William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet

William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet

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In all of the best works of literature, each of a writer's characters has a purpose whether the role is small or big. Even if it goes unnoticed, the small characters usually play a key role to the story's plot development. These minor characters also add depth to the story's world and also help in the development of the major characters' personality. In William Shakespeare's play The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet, the minor characters of Friar Lawrence, the Nurse, and Tybalt are in many ways the most pivotal characters to the play's development.
Friar Lawrence, a small, yet important character, is pivotal to the play's development. For example, shortly after Romeo and Juliet meet, Friar Lawrence decides to do as Romeo and Juliet wish and marry them in order to make peace between their families; "Come, come with me, and we will make short work, /for by your leaves, you shall not stay alone / Till Holy Church incorporate two in one". (II, 6, 35-37) Though the Friar has good intentions in deciding to do as Romeo pleads, the marriage only leads to complications and deceit. Another instance when Friar Lawrence is a key character is when he gives Juliet a poison that will put her into a deathlike sleep in a plan to reunite her with Romeo; "Thou hast the strength of will to slay thyself, /And if thou darest, I'll give thee remedy". (IV, 1, 73, 77) Friar Lawrence's plan is clearly not well thought-out because it is much too risky and many safer plans would have had better results.

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The regrettable outcome of this plan is that Romeo believes that Juliet is actually dead and he takes his own life because of it. The final example of Friar Lawrence's importance to the play is when he sends another Friar to give Romeo letters explaining his plan; "Shall Romeo by my letters know our drift, /And hither shall he come". (IV, 1, 116-117) When the letters are not delivered to Romeo, it is clear that Friar Lawrence is overly confident in his plan, and this confidence leads to Romeo and Juliet's death. Knowing the importance of these letters, it would be expected that Friar Lawrence would have involved himself in the delivery of them, but he had not considered the possibility of failure that ended up occurring. These instances demonstrate that Friar Lawrence is of huge importance to the play's development despite his shortage of lines.
The role of the Nurse appears minor in the context of the main idea of The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet, but the Nurse actually is in many ways vital to the play's development. One example of the Nurse's importance is when she acts as a message carrier between Romeo and Juliet; "I will tell her, sir, that you do protest, which, as / I take it, is a gentlemanlike offer". (II, 4, 181-182) If it had not been for the Nurse, communication between the two lovers would be very near impossible and much too risky, for no one else knows of their relationship. Another significant instance in which the Nurse continues to play an important role is when she comforts Juliet and promises to retrieve Romeo from Friar Lawrence's cell; "Hie to your chamber. I'll find Romeo / to comfort you. I wot well where he is. / Hark you, your Romeo will be here at night. / I'll to him. He is hid at Lawrence' cell". (III, 3, 151-154) This scene shows how Juliet relies on the Nurse for comfort and assistance. Without the Nurse to comfort her, Juliet may have made some rash and harmful decisions. The final and most important example of the Nurse's importance to the play is when she too gives into the thought that Juliet is better off marrying Paris; "Then, since the case so stands as now it doth, / I think it best you married with the county".(III, 5, 229-230) This scene is of utmost importance because the Nurse has been Juliet's only comfort and support, and when the Nurse finally gives in, it seems to Juliet that there is no one left for her to rely on. Without the Nurse's support, Juliet resorts to a risky plan of Friar Lawrence's that leads to Juliet's death. As exemplified through these scenes, the Nurse clearly is vastly important to Shakespeare's tragedy.
Though Tybalt's role in The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet is brief, he is, in many instances, key to the story's development. The first instance in which it is clear that Tybalt is a vital character is when revenge gets the better of Romeo and, to avenge Mercutio's death, he slays Tybalt; "Tybalt, here slain, whom Romeo's hand did slay". (III, 1, 160) The murder of Tybalt is the most pivotal scene in Shakespeare's tragedy because as Tybalt dies, all of Romeo and Juliet's plans vanish and much greater problems begin to block their love and destroy their relationship. Tybalt's importance is also exemplified through Romeo's immediate banishment from Verona as declared by the Prince; "And for that offence / Immediately we do exile him hence". (III, 1, 196-197) Being banished from Verona, though better than death, makes it very near impossible to envision a happy ending for Romeo and Juliet's relationship. To add to the complications and troubles of the young lovers, Tybalt's death invokes what appears to Lord Capulet as a nice way to cheer up his daughter, Juliet-- an immediate marriage to Paris; "These times of woe afford no times to woo-. / Madam, good night. Commend me to your / daughter". (III, 4, 8-10) With all of the troubles that are being forced upon Juliet already, trying to escape a wedding to a man that she barely knows makes everything all the more desperate. For Juliet's declination of the marriage between her and Paris does not settle well with her father and it becomes even more obvious that she has no one to help her anymore. Though somewhat indirect, Tybalt's importance to the play is undeniable.
Throughout Shakespeare's The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet, the minor characters of Friar Lawrence, the Nurse, and Tybalt are in many ways the most important characters to the development of the play. As in all great stories, each of Shakespeare's minor characters has a purpose even if it is not prominent when picturing the main idea of the play. Even if the small characters are simply used to further illustrate the main characters' personality and purpose, they are still very important to the plot. As apparent in all respectable literature, the importance of a story's characters does not depend on the amount of lines the characters have.
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