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What are the advantages and disadvantages of Friar Laurence's plan to "save" Juliet in...

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noirlee | Student, Grade 11 | Honors

Posted March 27, 2013 at 2:01 AM via web

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What are the advantages and disadvantages of Friar Laurence's plan to "save" Juliet in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, and was there a better alternative?

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Tamara K. H. | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted March 27, 2013 at 7:25 AM (Answer #1)

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One advantage is that, hypothetically, if Friar Laurence "saves" Juliet by faking her death, then he gets to hide his own role in their marriage. He can secretly unite the couple in Mantua without anyone in Verona learning what had really happened. However, Friar Laurence does not actually need to keep the marriage a secret as the act he performed was neither illegal nor irreligious. According to the law established by the Catholic Church, girls could legally marry in those days at the age of 12 and boys at the age of 14, even without parental consent ("Civil Marriage"). Since the Catholic Church was head of both Church and State, Verona would have abided by this law, making Friar Laurence's act of marrying Romeo and Juliet both perfectly legal and perfectly within his rights as a religious leader. Regardless of the fact that Friar Laurence did not do anything inherently wrong, now that his hopes for uniting the two families through their marriage have gone awry, it's understandable that he wants to keep his deeds a secret.

One disadvantage is that, of course, Friar Laurence's plans to fake Juliet's death could also go awry, as they certainly did. Friar Laurence refers to the fact that fate intervened in his abilities to perfectly follow through with his plans to fake Juliet's death and unite her with Romeo in his lines, "A greater power than we can contradict / Hath thwarted our intents" (V.iii.155-58). What he is referring to is the fact that Romeo did not learn in time that Juliet's death was not a real death, which wreaked havoc, leading to Romeo's death as well as Juliet's own real death. The far better course of action would have been to come clean with Juliet's parents and explain why he couldn't possibly marry her to Paris. Juliet's parents would have of course become irate and disowned her, but they would have disinherited her if she had refused to marry Paris anyway. If Friar Laurence's deeds had become publicly known, Juliet would have still been united with Romeo in Mantua, which was the desired end result.

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noirlee | Student, Grade 11 | Honors

Posted April 25, 2013 at 6:30 AM (Answer #2)

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One advantage is that, hypothetically, if Friar Laurence "saves" Juliet by faking her death, then he gets to hide his own role in their marriage. He can secretly unite the couple in Mantua without anyone in Verona learning what had really happened. However, Friar Laurence does not actually need to keep the marriage a secret as the act he performed was neither illegal nor irreligious. According to the law established by the Catholic Church, girls could legally marry in those days at the age of 12 and boys at the age of 14, even without parental consent ("Civil Marriage"). Since the Catholic Church was head of both Church and State, Verona would have abided by this law, making Friar Laurence's act of marrying Romeo and Juliet both perfectly legal and perfectly within his rights as a religious leader. Regardless of the fact that Friar Laurence did not do anything inherently wrong, now that his hopes for uniting the two families through their marriage have gone awry, it's understandable that he wants to keep his deeds a secret.

One disadvantage is that, of course, Friar Laurence's plans to fake Juliet's death could also go awry, as they certainly did. Friar Laurence refers to the fact that fate intervened in his abilities to perfectly follow through with his plans to fake Juliet's death and unite her with Romeo in his lines, "A greater power than we can contradict / Hath thwarted our intents" (V.iii.155-58). What he is referring to is the fact that Romeo did not learn in time that Juliet's death was not a real death, which wreaked havoc, leading to Romeo's death as well as Juliet's own real death. The far better course of action would have been to come clean with Juliet's parents and explain why he couldn't possibly marry her to Paris. Juliet's parents would have of course become irate and disowned her, but they would have disinherited her if she had refused to marry Paris anyway. If Friar Laurence's deeds had become publicly known, Juliet would have still been united with Romeo in Mantua, which was the desired end result.

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