What are three reasons why Friar Laurence is to blame for the deaths of the lovers in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet?

There are many reasons one could list as to why Friar Laurence is at least partially to blame for the deaths of Romeo and Juliet. These are likely the three most popular reason given: 1) he agreed to marry them, 2) he failed to get the message to Romeo about Juliet having taken a sleeping potion, and 3) he left the distraught Juliet alone after learning of Romeo’s death.

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It's important to remember that Juliet is a 13-year-old girl when the play opens. She looks to the Friar as a trusted and reliable source of guidance. When she shows up for her marriage, the good Friar wastes no time:

Come, come with me, and we will make short work,
For, by your leaves, you shall not stay alone
Till Holy Church incorporate two in one. (2.6.35–37)

For a holy man to guide a (very) young girl in deliberately disobeying her parents and to hide the truth from them himself is not an example of providing wise (or holy) counsel.

Friar Laurence also uses the couple as a pawn piece to bring about peace between the families. In act 2, scene 3, the Friar is scoffing at Romeo for so quickly forgetting his feelings for Rosaline. Yet he seems to have a sudden change of heart in these lines:

In one respect I’ll thy assistant be,
For this alliance may so happy prove
To turn your households’ rancor to pure love. (2.3.93–95)

He goes on to caution Romeo to move slowly, but his own involvement...

(The entire section contains 3 answers and 1041 words.)

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Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on November 14, 2019
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