What theme might Friar Lawrence represent?

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shake99's profile pic

shake99 | Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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Working behind the scenes to try to solve a problem is a tempting thing to do, and this was how Friar Laurence tried to solve problems in Romeo and Juliet. However, not tackling a problem head-on is more likely to lead to greater problems. Everything blows up for Friar Laurence because his plans are sneaky.

mwestwood's profile pic

mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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While Friar Laurence is the voice of patience and wisdom, his own character does not exhibit these qualities. Instead, he is a meddler who hopes to alter fate, but who creates situations that are, at most, no better than those for which Romeo and Juliet seek his aid and advice.

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lhc | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

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Another way at looking at Friar Lawrence is as an irresponsible adult who should have known better.  This probably requires taking Shakespeare's play out of context a bit, in the sense that Romeo and Juliet were considered fairly close to adulthood in their time; Juliet was very close to being married off to Paris, so to say that she was just a child might be an oversimplification.  However, if one is to acknowledge how young those two really were, it might be safe to wonder why the friar felt obligated to "help" Romeo, and how in the world he thought the "Juliet faking her death" plan could possibly work.  Additionally, could the friar be brought in on some sort of manslaughter charge?  And how do the Montague and Capulet families feel about his interference?  As a parent, you could probably make an argument that he was out of line in his actions. 

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litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Friar Lawrence is the father figure and guidance for Romeo.  He seems to me to represent how adults always think they know what is right for teens to do, and yet they don’t usually know the whole story.  Friar Lawrence causes Juliet’s death and Romeo’s too, because he was distracted by the thought of ending the feud and wasn’t really acting in the interest of the kids.

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wannam | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

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Friar Lawrence might also represent the dangers of interfering. He marries Romeo and Juliet in secret which leads to a host of new problems. He sends Romeo to Mantua where Romeo becomes unreachable. He gives Juliet a poison to make her appear dead. Finally, he leaves Juliet in the tomb with Romeo's dead body to get help. It seems that all of the Friar's plans fall apart. We could say this is simply fate or chance and not really the Friar's fault, but it still points out the dangers if interfering in a situation. We might cause more harm than good just as Friar Lawrence did. 

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tinicraw | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Friar Lawrence represents logic and reason for Romeo as his mentor. Romeo's father is still alive and available to him, but Romeo feels better talking about his private life with Friar Lawrence instead. This makes Friar Lawrence Romeo's main father-figure. Fathers are supposed to lead, guide, and protect their children. Friar Lawrence does his best to do this.  He is also there when Romeo is unreasonable and calms him down by helping him to solve problems. He is Romeo's spiritual and temporal guide throughout the play. He takes upon himself the consequences of Romeo's actions and does his best to help him whenever he can.  Sadly, Fate is against the two lovers, so Friar Lawrence doesn't have much of a chance to succeed with any of his ideas to help the kids be together.

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angel-girl | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) Salutatorian

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If you notice, Friar Lawrence was not blamed by the Prince.

"We have known thee for a holy man"

This shows that in the end, he is still considered wise and "righteous".

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florine | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) Valedictorian

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         Friar Lawrence is thought highly of by the Nurse after he's made a speech and berated Romeo for his "womanish tears." She looks up to him because he has knowledge and therefore, although the situation is past bearing, can talk Romeo into evincing a more forbearing attitude: "O, what learning is!"(3.3.158).      

       He has sometimes been considered to stand for Roger Bacon, the well-known doctor, who was also a friar. Can Romeo and Juliet's fate be accounted for by the friar's mistaken belief (an error of judgement) that he could rescue the two lovers from disgrace or even violent death or is the tragic ending simply due to fate owing to the delay of the reception of the letter and to the plague? There is room for doubt.

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