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Romeo and Juliet - Friar Laurence

  • Date Submitted: 01/28/2010 08:03 AM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 52.2 
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To what extent is Friar Laurence responsible for the deaths of Romeo and Juliet?

The Friar is answerable for the deaths of Romeo and Juliet, but only to some degree.   Often, because of his involvement in the lives of the lovers, Friar Laurence can be seen as more responsible for their deaths than he actually is, although in the last scene the Friar is partially responsible for the death of Juliet.   However his responsibility is mild compared to the accountability of other influences in the lovers’ lives, including friends, parents and the idea of fate or fortune. Even Romeo and Juliet themselves can be blamed to some extent for the tragedy.  

Although it often appears that the Friar is responsible for events leading to the deaths of Romeo and Juliet, in reality it is usually other influences that are accountable. For instance, the Friar’s plan (giving Juliet the sleeping potion to evade the wedding to Paris, then spiriting her to Mantua until Romeo could return to Verona) was not flawed in itself. Unfortunately however, Balthazar, seeing Juliet’s funeral, hastened to tell Romeo that he “saw her laid low in her kindred’s vault,” (5, 1, 20).   It was this information that made him, and later Juliet, commit suicide.   Again, while marrying Romeo and Juliet may seem like an irresponsible action, it did not contribute to the lovers’ deaths.   Their first meeting, based on chance, and their separation, as a result of Romeo’s banishment, played a far greater role in the tragedy.

However, the Friar contributes to the death of Juliet by his behaviour at the tomb.   Not only does he offer her no comfort at seeing her love dead, he also gives her no hope for the future but life “among a sisterhood of holy nuns” (5, 3,157) and then abandons her in the tomb because he does not want to be blamed for Romeo and Paris’ death by the Watch.   This is both selfish and irresponsible, especially as Juliet has already threatened to...


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