In Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, what is the purpose of bringing the Nurse and Friar Laurence together in Act 3, Scene 3? Could it have been done differently? If so, how would you have done it? 

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meg526 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The reason for bringing the Nurse and Friar Laurence together in Act 3, Scene 3 depends upon the reading of the play. Let's examine a couple of possible reasons these characters interact, and you can determine whether or how the scene could have been different.

One reason the Nurse and Friar Laurence meet in Act 3, Scene 3 speaks to the theme of fate in the play. Throughout the play, Shakespeare reinforces the idea that these "star-crossed lovers" are doomed. Therefore, the Nurse and Friar Laurence must meet in order to set the action of the finale in motion. The Nurse comes with assurances that Juliet still loves Romeo, and Friar Laurence chides Romeo for wailing like a girl when his Juliet lives and still loves him. The Nurse and Friar Laurence aid in reconciling the young lovers, sealing their fate.

Another reason the Nurse and Friar Laurence meet could be an instance of dramatic irony. Though it's become popular to view Romeo and Juliet's marriage as normal for the Elizabethan era, the opposite is true. Historians agree that men and women typically did not marry until their 20s or even 30s -- even nobles. It's critically important to understand that Romeo and Juliet are children, as Shakespeare shows both of them exhibiting the best and worst qualities of children (impetuousness, devotion, forgiveness, lack of control).

In bringing the Nurse and Friar Laurence together, Shakespeare brings together the two adult characters that have enough sway over Romeo and Juliet to put an end to the highly emotional fallout of Tybalt's death. Alas, the adults do not step in and protect the children, but instead conspire to bring them together. Because the children achieve their own desires, and no adult steps in to guide them, the play ends tragically.

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Romeo and Juliet

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