Describe the reactions of the Nurse, Lord Capulet, Lady Capulet, Paris and Friar Laurence to Juliet's death in William Shakespeare's play "Romeo and Juliet."
Whenever the student is asked to extend characterization of personages in a literary work, he or she should strive to generate actions and words that are "in character"; that is, whatever the character says or does should be consistent with previous words and actions.
In the final act, both Paris and Friar Laurence have entered the Capulet tomb. While Paris departs when he hears someone coming, he later returns and Romeo, having already entered, kills him.
On his first entry Paris is under the impression that Juliet is dead. When he enters her tomb, he is overcome with grief and promises to bring flowers and weep at her grave nightly:
The obsequies that I for thee will keep
Nightly shall be to strew thy grave and weep.
- Friar Laurence
Knowing at what hour the potion will wear off, Friar Laurence enters the cell with the intention of waking Juliet. And, because Mantua has been quarantined, he will "keep her at my cell till Romeo come." However, after Juliet awakens, Friar Laurence hears the guards and flees out of fear of being arrested, leaving Juliet ignorant of any news of Romeo.
Surely, then, after having learned of Juliet's suicide, Friar Laurence would be plagued with guilt for having left Juliet alone, and he should feel that some of the sin of self-murder would be upon his soul along with responsibility for Paris's having been at the tomb. His grief and guilt may be in the form of a prayer:
Forgive Thy dear children Romeo and Juliet because theirs was too violent a love, too like the candle that burns itself out. It is I, your humble, but unworthy servant, who is responsible for their deaths, for I should have married them never. To their parents I should have gone, just as I shouid never have left her side in that dismal catacomb.
Oh, but 'tis I who have sinned most grievously. Would that I could return such an angelic soul to earth.
- Lord and Lady Capulet
Juliet's parents would wonder why Friar Laurence failed to inform them about their daughter, and they would greatly resent the priest's having stricken them with grief when she was not really dead, as well as why he had not come to them instead of taking matters into his own hands and marrying Juliet and Romeo. Certainly, there would be anger toward Friar Laurence as well as resentment, and the testy Lord Capulet would lash out at him. After his anger, then, would come tears and regret that he had insisted Juliet marry Paris. In addition, he and Lady Capulet would severely chide the Nurse for having kept Juliet's marriage a secret from them because the marriage to Paris would never have been broached. Lady Capulet would certainly berate the Nurse for not informing her about the activities of Juliet; she would regret not having been closer to Juliet, as well.
After days of blubbering and crying, the Nurse would hang her head shamefully for having been the accomplice of Juliet. Perhaps she would be sent away. The loss of Juliet would be devastating to the Nurse who truly loved the young woman; in fact, Juliet was more her daughter than Lady Capulet's.
Oh, my Juliet, my sweet! You confided in me in all things before. Would that I had not urged you to marry Paris! Maybe then you would have spoken in my ear. My sweet girl, my heart breaks with every thought of you. O Romeo! Why did thou enter our lives. O heartbreak forever! I rue the day ever I spoke to thee!
The reactions of the characters of the Nurse, Lord Capulet, Lady Capulet, Paris, and Friar Laurence to the apparent death of Juliet in Act IV after she consumes the vial given her by Friar Laurence are as follows:
In Scene 5, the Nurse goes into Juliet's chamber to awaken her for her wedding day, but instead finds an unresponsive Juliet.
I must needs wake you: Lady! lady! lady!
Alas! alas! Help! help! my lady's dead!
Oh, well a-day, that ever I was born!
Knowing that Juliet was distraught about being told she must marry Paris when she is already married, the Nurse blames herself for Juliet's death as she made light of her marriage to Romeo and urged Juliet to marry Paris; she refused to acknowledge the depth of Juliet's love for Romeo.
- Lady Capulet
After hearing the Nurse, Lady Capulet enters, crying out,
O me, O me! My child, my only life.
Revive, look up, or I will die with thee.
This reaction is deeper than one would expect as Lady Capulet has displayed little affection in the play for Juliet, instead insisting that she marry Paris. Later, she says that this is the most "miserable hour that e'er time saw."
- Lord Capulet
The selfish father, too, is silenced by the apparent loss of his child. At first stunned, he soon realizes that she is stiff and cold. He, too, is terribly moved by this loss when heretofore he has threatened to send her to a nunnery if she refused to obey him.
Death lies on her like an untimely frost
Upon the sweetest flower of all the field.
Indeed, Lord Capulet is greatly moved by his loss. Lady Capulet notes that they were able to miss her death and spared that misery while the Nurse cannot cease exclaiming:"O day!" rueing that this has happened.
When Paris arrives, he is overcome. Having a light heart and hoping to soon be joined with his bride in matrimony, now, he is told that Juliet has died.
Have I thought long to see this morning’s face,And doth it give me such a sight as this?
The heavens do lour upon you for some ill.Move them no more by crossing their high will.
Each of the major surviving characters in William Shakespeare's play Romeo and Juliet react differently to the death of Juliet, but what many share in common is that their reactions to her death serve to reveal their ethical natures to the audience.
Nurse: The Nurse does not appear in the play after the death of Juliet, and so we do not actually have a record of her reaction, although one might expect, given her love for Juliet and partial complicity in the scheme leading to her death, that she would feel some combination of sorrow and guilt.
Lord Capulet: Lord Capulet reacts by realizing that his feud with Montague is what precipitated this tragedy, and in his sorrow, agrees to become reconciled with Montague. Thus his sorrow at the death of his daughter transforms his ethical character and brings him wisdom of a sort. He comments:
O brother Montague, give me thy hand:
This is my daughter's jointure, for no more
Can I demand. ...
Lady Capulet: Lady Capulet appears overcome by sorrow at the death of Juliet, and sees in it an intimation of her own mortality, saying "O me! this sight of death is as a bell,/That warns my old age to a sepulchre."
Paris: When Paris thinks that Juliet is dead, he reacts with a combination of sorrow over her death and anger at Romeo who he considers the reason for her apparent suicide. He expresses his sorrow by promising to bring flowers to her grave and mourn each night: "The obsequies that I for thee will keep/Nightly shall be to strew thy grave and weep." He expresses his anger at Romeo in the lines: "This is that banish'd haughty Montague,/That murder'd my love's cousin, with which grief,/It is supposed, the fair creature died..."
Friar Laurence: Although Friar Laurence helped the young lovers with the best of intentions, he realizes that the very scheme he concocted to help them proved their undoing. His main reaction to their death is a sense of guilt and sorrow, as we see in the lines:
... and, if aught in this
Miscarried by my fault, let my old life
Be sacrificed, some hour before his time,
Unto the rigour of severest law.