What is one thing that we can claim from looking at Friar Laurence's speech in Act II, Scene 3 of Romeo and Juliet? Does the speech provide foreshadowing or something significant about the Friar?
Friar Laurence's speech at the beginning of Act II, Scene 3 reveals two important things about the Friar and also helps establish one of Shakespeare's themes in the play. First, the Friar's speech indicates that he understands the properties of many of the weeds and flowers that he is gathering in his garden before Romeo shows up. This ability foreshadows later events when Friar Laurence mixes a potion which makes Juliet appear to be dead. The audience knows from this scene that it is quite possible for the Friar to concoct such a chemical. He understands that plants contain both medicine and poison, and that one simple flower, while smelling sweet, may also cause a fatal overdose:
Within the infant rind of this weak flower
Poison hath residence and medicine power:
For this, being smelt, with that part cheers each
Being tasted, stays all senses with the heart.
Two such opposèd kings encamp them still
In man as well as herbs—grace and rude will;
And where the worser is predominant,
Full soon the canker death eats up that plant.