How important are the roles of the nurse and Friar Lawrence?

Expert Answers
Noelle Matteson eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The nurse and Friar Lawrence are both crucial to the play’s plot. The nurse is a wonderful character who supports Juliet. She loves to joke and laugh. However, she is also very protective of her ward. In terms of the play’s storyline, the nurse is one of the few people who is privy to the romance between Romeo and Juliet, so she serves as a go-between. She is the one who tells Romeo that Juliet wishes to marry him, warning him not to “lead her into a fool's paradise.” She also tells the friar about Juliet’s distraught state after Romeo kills Tybalt and is banished. The nurse’s final contribution to the plot is advising Juliet to marry Paris. At this point, all hope seems lost for the young lovers, and her advice is practical. However, this simply leaves the nurse out of Juliet’s final plans, in which she pretends to commit suicide in order to reunite with Romeo.

Friar Lawrence plays an incredibly important role in Romeo and Juliet. He is Romeo’s adviser, aware of his love for Juliet from the beginning. In spite of his misgivings about Romeo’s haste, the friar decides to marry the two in order to unify their warring families. It is he who suggests that Juliet pretend to kill herself. Unfortunately, his letter to Romeo is delayed, which he rightly realizes “May do much danger.” Friar Lawrence is too late to save Romeo, and he fails to convince Juliet to flee the tomb in which she awakens. In fear, he runs away, leaving her alone in the crypt where she stabs herself. Some, including the friar himself, blame Friar Lawrence’s machinations for the whole debacle, but the prince simply says, “We still have known thee for a holy man.” In short, both the nurse and the friar are counselors and confidants to Juliet and Romeo who do not harbor the prejudices of the feuding households. However, they are still unable to save the young couple from doom and even play a part in their deaths.

Read the study guide:
Romeo and Juliet

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question