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In the short length of Shakespeare's tragic drama, Romeo and Juliet, Juliet Capulet develops from a dutiful child into a young woman who at first is cautious, then becomes practical and thoroughly in love.
- In Act I, Juliet comes when she is beckoned by her mother, and she dutifully replies,
Madam, I am here.
What is your will? (1.3.7-8)
And, when her mother suggests that she consider marrying "the valiant Paris," Juliet replies, "It is an honour I dream not of (1.3.70); nevertheless, she agrees to consider Paris out of respect for her parent,
I'll look to like, if looking liking move;
But no more deep will I endart mine eye
Than your consent gives strength to make it fly. (1.3.101-103)
- However, in Act I, Scene V, when Juliet meets Romeo, however, the child transforms into a young woman who is capable of considerable insight about love. With poise and a natural wisdom, Juliet speaks with Romeo in one half of a sonnet cautioning him against his lust, "And palm to palm is holy palmers' kiss" (1.5.95).
- Then, in Act II, Scene 2, Juliet demonstrates a maturity beyond her years. For, she is candid with herself in recognizing her feelings; moreover, she cautions Romeo that if he is found in her orchard, the guards will slay him. Further, when Romeo declares his passion for her, Juliet warns him not to swear against the moon
O, swear not by the moon, the inconstant moon,
That monthly changes in her circled orb,
Lest that thy love prove likewise variable.(2.2.113-115)
- But, later in this act as Juliet speaks with Romeo, she, too, becomes passionate and promises her love to her family's enemy. In fact, she is the one who suggests they marry the next day: "Thy purpose marriage, send me word tomorrow" (2.2.150).
- Juliet's love and loyalty to Romeo develops through the remainder of the play. Rather than obeying her parents' wish that she marry Paris, she defies fate and drinks the potion formulated by Friar Laurence. Her one desire is to be with Romeo. For, she even refuses to leave the tomb when the friar cautions her that the guards approach. "Go, get thee hence, for I will not away" (5.3.165). Instead, Juliet would rather remain with Romeo in death.
Juliet develops from a complaisant daughter into an independent-mined, passionate young woman who transcends family feuds and attempts to defy fate in her devotion and love for Romeo.
In terms of Friar Laurence's plan to save Juliet from marrying Paris, in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, it seems to be that the undertaking had too many holes in it to be successful.
From the very beginning, while the Nurse is overy talkative and at times annoying, she is completely dedicated to Juliet. In order for the plan to have worked, the Nurse had to be included. Instead, Juliet returns home from meeting with Friar Laurence, pretending she is sorry for arguing over her parents' desire that she marry Paris, and reports that she has every intention of submitting to their wishes. She says nothing to the Nurse.
See where she comes from shrift with merry look. (IV.ii.15)
[I] am enjoin'd
By holy Laurence to fall prostrate here
To beg your pardon. Pardon, I beseech you!
Henceforward I am ever rul'd by you. (20-23)
They should never have moved forward with the plan unless Romeo knew about it ahead of time. In sending Friar John to Romeo, there should have been some exigency in place in case he did not return for any reason. Besides the threat of plague that stopped Friar John, he could have had an accident or not found Romeo at home. And surely a child could have been found, with the promise of a reward or meal, to run to tell Friar Laurence that there was no way to warn Romeo.
In light of the hatred between the two families and the disaster that had already befallen the young lovers, Friar Laurence should have had the wherewithal to expect that any number of things could have gone wrong. Juliet can be excused because of her youth and inexperience in life.
If these things could not have been avoided, there should have been a contingency plan: Juliet did not have to fall into a sleep that mimicked death.
If, rather than to marry Count Paris,
Thou hast the strength of will to slay thyself,
Then is it likely thou wilt undertake
A thing like death to chide away this shame,
That cop’st with death himself to scape from it;
And, if thou dar'st, I'll give thee remedy. (IV.i.72-77)
Juliet could simply have been given something that made her too ill to get out of bed. Or she might have run away secretly or gone into hiding with the help of Friar Laurence or even Benvolio.
If none of these situations could have been avoided, Friar Laurence should have been at Juliet's funeral bier to assist her when she woke. I would assume that using a drug of this kind would not have been a perfected science at the time. Had Friar Laurence stayed with her body, he would have been present to explain what happened to Romeo.
Murphy's law states that if anything can go wrong, rest assured it will go wrong. This is nothing new—the concept was probably old in Shakespeare's time: Friar Laurence should have been prepared for disaster. Of course if that were the case, the play would not have been a tragedy.
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