In act 3, scene 3 (lines 109-145), what is Friar Laurence talking about when he is talking to either the Nurse or Romeo—and who is he talking to?

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Gretchen Mussey eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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In act 3, scene 3, Romeo discovers that Prince Escalus has banished him from Verona instead of punishing him by death. Romeo responds to this news by acting hysterically and cursing his own name and situation. Friar Lawrence responds by severely chastising Romeo for his overreaction—before the Nurse enters the scene to describe Juliet's broken heart.

In lines 107–108, Romeo curses his last name and threatens to commit suicide by grabbing a dagger. Friar Lawrence is speaking directly to Romeo in lines 109–145, as he instructs Romeo to control his emotions and calm down. Friar Lawrence proceeds to question Romeo's manhood and chastises him for overreacting (and accuses him of acting like a sensitive woman). The Friar goes on to elaborate on all the bad things associated with committing suicide and challenges Romeo to be grateful that he and Juliet are both alive.

Overall, Friar Lawrence is speaking directly to Romeo in act 3, scene 3 (lines 109-145), where he criticizes Romeo for behaving like an irrational, sensitive woman before encouraging him to remain optimistic about his current situation.

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Jamie Wheeler eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Friar Laurence is talking to Romeo. By this point, Tybault is dead and Romeo has been banished. Romeo is making rash claims and unreasonable demands to get to Juliet and defy her parents. The Friar is trying to shock him with devastating insults. He cries: "Hold thy desperate hand. / Art thou a man? Thy form cries out thou art. / Thy tears are womanish, thy wild acts denote / The unreasonable fury of a beast. Unseemly woman in a seeming man. And ill-beseeming beast in seeming both!"

The friar is first challenging Romeo's physical manhood. He says he looks like a man, ("thy form cries thou art"), but Romeo is acting like a woman (a supreme insult), full of emotion and unguided by reason. To further bring it home, the Friar upgrades his insults, saying essentially, no, you are even worse than a woman. You're acting like an animal, ruled only by your appetites."

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