William Shakespeare’s play, The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet, tells of two lovers who sacrifice their life for each other throughout their family’s feud. Throughout the play, Shakespeare utilizes the Nurse and Friar Laurence to offer guidance to Romeo and Juliet. The Friar, in particular, is considered “a holy man” because he is a monk and is particularly thought of for his noble counsel (5.3.269). In The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet, Friar Laurence’s advice and plans were designed to bring the two lovers together and end the family feud, but in the end, he should have heeded his own advice which might have prevented the death of Romeo, Juliet, and others.
Once Romeo meets Juliet at the Capulet party, the two fall in love quickly. After Romeo and Juliet talk further in the Capulet orchard, Romeo meets the Friar and tells him of his plans to marry Juliet. Friar Laurence almost instantaneously approves of the matrimony because this might “turn your households’ rancor to pure love” (2.4.92). Romeo rapidly replies by saying, “O, let us hence! I stand on sudden haste” (2.4.93). The Friar replies by telling Romeo that he should slow down because the ones that move swiftly will falter. Although he gives this advice, it is not used in the plan Friar Laurence has to keep Juliet from being wedded to Paris.
After Romeo and Juliet are married, disaster strikes when Juliet surprises Friar Laurence at his cell with the news of her being forced to marry Paris. She is so desperate for a solution that she is willing to murder herself, but the Friar notifies her that a drug which resembles death might be the solution to the crisis:
Hold, then. Go home, be merry, give consent
To marry Paris. Wednesday is to-morrow.
To-morrow night look that thou lie alone;
Let not the nurse lie with thee in thy chamber.
Take thou this vial, being then in bed,
And this distilled liquor drink thou off;
Then presently through all thy veins shall run
A cold and drowsy humour; for no pulse
No warmth, no breath, shall testify thou livest;
The roses in thy lips and cheeks shall fade.
Each part, deprived of supple government,
Shall, stiff and stark and cold, appear like death;
So shalt thou be for two-and-forty hours,
And then awake as from a pleasant sleep.