The Role of the Friar in William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet

The Role of the Friar in William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet

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The Friar directly and indirectly took part in suicide, murder, and other tragic happenings. The Friar is an honored man, who sells herbs and medicines to the people of Verona. He is a type of ancient pharmacist, who has potions for both causes of good and evil. There are three specific instances of the Friar playing a major role in Romeo and Juliet: the impossible marriage of Romeo and Juliet, Juliet's "death" plan, and Romeo's death. Without the Friar many crucial and tragic events would not have happened in Romeo and Juliet.

The forbidden wedding of Romeo and Juliet could not have happened without the Friar. First of all, the Friar impulsively agreed to marry Romeo and Juliet, even though he knows it will cause later problems. In the beginning, the Friar thinks that "...this alliance may so happy prove; To turn your households' rancor to pure love." (II iv 91-92) Which shows that the Friar has a slight hope of their marriage possibly working. Consequently, at first, he shows no reluctance to marry the two controversial lovers. However, as time moves on, the Friar lets on that he has regrets about the marriage. The Friar feels that "Too swift arrives as tardy as too slow." (II vi 15) In other words, the Friar means that he senses that this whole wedding is happening too fast and he radiates a feeling of second thought. If the Friar had thought this crucial decision through he may have prevented many future tragedies. Accordingly, the Friar knows all along that "These violent delights have violent ends" (II vi 9) The Friar knows that this is an impossible situation, which if made possible by himself will without a doubt end up in tragedy in one way or another. Under these conditions, as the Friar predicts, Romeo sinks into a deep depression, as a result of the fact that he cannot see his wife. Romeo has a one-track mind that is focused on something he cannot have. Similarly, Juliet becomes depressed and is grieving over the reality of her and Romeo's separation. Without the Friar the two lovers would not have been married, which would have prevented both of these depressions and future problems to come.

The Friar is responsible for many problems which have a snowball effect after he assists Juliet with her "death" plan. When Romeo and Juliet are at their lowest point of depression, and Juliet is expected to marry Paris, she needs an escape plan.

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Juliet pays a visit to the Friar, who devises a plan for Juliet to fake her death with a sleeping poison. When Juliet asks the Friar to help her break free from her wedding with Paris, he replies that: "If, rather than to marry County Paris, Thou has the strength of will to slay thyself; Then it is likely thou will undertake A thing like death to elude away this shame, That cop'st with death himself to scrape from it; And, if thou darest, I'll give thee remedy." (IV i 71-76)

Therefore, for the second time, the Friar acts impulsively and agrees to give Juliet this illegal potion. The Friar concocts this entire plan, which will take total perfection and cooperation on everyone's part to work effectively. The Friar has to make sure that Romeo is informed of the plan. However, the Friar puts too much trust in Friar John, who consequently fails to deliver the letter to Romeo. Inevitably, it is Friar Lawrence's' fault that Romeo is not informed and ends up confused about the recent happenings involving Juliet. Also, the blame of the succeeding events should be thrust upon the Friar too. The Friar played an extremely integral role in this part of Romeo and Juliet. Without his carelessness Romeo and Juliet could have been living happily ever after somewhere in Mantua. Instead of the concluding results of the events to come.
Finally, it is the Friars' fault that Romeo and Juliet are dead, which makes his role undoubtedly crucial in Romeo and Juliet. At the outset, the death's of Romeo and Juliet may not, and probably would not, have happened if it were not for the Friar. Romeo, who is not informed of the Friar's plan, kills himself when he thinks that Juliet is dead. Juliet arises and sees Romeo dead, and takes her own life. The Friar is overcome by guilt and realizes that he has "...a short date of breath." (V iii 229) Which could also be interpreted as his confession of his ties to the tragic and untimely deaths of Romeo and Juliet. If the Friar was not the reason for the two suicides he would have no reason for guilt. Innocent people do not act and feel guilty. In the end, the Friar recollects the past events and cannot avoid responsibility for these tragedies. This simple fact shows just how much of a key role the Friar plays in Romeo and Juliet.

Without the Friar many crucial and tragic events would not have happened in Romeo and Juliet. The marriage of Romeo and Juliet, which in turn led to Juliet needing to lie and escape another marriage, which finally led to the premature deaths of Romeo and also of Juliet. None of the preceding would have been possible if it were not for the Friar. The Friar married the two lovers, even though he knew it to be impossible. Likewise, the Friar helped Juliet fake her death and lie to her parents, and did not make a strong enough effort to reveal this plan to Romeo. In conclusion, a Friarless Romeo and Juliet would most likely have at least two lives spared. The lives of Romeo and Juliet. On the other hand, an argument can be made that the conclusion of the play may have been more tragic if Romeo and Juliet had of survived and lived depressed, but without a doubt, either way, the Friar would have been involved. Extract the Friar from the story of Romeo and Juliet, and one may find that there would not have even been a story. The Friar is an extremely important character.
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