Friar Laurence’s fault in “Romeo and Juliet” by William Shakespeare

Friar Laurence causes the tragic deaths of the main characters in William Shakespeare’s famous play, Romeo and Juliet. The mishap starts with Friar Laurence encouraging and enabling Romeo and Juliet’s secret relationship. Problems start occurring one after another because of Friar’s reckless ability to plan. As the play progresses, the audience begins to discover Friar Laurence’s selfishness. Friar values his own reputation much more than Romeo and Juliet’s lives. So, we can say that Friar Laurence is to blame for the tragic deaths of Romeo and Juliet.

Friar Laurence encourages and enables Romeo and Juliet’s secret relationship. Friar Laurence’s first appearance in the play is when Romeo goes to see Friar regarding his newfound love. Instead of giving Romeo counsel and encouraging him not to rush into emotional action, Friar immediately begins to discuss marriage. Being the honourable trusted adult, Friar Laurence agrees to perform a forbidden marriage without the approval of Romeo and Juliet’s families, in hope that this opportunity will unite the two disputing families. For a holy man to guide the very young lovers in deliberately disobeying their parents and to hide the truth, are not examples of providing wise or holy counsel. (2.3.93-95) Friar Laurence states, “In one respect, I’ll thy assistant to be; For this alliance may so happy prove To turn your household’s rancour to pure love.” Friar Laurence is not only responsible for the aftermath, but also for making the assumption that such an immense commitment will end the Capulet and Montague family feud.

The Friar Laurence’s devious and poor planning ability causes continuous problems. Eagerness for peace, Friar does not ensure his plans are foolproof; he lacks urgency and makes inconsiderate decisions. As unpredictable events occur, Friar makes up a last minute plan with too many uncertainties. (3.3.159-162) Friar commands, “Go before, Nurse. Commend me to thy lady And bid her hasten all the house to bed, Which heavy sorrow makes them apt unto. Romeo is coming.” This quote displays how Friar thinks that his rash planning skills will solve the already existing problems and moreover, solve the rivalry between the two families even though they are against his characteristics, morals and religion.

The holy Friar Laurence’s decisions are self centred for the sake of saving his reputation. As Friar Laurence is an honourable priest as well as a father figure to Romeo. His characteristics and strong religious beliefs do not cast him as a

suspect of causing all the problems occurring throughout the play. Friar uses this to his advantage in hope that his continuous disastrous plans will workout so he will not be at fault. Friar’s reasoning for agreeing to this marriage is even more compelling: to turn the Capulet and Montague feud into love. Friar Laurence is only motivated by his own personal desire to create peace. Once Friar marries the two, he cannot reveal this secret until it works, otherwise he loses his religious standing.

After events turn the wrong way, Friar continues to manipulate the characters to carry out his plans to ideally reach peace for Verona. He is, therefore, treating Romeo and Juliet as a pawn for peace for his selfish act. When things go wrong, Friar makes an escape and leaves the distraught Juliet alone in the intention of saving his own skin. (5.3.157-165) Friar says, “I hear some noise. Lady, come from that nest Of death, contagion, and unnatural sleep. A greater power than we can contradict Hath thwarted our intents. Come, come away. Thy husband in thy bosom there lies dead, And Paris too. Come, I’ll dispose of thee Among a sisterhood of holy nuns. Stay not to question, for the watch is coming. Come, go, good Juliet. I dare no longer stay.” Through all of Friar’s actions, he tries to meet the expectations of the church to bring peace and salvation to society while manipulating the lovers.

The irresponsible actions of Friar Laurence lead to the tragic suicide of Romeo and Juliet. Although Friar Laurence is a man of high regards; a holy man who is respected and looked upon for guidance by all citizens of Verona, Friar Laurence’s negligent decisions ultimately lead to the lovers deaths. Friar Laurence marries Romeo and Juliet without good intentions after the naïve couple only knew each other for less than a day. Friar Laurence’s reckless planning involves: hiding the marriage from the feuding families, making impulsive plans when disaster occurs, along with abandoning suicidal Juliet when she needs guidance and adult supervision. It is clear that all Friar Laurence’s actions are aimed to save his influence in Verona. All of these poor decisions results to the suicide of the lovers. Therefore, Friar Laurence is surely at fault for the deaths of Romeo and Juliet.