In Act IV, scene 1 of "Romeo and Juliet", how does Paris explain the hasty marriage to the Friar?

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andrewnightingale's profile pic

andrewnightingale | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Paris states that Lord Capulet, Juliet's father, wants to hasten the marriage and that he, Paris, has no objection to it. The Friar tells him that he does not like the idea because Paris has said that he does not know how Juliet feels about him or the whole affair. The Friar believes that the entire situation is unbalanced and risky. 

Paris is adamant and informs Friar Laurence that Lord Capulet is concerned about Juliet's grief. He believes that she is saddened by Tybalt's untimely death. The poor girl has been crying copiously, and she has withdrawn herself. Lord Capulet believes that her grief and isolation are dangerous and that her marriage to Paris will bring respite from her sorrow. He thinks that Paris's company will make his daughter happy, and he is therefore insistent that she should wed quickly.   

Lord Capulet's demand presents a few ironies. He initially rejects Paris's request for marriage in Act 1 and tells him that Juliet is much too young to be wed. He asks Paris to woo her so she may grow to like him. Lord Capulet's sudden change of heart is quite unusual. It seems that he is thinking more about himself than about his daughter. If he is truly so concerned about her well-being, why does he then, in the previous scene, threaten to disown her if she refuses to obey his injunction to marry Paris?       

Juliet's grief, however, is not restricted to Tybalt alone. Her misery is mostly the result of the crisis in her relationship with Romeo. The two are already married, and Romeo has been banished; he risks being executed if he is seen in Verona. Lord Capulet believes that marriage to Paris will bring Juliet comfort. His insistence, however, exacerbates her situation, and the poor girl is overwhelmed.

Furthermore, her father is oblivious about Juliet's relationship with Romeo, and he cannot fathom the depth of her despair. He believes that her overwhelming grief is focused on Tybalt when, in fact, it is his attitude and the events that have gone before that are the main reasons for her enormous distress.

In the end, all these events drive Juliet to desperate means, and she follows Friar Laurence's ill-informed advice. This decision sets her and others on the road to their tragic doom.

sullymonster's profile pic

sullymonster | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Paris tells the Friar that Capulet wants the marriage to happen quickly because Juliet has been weeping constantly for the death of her cousin Tybalt.  Capulet believes that the marriage to Paris will help his daughter get over her grief.

The dramatic irony of this scene is that the audience knows that Juliet is not weeping for Tybalt, but that she is already married and weeping because her husband Romeo has been banished for Tybalt's death.  The audience also knows that the Friar is aware of all this, though Paris is ignorant of it.

Many critics believe that Capulet wasn't so concerned about his daughter's grief.  Instead, he was concerned about the Prince giving out punishment for the death of Mercutio, his cousin.  These critics believe that Capulet wanted the marriage to happen quickly because Paris is also the Prince's cousin, and then the Capulet's and the Prince would be connected... perhaps preventing punishment for the family.