In Romeo and Juliet by Shakespeare, what quotes show that Friar Laurence cares about Romeo's happiness? 

In Romeo and Juliet by Shakespeare, what quotes show that Friar Laurence cares about Romeo's happiness?


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poetrymfa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Friar Laurence shows his concern for the wellbeing of Romeo (and for the potential opportunity for peace between the Montagues and Capulets that his union with Juliet could bring) in Act Two, Scene Six. Friar Laurence expresses this hope by stating, "So smile the heavens upon this holy act, / That after hours with sorrow chide us not!" He wants this marriage to be a blessed one that will bring joy to replace the violence between these families. Still, he harbors concern that this love is moving too fast and cautions Romeo:

These violent delights have violent ends

And in their triumph die, like fire and powder,

Which as they kiss consume: the sweetest honey

Is loathsome in his own deliciousness

And in the taste confounds the appetite:

Therefore love moderately; long love doth so;

Too swift arrives as tardy as too slow.

Someone who had no personal investment in Romeo's happiness would not take the time to counsel him in this manner. Friar Laurence's advice is sound: Don't rush into anything. Don't get ahead of yourselves. Proceed with caution. This is not the first nor last time that Friar Laurence has encouraged Romeo to think carefully about his actions; earlier in Act Two, Friar Laurence tells Romeo to move "[w]isely and slow" for "they stumble that run fast."

This persistent concern and the repeated use of adages suggests that Friar Laurence plays an almost parental role in Romeo's life. In fact, when Romeo flees to Friar Laurence's cell after killing Tybalt, Friar Laurence is the one to bring him the news of his banishment. He attempts to soften this blow with language of endearment:

Too familiar

Is my dear son with such sour company:

I bring thee tidings of the prince's doom.

Again, Friar Laurence calls for careful thought and action: "Be patient, for the world is broad and wide." Although he is mostly gentle with Romeo, Friar Laurence finally gives him a dose of tough love when Romeo threatens to kill himself in a fuss over his banishment. Friar Laurence responds to this sharply: "Fie, fie, thou shames they shape, thy love, thy wit..." 

Perhaps the strongest argument for Friar Laurence's interest in Romeo's happiness is that he is willing to testify on the lovers' behalf to the Prince, even though this risks his reputation within Verona. He acknowledges this when he states that he stands "both to impeach and purge / Myself condemned and myself excused." Though he is not ultimately able to save Romeo from his dim fate, Friar Laurence retains his commitment to Romeo and Juliet's message through the act of telling the truth: that love should triumph over all.

Read the study guide:
Romeo and Juliet

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