What happens when Juliet goes to confession in Romeo and Juliet? 

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mrsdutko eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are two scenes where Juliet goes to confession in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. The first instance occurs in Act 2, scene 6, when Juliet meets Romeo secretly to be married. In order to get permission to leave the house and go to the church, Juliet pretends to go to confession. In Act 2, scene 5, the Nurse confirms the marriage plans to Juliet by saying, "Then hie you hence to Friar Lawrence’s cell. There stays a husband to make you a wife."  

The second instance where Juliet attends confession is in Act 4, scene 1. At this point in the play, Juliet has just learned that she is being forced into a marriage with Paris. Despite her pleas to stay the marriage, Juliet's father and mother are insistent that she follow their wishes. When Juliet turned to the Nurse for comfort and advice, her best friend advises her to forget her marriage to Romeo and to marry Paris as her parents wish.  This leaves Juliet feeling isolated and desperate. She immediately pretends to listen to the Nurse, but in an aside lets the audience know that she no longer trusts the Nurse to give her good advice. She visits Friar Lawrence again under the guise of confession, but she actually wants his advice on how to escape her impending marriage to Paris.

Upon her arrival at the church, Juliet encounters Paris, who is there to arrange their wedding ceremony. In an awkward exchange fraught with double meanings, Juliet and Paris converse about their upcoming marriage and true feelings. Once alone with Friar Lawrence, Juliet threatens to commit suicide if he cannot come up with a plan to help her escape her marriage to Paris.