I am doing an english assignment on "To what extent were the adults responsible for Romeo and Juliets death'. I have chosen to do three paragraphs on, Friar Lawrence, the Nurse and Fate and...

I am doing an english assignment on "To what extent were the adults responsible for Romeo and Juliets death'. I have chosen to do three paragraphs on, Friar Lawrence, the Nurse and Fate and Destiny. I have decided to do Friar Lawrence and the Nurse first then say that Fate and Destiny are the underlining issues. 

I need some quotes from the play for the nurse to say that she supports their marriage. If possible some for Friar Lawrence and Fate and Destiny would be great too.

Thank you!

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mwestwood's profile pic

mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

A strong argument can be made for placing much responsibility upon Friar Lawrence, mainly because of his hesitations and irresponsible conduct: 

1. Realizing that Romeo and Juliet will probably sin together because of their strong passion for one another, Friar Lawrence performs a marriage ceremony for the young couple. By doing so he both legalizes their conjugal act and he also hopes to unify the families.

For this alliance may so happy prove,
To turn your households' rancour to pure love. (2.3.91-92)

However, Friar Laurence does not go quickly enough to the Capulets to inform them of the marriage he has performed, so his plan backfires.

2. Then, when he learns from Juliet that her father has ordered her to marry Paris, Friar Laurence still does not possess the fortitude to go to Lord and Lady Capulet and inform them that Juliet is already married. Instead, he tries a stealthy plan of delaying tactics which puts the psychological burden upon Juliet and her parents rather than on himself: She is to drink a potion which will simulate her death. After the Capulets are torn in grief over their daughter's death, the priest hopes, they will forgive her anything when she returns to life. Then, explanations can be made and the Friar hopes all will be well.

3. Unfortunately, Friar Laurence's intermediary does not reach Romeo in time to inform him that Juliet is not truly dead; consequently, Romeo hurries to the Capulet catacomb when he in misinformed of Juliet's death. Finding her immobile in the tomb, he naturally assumes she is dead; in despair Romeo kills himself, and his blood is on Friar Laurence's hands.

4. Friar Laurence still could avert Juliet's death if he would remain with Juliet and force her to accompany him when he flees after hearing the guards approach the catacomb. But he is pusillanimous:

                                  Come, come away.
Thy husband in thy bosom there lies dead, 
And Paris, too. Come, I'll dispose of thee
Among a sisterhood of holy nuns.
Stay not to question, for the watch is coming.
Come, go, good Juliet. I dare no longer stay. (5.3.154-157)

Clearly, the Friar's lack of fortitude is much to blame for the tragic ends of both Romeo and Juliet. For, he lacks the courage to speak with Juliet's and Romeo's parents; he is deceitful with the Capulets instead of being forthright about Juliet's marriage, and he only tries once to reach Romeo and he abandons Juliet.

[To be rather sarcastic about the friar, he may have taken his own advice too literally: "Wisely and slow. They stumble that run fast." (2.3.94) He was too slow in informing the Capulets and the Montagues, too fast in running from Juliet ]

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sciftw's profile pic

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

Posted on

I like your premise.  I've never thought too much about how the adults may be responsible for Romeo and Juliet's death.  At least not with the characters that you have chosen.  I often place a lot of blame on Lord Capulet.  He clearly loves his daughter, but I feel that he violently and rapidly explodes into anger about her wanting to marry Romeo.  I've always thought that reaction pushed Juliet far enough away from him to where she didn't care about his opinions any more.  

The nurse is an interesting choice for a character that shares the responsibility of Juliet's death. What's more difficult about the question is finding quotes that show she supports Juliet's marriage to Romeo. Much of her commentary about Romeo is dirty and sexual, not necessarily marriage focused. Most of her marriage quotes are very much in favor of Paris. The nurse flat out tells Juliet to forget Romeo because Paris is the better choice.  

"Romeo is banished, and all the world to nothing
That he dares ne'er come back to challenge you,
Or, if he do, it needs must be by stealth. 
Then, since the case so stands as now it doth, 
I think it best you married with the County. 
O, he's a lovely gentleman! 
Romeo's a dishclout to him. An eagle, madam, 
Hath not so green, so quick, so fair an eye
As Paris hath. Beshrew my very heart, 
I think you are happy in this second match, 
For it excels your first, or, if it did not, 
Your first is dead, or 'twere as good he were, 
As living here and you no use of him."

But there is a sequence at the end of Act 2, Scene 5 where the nurse encourages Juliet to go marry Romeo and takes an active part in arranging for Juliet to meet up with him and Friar Lawrence.  

"Then hie you hence to Friar Laurence' cell; 
There stays a husband to make you a wife: 
Now comes the wanton blood up in your cheeks, 
They'll be in scarlet straight at any news. 
Hie you to church; I must another way, 
To fetch a ladder, by the which your love 
Must climb a bird's nest soon when it is dark: 
I am the drudge and toil in your delight, 
But you shall bear the burden soon at night. 
Go; I'll to dinner: hie you to the cell."

That's about as good as it gets for the nurse encouraging Juliet's marriage to Romeo. Once Act 3 begins, the nurse pulls a complete 180 and backs Lord Capulet's arranged marriage to Paris. The nurse's flip flop is understandable. She wants what is best for Juliet. What's best for Juliet's heart is Romeo. What's best for Juliet's life (financial security and family security) is Paris. 

Friar Lawrence's motivations for wanting Romeo and Juliet to marry are much more political. He has been living with the Capulet and Montague feud his entire life. He sees its destruction, and he would like to find a way to make it stop. He believes that a marriage between a Capulet and a Montague might do just that.  

"But come, young waverer, come, go with me, 
In one respect I'll thy assistant be; 
For this alliance may so happy prove, 
To turn your households' rancour to pure love." (Act 2, Scene 3).  

Hope it helps!

Sources:

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