In Act 2 Scene 3 of "Romeo and Juliet", what does Friar Laurence's speech mean?Please be specific, I would really like to understand what he was trying to imply.

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kmj23 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In act 2, scene 3, Friar Lawrence is collecting herbs and flowers to make medicine. As he makes his selection, he talks about how everything that comes from the Earth has some special quality to it, and that no plant is inherently good or poisonous. More importantly, he says that these plants only turn poisonous when they are misused by people:

Nor aught so good but, strained from that fair use

Revolts from true birth, stumbling on abuse.

We can apply this idea to the feud between the Montagues and Capulets. Just as a plant can be good or evil, depending on how we use it, the men involved in this feud can also be good or evil. In other words, the Montagues and the Capulets have the ability to make a choice. They can either act badly and continue this feud, or they can change their ways and make amends. It is up to them because nothing created by nature is inherently evil.

Jen Sambdman eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Friar is basically saying that men are both inherently good and evil. It is just like the old saying "The path to Hell is paved in good intentions". Although one may MEAN well, sometimes it ends up not working out in a positive manner. When Romeo is so bent on revenging Mercutio's death by Tybalt, he is indeed doing something admirable. However, the killing of Tybalt sealed his and Juliet's fate in being separated and then their subsequent death.

His speech is a mere foreshadowing of what is to come. The romantic love story between two teenagers doing everything in their power to be together and accepted by their families and it all ends in a huge mess. Just like some of the most beautiful flowers can be deadly to the touch, people can try to do something beautiful and have it end in mere tragedy.

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Romeo and Juliet

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