Should the Nurse and Friar Lawerence be considered as confidants in Romeo and Juliet?  

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mercut1469 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

A confidant is a close friend or associate that can be confided in and told important private matters and problems. In Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet the Nurse and Friar Lawrence are the only characters that know of the love between the two young people until the very last scene. They can definitely be considered confidants to Romeo and Juliet because they are not only privy to the intimate relationship but also offer suggestions for the problems which arise through the course of the play. By the end, the audience may realize, however, that the two older people have failed in their roles.

The Nurse is Juliet's closest companion. In Act I, Scene 5, she is the one who learns that Romeo is a Montague. Thus, from the beginning she knows that Juliet is interested in Romeo. In Act II, after Romeo has proposed to Juliet, the Nurse is sent to find out the marriage arrangements. She is excited for Juliet and heaps praise on Romeo:

Though his face be better than any man’s, yet his leg
excels all men’s, and for a hand and a foot and a
body, though they be not to be talked on, yet they
are past compare. He is not the flower of courtesy,
but I’ll warrant him as gentle as a lamb.
When things begin to unravel for Juliet after the brawl in Act III, Scene 1, she automatically turns to the Nurse for advice. Mercutio and Tybalt have been killed and Romeo is banished. Lord Capulet has arranged for Juliet to marry Paris. The Nurse advises her to forget Romeo and marry the Count. She goes back on her earlier praise of Romeo to convince the girl. She says,
Then, since the case so stands as now it doth,
I think it best you married with the County.
O, he’s a lovely gentleman!
Romeo’s a dishclout to him.
This, of course, is not the advice Juliet wants so she condemns the Nurse and figuratively ends the relationship. She says,
Go, counselor.
Thou and my bosom henceforth shall be twain.
She then turns to Friar Lawrence who has been a confidant to both her and Romeo. The Friar concocts the plan for Juliet to take a potion he has mixed to fake her death. The plan ultimately fails miserably and leads directly to the double suicide.
The audience must assume that the Friar has been a confidant to Romeo for quite awhile. He is the first person Romeo turns to after he falls in love with Juliet. In Act II, Scene 3, Romeo asks the Friar to perform the marriage ceremony. Although he consistently tells Romeo to "love moderately" he agrees to marry the two young lovers who have known each other less than 24 hours. He rationalizes the decision by hoping it will bring an end to the feud.
The Nurse and the Friar fail in their roles as confidants to their much younger progeny. Instead of allowing the couple to rush into a doomed marriage, they should have counseled them to first explain things to their parents. The Nurse could have helped Juliet come up with another solution at the end of Act III. The Friar should have known better than to come up with a such a wild plan. In the end, he admits his guilt in the tragedy:
I am the greatest, able to do least,
Yet most suspected, as the time and place
Doth make against me, of this direful murder.
And here I stand, both to impeach and purge
Myself condemnèd and myself excused.
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Romeo and Juliet

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