The Role of Friar Lawrence in William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet
When we first meet Friar Lawrence (Ð†Ð†Ð·), he appears to be picking
flowers and herbs. He shows us he has a deeper understanding of the
characteristics of herbs and how everything has a good and bad side:
Â“Within the infant rind of this weak flower
Poison hath residence and medecine power.Â”
This also relates to the families of Romeo and Juliet. It dramatically
hints about the bad things to come such as the death of one of the
family members. The audience develops the idea of Friar Lawrence
acting as a father to Romeo: Â“Good morrow, father.Â” The noun ...view middle of the document...
This creates dramatic irony that gives the audience a feeling of
tension because Friar Lawrence foreshadows Romeo and JulietÂ’s death:
Â“These violent delights have violent ends.Â”
This also gives the audience a feeling of uneasiness because of the
prologue already informing us about the tragic death. At this point,
Friar Lawrence appears guilty. He should never have agreed to marry
Romeo and Juliet in secret.
Moving onto Act III, Scene 3, we see a closer and more confidant
relationship with Romeo and the Friar:
Â“Father, what news? What is the PrinceÂ’s doom?Â”
Romeo confesses all his problems to Friar Lawrence for example the
killing of Tybalt. We also see that Friar Lawrence seems to lose his
calm veneer during Romeos banishment. He is under more pressure and
appears to be more stressed and agitated. He gives short sharp bursts
of language, which creates a tense atmosphere on stage:
Â“Hark, how they knock! Â– WhoÂ’s there? Â– Romeo,
Thou wilt be taken.Â”
The nurse also ironically hints at the death of Romeo and Juliet
without noticing it:
Â”Ah sir! Ah sir! DeathÂ’s the end of all.Â”
To an audience, this creates dramatic irony.
Later on in the same scene, Romeo tries to commit suicide. This is
when Friar Lawrence delivers his speech to Romeo. He uses complex
language and repeats them over again such as the rule of three (six
Â“Fie, Fie! Thou shamÂ’st thy shape, thy love, thy wit.Â”
He uses this to condemn RomeoÂ’s actions. He also uses rhetorical
questions (five times) to try and make Romeo feel ashamed of himself:
Â“Art thou a man?Â” This shows how Friar Lawrence is mocking him. He
includes lots of strong, emotional language:
Â“Unseemly woman in a seeming man,
And ill-beseeming beast in seeming both!Â”
He is also mocking Romeo here about him trying to commit suicide.
During the speech, there is the impression that Friar Lawrence is
using Romeo to solve a wider problem i.e. the reuniting of the two
families. Although his plans are spontaneous, his speech could be
rehearsed, and he has made up his mind about the joining up of the
Capulets and Montagues:
Â“With twenty hundred thousand times more joy.Â”
This appears to be a good plan, but the Friar doesnÂ’t take into
account RomeoÂ’s impetuous personality as the audience saw in act III,
scene 1 (the fight scene).
The audience observes a change in the character of Friar Lawrence.
When on stage, the change is more noticeable. When he first appears,
we identify that he has a calm atmosphere after all the action. In act
III, scene 3, he loses this sign of serenity and he becomes more
agitated and stressed in a short amount of time, creating a large
amount of tension amongst the audience.
We see in act IV, scene 1 that Friar Lawrence tries to...