In act 3, scene 3 of the Shakespearean tragedy Romeo & Juliet, Romeo has killed Tybalt and is awaiting news of his punishment. He has also secretly wed Juliet at this point. Friar Laurence gives Romeo the news that he is to be banished from Verona. Romeo says that he would rather be dead, in this famous line:
Ha, banishment! Be merciful, say “death,”
For exile hath more terror in his look,
Much more than death. Do not say “banishment.”
Friar Laurence becomes frustrated with him:
O deadly sin! O rude unthankfulness!
Thy fault our law calls death, but the kind Prince,
Taking thy part, hath rushed aside the law,
And turned that black word “death” to “banishment.”
This is dear mercy, and thou seest it not.
Friar Laurence feels that Romeo should be relieved to hear that his punishment was not death. When Romeo makes his dramatic proclamations, such as the idea that there is no life for him beyond Verona's walls and that even flies have more freedom than he does because they can touch Juliet's skin and he can't, the Friar scolds him for being ungrateful.
When the nurse knocks at the door, Friar Laurence orders Romeo to hide because he is fearful that Romeo will be taken away and suffer a worse punishment if he is found. The Friar is relieved to find it is only the nurse, inquiring about how Romeo is doing. He tells her that Romeo is getting drunk on his own tears.
In a long and exasperated speech, Friar Laurence tells Romeo that he is acting like an irrational beast and that he thought he was smarter than that. There is great use of figurative language in this speech when Friar Laurence says:
Thy wit, that ornament to shape and love,
Misshapen in the conduct of them both,
Like powder in a skill-less soldier’s flask,
Is set afire by thine own ignorance;
And thou dismembered with thine own defense."
Friar Laurence is saying to Romeo that he is like a soldier whose gunpowder explodes on him rather than on the enemy. The very things that Romeo should be using to protect himself end up killing him.
Friar Laurence goes on to give Romeo three reasons he should be grateful and not wallowing in the pit of despair. The first reason is Romeo should be happy is that Juliet is alive. Secondly, he should be happy that he was able to slay Tybalt, who was a much more experienced swordsman and was intent on killing Romeo. Lastly, he points out that the law called for him to die for his crimes, but he was shown mercy and given banishment instead.
After this, the Friar offers Romeo a plan to give him hope. He tells him to go to Mantua and wait while everyone's tempers cool down. He tells Romeo he will tell everyone that Romeo and Juliet
are married, and he thinks that once the families find this out, they will welcome Romeo back and everyone will be happy. He believes the news of this marriage will end the enmity between the two families, which has caused so much trouble.
Friar Laurence is a father figure to Romeo and a trusted confidante. He loves Romeo—if he didn't, he wouldn't have bothered correcting him and coming up with a plan to rescue him from banishment. The Friar's advice seems sound, although it is perhaps naive. I believe he sincerely thinks this plan will work. However, as the events unfold, the situation gets farther away from anything the Friar can control.