What are 3 ways Friar Lawrence causes the death of Romeo and Juliet?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are two other ways in which Friar Lawrence is certainly instrumental in the death of Juliet.  In the final act of Romeo and Juliet, Friar Lawrence secretly arrives at the Capulet family catacombs, knowing that the potion which Juliet has taken is about to wear off and return her to consciousness. But, before he enters the tomb, he finds Balthasar asleep outside the tomb; so, he rushes in only to find Romeo  and Paris dead. 

  • When Juliet awakens, she asks him where Romeo is, but the Friar first responds, "I hear some noise."  He tells Juliet to come away; Juliet refuses to leave Romeo whom she discovers has taken poison.  In a cowardly move, Friar Lawrence runs, saying " I dare no longer stay" knowing that he is breaking the law.As a consequence of his selfish departure, Juliet is left alone with Romeo; she finds his dagger and kills herself. 
  • He could have contacted Romeo's servant Balthasar and made certain that word reached Romeo about Juliet's being alive.

Because of Friar Lawrence's irresponsibility, negligence, and  interference with matters relevant to the families, Romeo and Juliet perish. Not only are his actions irresponsible, but they are a violation of his vows as a priest:

  1. His earlier action of giving Juliet the sleeping potion is clearly outside the bounds of his religious vows which forbid personal involvement in secular matters. 
  2. His performing of the marriage of Romeo and Juliet is clearly a violation of Canon Law as banns must be posted for engaged couples for six months prior to their marriage in the Catholic faith of which the Verona, Italy, residents are members.  Had the proper procedure been followed regarding this marriage, the parents probably would have forbidden it.  If, however, they agreed, then Tybalt would understand why Romeo said he loved him and Mercutio may not have died as Tybalt's temper may not have flared as it did.  Indeed, Friar Lawrence's web of deceit entangled many.


pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Here are the three things that Friar Lawrence did that, in my opinion, led most clearly to the deaths of Romeo and Juliet.

First, he did not tell anyone that the two of them were in love.  He surely could have told their families -- I do not think what Romeo told him was done in confession so Friar Lawrence could have told Romeo's family or Juliet's.

Second, he married the two of them.

Third, he is the one who came up with the idea of having Juliet take the potion so as to appear dead.

Because of all of these (closely related) things, you can say that Friar Lawrence caused the two lovers to die.