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Shortly after the Watchman's report that Juliet, Paris, and Romeo are dead, Friar Laurence, the Capulets, and Montague arrive on the scene.
It is important for audiences, who have been so enmeshed in this tragedy, to remember that neither the Montagues nor the Capulets have any idea that their children were ever even aquainted--so seeing them dead, together, is an enormous shock.
The Capulets arrive first, and are obviously shaken at the sight of their daughter, who is "bleeding, warm, and newly dead." Montague, upon his arrival on the scene, tells audiences that "my wife is dead tonight;/ Grief of my son's exile hath stopped her breath."
In a long speech, Friar Laurence tells of his role in the secret marriage of Romeo and Juliet, the sleeping potion he gave her to make her appear dead (to avoid marrying Paris), the letter of explanation he sent to Romeo that was "stayed by accident," and his failed attempt to keep Juliet from committing suicide when she awoke to find Romeo dead by her side. He further explains that Juliet's nurse knew about the marriage, and he accepts whatever punishment he deserves for his role in the tragedy. The Prince, though, insists, "We still have known thee for a holy man."
In a poignant reprimand of both the Montagues and the Capulets, the Prince blames both families for having driven their children to these lengths:
Where be these enemies? Capulet, Montague,
See what a scourge is laid upon your hate,
That heaven finds means to kill your joys with love.
And I, for winking at your discords, too
Have lost a brace of kinsmen. All are punished.
In the last lines of the play, the Capulets and Montague agree to end their ancient feud and plan to erect gold statues of their children's likenesses. For, as we learned in the Prologue, the only thing that would end the fighting between the two families would be the death of Romeo and Juliet.
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