What are the reactions to Juliet's apparent death in Shakesepeare's Romeo and Juliet, Act 4, Scene 5?

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Tamara K. H. | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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The first reactions we see are Nurse's and her parents' reactions. All three are very shocked to find that Juliet died so unexpectedly and so young. Lord Capulet refers to the untimeliness of her death when he states, "Death lies on her like an untimely frost." This metaphor alludes to the fact that when the frost season arrives too soon, the crops die. He further states that the frost has fallen "upon the sweetest flower of the field," referring to Juliet's youth and beauty.

Friar Laurence's response is a little more harsh. He openly blames Juliet's parents for her death, saying that they were too ambitious to try and marry her so soon. We see him speak of ambition in the line, "For 'twas your heaven she should be advanced and weep ye now, seeing she is advanced." The term advanced refers to their ambitions in seeing her married so soon to a wealthy man, but then Friar Laurence makes an analogy between their ambition and the fact that she is now ascended into heaven. Since he blames them for her death, he also accuses them of loving their "child so ill," meaning so poorly. Finally, he counsels that she would not have been happily married at such a young age by saying, "She's not well married that lives married long."

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