What theme is contributed to by the characters of Friar Lawrence and Count Paris?

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In a world pervaded by violence and bitterness, the characters of Friar Laurence and Count Paris seem to represent a theme of optimism and hope amidst the tragedy of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. When he is first approached by Romeo about marrying Juliet, Friar Laurence is initially hesitant, but then comes to the realization that marrying the son of Montague and the daughter of Capulet will end the violent feud between the families. In Act III, Scene 3, the Friar says, "For this alliance may so happy prove/To turn your households' rancor to pure love."

Even after the deadly fight which opens Act III and Romeo is banished, the Friar remains optimistic about the future as he advises the distraught Romeo to "sojourn" in Mantua until some time passes and the Friar is able to "blaze" the marriage, gain a "pardon" from Prince Escalus, and bring Romeo home "With twenty hundred thousand times more joy." And again, after he convinces Juliet to fake her death with a potion, he believes that the young couple will regain happiness when Romeo recovers Juliet from the tomb and the two can go off to Mantua to live happily ever after. Although things turn out badly in the end, the Friar's optimism and hopeful attitude cannot be denied.

Likewise, Count Paris is optimistic and hopeful about the future. He seems to legitimately love Juliet and is eager to make her his wife. He believes that Juliet is a perfect match for him, obviously because the two families come from the same social class. The Nurse even refers to Paris as "valiant" and a "flower." Indeed, the Nurse believes that Juliet could be very happy with Paris, judging by her words in Act I, Scene 3, and later in Act III, Scene 5. When Juliet is supposedly dead in Act IV, Scene 5, Paris is devastated, calling her his "love" and his "life." In Act V, Scene 3, he further demonstrates this love for Juliet as he pays his respects at the Capulet tomb by spreading flowers and scented water. Only someone who had hope for a bright future would have shown so much grief over the loss of Juliet. 

 

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