Friar Lawrence's Role In William Shakespeare's Romeo And Juliet

5345 words - 21 pages

Friar Lawrence's Role in William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet

Friar Lawrence is an intelligent herbalist with great knowledge of
plants and a father figure to Romeo. He is the confidant to Romeo and
Romeo would rather come to Friar Lawrence than to his father. Friar
Lawrence is a pivotal person in Romeos world. Romeo comes to the Friar
to marry Romeo and Juliet and after this he kills Tybalt and is
banished. He then relies on the Friar to sort out the problem and to
rejoin Romeo and Juliet. The Friar is aware of the feuding between the
two families and when Romeo comes to see whether the Friar with marry
Romeo and Juliet the Friar thinks he can turn the "households rancour
to pure love"[1]. The Friar thinks he is vital to the joining of the
two families as he is asked to give advice by members of all families:
Romeo, Juliet, Paris and the Nurse.

It could be argued that Friar Lawrence is partly responsible for the
deaths of Romeo and Juliet as he performs many actions throughout the
play that speed up the fated demise of Romeo and Juliet, including
their marriage, even though he is doing this with good intentions. He
is not entirely to blame though as the Friar did not kill Tybalt and
did not abandon Juliet when things began to go wrong, nor did he start
the feud between the two families or have a hand in fate.

We first see him in Act 2 Scene 3 where he is talking about plants and
their seemingly magical properties and displays a great knowledge of
plants. This information is important, as it is needed to believe
events at the end of the play. Romeo then rushes in explaining that he
doesn't love Rosaline anymore:

"With Rosaline, my ghostly father? No.

I have forgotten that name, and that name's woe."[2]

This is important, as Romeo's love for Rosaline was not pure love like
the love that he has for Juliet. The love that Romeo has for Rosaline
is not real, as he is not enjoying the love; his description of it is
full of oxymorons such as "O brawling love, O loving hate"[3]. These
show that Romeo's love for Rosaline is fake and in chaos, however
Romeo's love for Juliet is pure as when they first meet at the ball
they use religious images.

"…For saints have hands that pilgrims' hands do touch,

And palm to palm is a holy palmers' kiss."[4]

Romeo then confesses that he loves the daughter of Capulet: Juliet and
wants to marry her tomorrow. This causes a problem to the Friar as he
cannot see into the future and can only gamble on what the future may
hold for the two lovers. At this point in the play the Friar is being
very unselfish, he doesn't know whether he will get punished for
marrying the two lovers or could the two lovers be punished quite
severely but he can only hope that the union can turn the
"…households' rancour to pure love."[5] It is his hope...

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