What would be a possible thesis statement for an essay regarding act 2, scene 3 l.1-18 in which Friar Lawrence gives a speech?We have to write an essay regarding act 2, scene 3 l.1-18 in which...

What would be a possible thesis statement for an essay regarding act 2, scene 3 l.1-18 in which Friar Lawrence gives a speech?

We have to write an essay regarding act 2, scene 3 l.1-18 in which Friar Lawrence gives a speech. We have to develop a thesis statement and prove it with arguments from the text. I have no idea how such a thesis statement in this case could look like since 18 lines don't offer much space for interpretation and I've been told that a thesis statement has to state sth. you assume and nothing that is obvious. Please help!

Asked on by jb305

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creativethinking | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Assistant Educator

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This may be a pretty brief, specialized passage, but luckily, I think there's quite a bit you can do with it. The first thing I would recommend is to become familiar with this little monologe inside and out. Make sure you know exactly what Friar Lawrence is saying here. eNotes etexts can help you out if you need a little modernization to aid your understanding (link below).

My first instincts are to either go for a close reading of the passage itself, in a contained way or to seek the impact that this passage may have on the play as a whole. Zoom in, or zoom out. I'll talk a little about how to approach each of these.

Close reading: This approach requires very close attention to the wording that Shakespeare chooses to give his character. For me, the personification of all the weather and plant elements is very apparent. For example, the "grey eyed morn smiles" and nature is a "mother" with "children of divers kind." You could call out different examples of this and create a thesis about the effect of personification on the message of Friar Lawrences monologue. Something like: Through the personification of natural elements, Friar Lawrence reveals the humanity and balance of the natural world.

Impact on the play: For this one, we need to implement one of the golden rules of literature--things are not always what they seem. Yes, Friar Lawrence is talking about the earth and gathering plants. But is he really just talking about plants, or could they be a symbol for something else? He refers to the plants as "children." Through this speech, could Friar Lawrence be foreshadowing something about Romeo and Juliet, the children whom he will soon help to wed? I think it's very possible, and this is why:

For naught so vile that on the earth doth live But to the earth some special good doth give. Nor aught so good but, strained from that fair use Revolts from true birth, stumbling on abuse. Virtue itself turns vice, being misapplied, And vice sometime by action dignified.

In this portion, Lawrence tells us that everything on earth, even if it seems "vile", has some good to offer, and that sometimes "virtue itself turns vice" if it's "misapplied." Also, if it results in the right action, vice can be "dignified." In other words, sometimes things that seem good can be harmful or vice versa. Now, he is talking about plants, here.... Some can be poisonous or tasty, etc. But, if we consider these plants as a symbol for Romeo and Juliet or the Capulet and Montague households, we may have something that could serve as a unique thesis. Something like: As Friar Lawrence discusses the delicate balance of the natural world, he foreshadows the fine line between vice and virtue that Romeo must walk in pursuit of Juliet. Or: As Friar Lawrence discusses his beliefs about the possible healing qualities of plants that may appear poisonous, we can come to a new understanding about his willingness to help facilitate a dangerous, forbidden marriage.

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