coincident, an attempt to escape prosecution for marrying the two initially or a method for demonstrating he was genuine and to ensure there was no blood on his hands.
All of these examples point to the obvious conclusion that Friar Lawrence was not an honest and good hearted fellow. The demise of the two lovers was moulded by the Friar and he used their naivety as his weapon. The final question of that was his agenda??could be answered that he wanted to escape blame for their marriage and his only option was to kill them, he had a personal grudge against both families, he was insane or he knew that this tragedy would end the feud. These are only a few of the possible options, however another reason may be Shakespeare wanted to provoke irony in that a representative of god was in fact the ultimate evil.