What are some of the similarities and differences between Friar Lawrence and the Nurse in Act III of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet? Which one is more loyal?

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tinicraw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Friar Lawrence and the Nurse are the only two adults in Verona who know that Romeo and Juliet are married by Act III. These adults have a huge responsibility placed on their shoulders as they direct and advise the young lovers. At first, the Nurse goes along with being Juliet's messenger because that is her employment and she loves Juliet. Friar Lawrence, however, conducts the marriage in order to help the community and to bring the warring families together. However, the Nurse is the first to curse Romeo's name when she finds out that Tybalt is dead; the Friar remains true to the young couple and to their marriage. Then, after Lord Capulet threatens Juliet to marry Paris or go live in the streets at the end of Act III, the Nurse is the one who advises Juliet to forget Romeo and to marry Paris. The Nurse is trustworthy because she keeps Juliet's secret marriage to herself, but as far as loyalty is concerned, her loyalty is to the Capulets and to Juliet. Friar Lawrence, on the other hand, stays true to the idea that Romeo and Juliet's marriage will bring about social change, so he continues to find ways to help the couple be together. It is interesting to not that after the Nurse advises Juliet to marry Paris, that is when Juliet stops confiding in her as a confidant and says, "Go, counselor;/ Thou and my bosom henceforth shall be twain" (III.v.250-251).

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Romeo and Juliet

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