Who should take the most responsibiltiy for what happened at the end of Romeo and Juliet - the nurse, Friar Laurence, or Lord Capulet? Why?
I always think it is Friar Lawrence who did the most in the situation to violate his trust to Romeo and Juliet and to his religious obligations; but this may be part of Shakespeare comment on the insincere and unethical state of Catholic clergy during the Renaissance. Lawrence's responsibility as their spiritual adviser was to forestall their rash actions and warn their parents and the Prince. Surely his responsibility did not encompass giving Juliet a semi-poison to drink.
I have to agree with #7 in that the tragedy is really a collective responsibility. Each of the characters mentioned is acting according to what they believe to be right, but each is somewhat blinded to the interpretations that others place on their actions. The nurse and the friar worked to put love first, but in a climate where hate was the dominant emotion. Lord Capulet seeks to preserve ancient rights of parentage and control in an age when such control is waning.
Friar Laurence is the most responsible. In his role as a member of the clergy and advisor to Romeo, he betrayed both of these duties. He clearly did not think his plan through. What was Friar Laurence going to say to the families and townspeople when Romeo and Juliet came back a year later? He tells Romeo that he'll come back in a year and everything will be fine. Seriously? The Friar let both families think that Juliet was dead, when he knew she was not. An outsider to the family should be able to see things more clearly and give sound advice, not advice that causes such heartache to both families.
I think they all played their part. The Nurse and Friar Lawrence kept the marriage a secret. The Nurse orchestrated it while the friar actually performed the ceremony. Neither told the appropriate authorities nor Romeo and Juliet's parents. Of course, they had their reasons. Lord Capulet certainly pressed Juliet into a corner. While he thought she was merely ungrateful, she was really already married. It's hard to hold him responsible though because Juliet could have told him the truth. Granted, she didn't want to be disowned, but she could have left Verona to live happily ever after with Romeo in Mantua. Lord Capulet pressed Juliet but it was her decision. The nurse can't be held fully responsible either because of her position as a servant. While she was like a mother to Juliet, she was still an employee. She wanted to help Juliet but she also couldn't really go against her wishes. Friar Lawrence is the only one, apart from Romeo and Juliet themselves, that had all the information and was free to act. Rather than taking the appropriate actions, Friar Lawrence seems to continue to try to fix things himself and keep the secret rather than telling the truth. He is the one who orchestrated the failed plan of pretending Juliet was dead. It is the disastrous downfall of this plan that leads to the tragic ending. Perhaps, we should hold the Friar most responsible.
This is a tough call, because Friar Lawrence actively knew what he was assisting the young people in doing. Lord Capulet's stubborn stance with his daughter does make Juliet feel that she has no other viable options other than the completely mad scheme to fake her death. Between the two, Friar Lawrence seems the more culpable party; he had good motives in helping Romeo and Juliet, but he also had a responsibility to his faith and clergy. He should have stepped in and tried to reason or counsel Lord Capulet, insteand of encouraging the young people to deceive their parents. I think in real life Lord Capulet would have pressed charges on the Friar as an accessory to man slaughter.
Lord Capulet also was unknowingly responsible for allowing Romeo and Juliet to meet in the first place. Tybalt recognized Romeo as a Montague at the Capulet's ball, and Lord Capulet refused to allow him to force him to leave. Minutes later, Romeo became smitten with Juliet. I think the Friar gets somewhat of a pass because he genuinely hoped that the union between the two lovers might foster a reconciliation between the families. As for the Nurse, she was Juliet's confidant, and I can see why she did what she did. The complexities of questions like this are one of the reasons I'm really beginning to appreciate this play more than I did when I was younger. I always loved Macbeth, Hamlet, and King Lear, but never got into Romeo and Juliet.
The first two answers are pretty reasonable. You could also hold Friar Laurence to a degree of guilt because he had a lot to do with helping Romeo and Juliet sneak around behind the scenes instead of dealing with things in an open way. Friar Laurence enabled their "sneakiness" and made it possible for things to get as far out of hand as they did.
I must agree with pohnpei. Lord Capulet's issues with Romeo's family drove Juliet to make the decision she made. Her father left her no choice but to take her own life given his feelings about the feud. Juliet knew that her father would not approve of the relationship.
Of the three, I'll go with Lord Capulet, although that may not really be fair to him. He didn't know that he was driving his daughter to despair, but he was. It was his harshness that drove her to do the rash things that caused her death. So I think that he was the main cause even though he didn't know what he was doing.