The setting of Act V, Scene 2 is Friar Laurence's cell. The scene is a short one, but it is crucial to the outcome of the play. Friar John, who Laurence sent to Mantua with news of the plot to fake Juliet's death and reunite the two lovers, returns with the unwelcome news that he was unable to get into Mantua because town officials "sealed up" the house where he was staying out of fears that one of the people living there might have plague:
I could not send it—here it is again—
Nor get a messenger to bring it thee,
So fearful were they of infection.
Laurence is very alarmed, and immediately asks John to fetch a crowbar for him. He plans to go to the Capulet family crypt to be there when Juliet awakes. His plan goes further awry when Balthasar arrives in Mantua to tell Romeo that he has seen the "dead" Juliet laid to rest. While it was hardly his fault, John's failure to deliver the letter spells doom for Romeo and Juliet.