Act 4, scenes 4 and 5, how can the Capulets be comforted in their loss?"Romeo and Juliet" by William Shakespeare

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Scene 5 of Act IV of Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet," Friar Laurence arrives to marry Juliet, but he is told by Lord Capulet,

Death is my son-in-law,/Death is my heir;/My daughter he hath wedded:  I will joys are buried. (IV,v, 41-67)

Knowing that Juliet is not truly dead, Friar Laurence nevertheless chides Lord Capulet by telling him that he and heaven both had a part in creating Juliet, and now heaven is claiming her: heaven hath all,/And all the better is it for the maid:/Your part in her you could not keep from death,/But heaven keeps his part in eternal life./The most you sought was her promotion;/For 'twas your heaven she should be advanced:/And weep ye now, seeing she is advanced/Above the clouds, as high as heaven itself?....She's not well married that lives married long;/But she's best married that dies married young. (IV,v,73-81)

Friar Laurence's motif  seems to be that when one dies in beauty and at the time of one's marriage, the consummation of love, this time is far better than one's having died after long years of marriage--years of struggle, sorrow, etc. that deprive the person of her beauty and youth.  Here the motif is much like A. E. Housman's speaker who extols the advantages of dying young in his poem, "To an Athlete Dying Young."  In this poem, the speaker in apostrophe tells the youth that he is a "smart lad" to "slip betimes away" before the glory no longer remains and the "laurel...withers quicker than the rose."  In short, the athlete will be remembered when he was great.

Likewise, Juliet can be remembered as the beautiful rose that she has been as a young girl.  Friar Laurence continues to say that Juliet's death has been brought on by fate:

The heavens do pour upon you for some ill;/Move them no more by crossing their high will. (V,v, 97-98)

Of course, with the situational irony of Friar Laurence's and the audience's knowledge over the others', the wisest words to the Capulets are the appeal to no longer tempt the fates by continuing the feud; the Capulets should not let Juliet's death be in vain.  Rather, they should open some dialog with the Montagues and seek to end their feuds.  At least, then, Juliet's seemingly senseless death will effect positive, loving results.  And, if the Capulets bury their feud, Romeo can return and claim his bride.

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Romeo and Juliet

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