In act 3, scene 3 of Romeo and Juliet, what plan does Friar Lawrence have outlined for Romeo's future?

In act 3, scene 3 of Romeo and Juliet, Friar Lawrence outlines a plan that Romeo will live in Mantua while the Friar prepares for his eventual return to Verona.

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In act 3, scene 3 of Romeo and Juliet, the first order of business for Friar Laurence is to prevent Romeo from despairing or killing himself. When he has done this, indignantly telling Romeo how fortunate he has really been, he outlines his plan. Romeo is to go and comfort Juliet, but leave her and be out of Verona before the morning watchmen arrive to guard the city. He must go and live nearby in Mantua, staying there until the Friar has had time to tell the Capulets and the Montagues of Romeo and Juliet's marriage and use their combined forces to petition the prince to relent, allowing Romeo to come back and live in Verona with Juliet.

The plan is an ambitious one, but it is difficult to see how the Friar could do better in the circumstances. Perhaps the greatest practical risk is that Romeo is to delay his departure from Verona until the next morning, and actually spend the night in Capulet's house. Here, however, the Friar shows wisdom. He knows that Romeo will only find the resolve to carry out the plan if he is able to see Juliet first, and trusts Juliet to inspire Romeo and give him strength.

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Friar Lawrence attempts to convince Romeo that exile is a far more lenient punishment for murdering Tybalt than death would be, though Romeo cannot see it. When Juliet’s Nurse arrives, she explains that Juliet has been made similarly tearful and desperate by the news. Romeo is prepared to use his dagger to hack off the part of himself in which his name lives. Friar Lawrence chastises him for behaving so weakly and lays out the following plan.

First, he tells Romeo, “get thee to thy love,” and go to Juliet’s bedchamber, as they had already agreed upon for the night before the dispute with Tybalt (3.3.156). Next, Romeo should awaken early, before “the watch be set” so that he can sneak out of Verona to Mantua unseen (3.3.158). Third, Friar Lawrence says, they will “find a time” and a way to announce Romeo’s marriage to Juliet, get both of their families to agree to reconcile and put the feud behind them, beg for the Prince’s “pardon” for Romeo’s murder of Tybalt, and “call [Romeo] back” to Verona with nothing but joy and happiness (3.3.160, 162). It’s an ambitious plan, certainly.

So, for now, Romeo is to accept his punishment—exile—and leave Verona, after spending his wedding night with Juliet, of course. Then, he must go to live in Mantua and wait to hear from Friar Lawrence regarding a plan to bring him home.

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When this scene opens, Friar Lawrence delivers Romeo's punishment to him: banishment. Romeo is distraught, saying that this is a fate worse than death. He sobs, and Friar Lawrence tries to redirect his thoughts, reminding him of all he still has to be thankful for. He then turns his focus to establishing a plan for Romeo's future.

The nurse also arrives in this scene to tell Friar Lawrence and Romeo that Juliet is equally pained by this news. Friar Lawrence begins by telling Romeo to first go to Juliet and "comfort her." He'll have to make sure no one sees him there, so the Friar mentions being cautious with the watchman. He then tells Romeo to depart for Mantua, where Romeo will live until things are settled in Verona. During his absence in Verona, Friar Lawrence will work to make his marriage public knowledge, establish a reconciliation between the Capulet and Montague "friends," and beg the Prince's forgiveness for Tybalt's murder. The Friar assures Romeo that once all this is taken care of, Romeo will be able to return to Verona with "twenty hundred thousand times" more happiness than the sorrow he now feels as a result of his banishment.

The nurse exits with instructions to hasten the Capulet household's bedtime preparations so that Juliet can prepare for Romeo's arrival.

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Friar Lawrence suggests that that Romeo fly to Juliet's chamber to comfort her before fleeing to Mantua.  In regards to comforting Juliet, the Friar suggests that Romeo not stay  "till the watch be set" (in other words, until the night watchman takes his post at the gates of Verona) because if Romeo leaves before this, he can flee to Mantua.  Just a few lines later, Friar Lawrence changes his mind and says, "Either be gone before the watch be set, / Or by the break of day disguised as hence" (178-179).  Friar Lawrence is obviously making this up as he goes along, realizing that Romeo can also disguise himself to flee just fine with the watchman present.

Friar Laurence then suggests that Romeo live in Mantua until four things happen:

Till we can find a time / To blaze your marriage, reconcile your friends, / Beg pardon of the Prince, and call thee back / With twenty hundred thousand times more joy / Than thou wentst forth in lamentation. (3.3.160-164)

Hmmmm, Friar Lawrence has quite a grandiose plan outlined for Romeo's future, wouldn't you say?  Friar Lawrence seems to be making this a personal goal of his.  Of course, with that grand of a plan, at least part of it must go awry, but I suppose that is the stuff that Act IV and V are made of.

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