What warning does Friar Laurence give Romeo foreshadowing future events of Romeo and Juliet?

One warning that Friar Laurence gives Romeo that foreshadows future events of Romeo and Juliet is his statement, "Wisely and slow, they that run fast stumble." By saying these words, he is reminding Romeo to be careful of his rashness and all-consuming love. Friar Lawrence also states, "These violent delights have violent ends," which foreshadows how Romeo and Juliet's storm of emotions eventually lead to their violent ends.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In act 2, scene 3 of William Shakespeare's romantic tragedy Romeo and Juliet, Romeo goes to Friar Laurence early in the morning to tell him about Juliet, the new love in his life, and to ask the Friar to marry them as soon as possible. At first, Friar Laurence is confused about Romeo's visit, given the early hour and the jumble of thoughts pouring out of Romeo's mouth. The Friar thinks that Romeo has spent the night with Rosaline, a young woman with whom Romeo was utterly lovestruck and lovesick but who had no romantic interest in Romeo.

Once the question of Romeo's current love interest is resolved, the Friar takes Romeo to task for changing his mind about Rosaline so quickly, when just the day before, Romeo was weeping about his unrequited love for Rosaline.

"Thou chid'st me oft for loving Rosaline" (2.3.82), says Romeo, "And bad'st me bury love" (2.3.84). The Friar responds that he was merely chiding Romeo for doting on Rosaline. By telling Romeo to "bury love," he means for Romeo to forget about his infatuation with Rosaline but also not to jump so quickly from infatuation with one woman to infatuation with another, as he appears to have done.

FRIAR LAURENCE. Not in a grave
To lay one in, another out to have. (2.3.85–86)

The Friar makes an interesting if somewhat obscure reference to graves, which is the Friar's first foreshadowing of future events in the play regarding Romeo and Juliet's fate.

Later in the scene, Friar Laurence makes two more comments that more clearly and more directly foreshadow events in the play. In the first instance, although the Friar isn't convinced that he should marry Romeo and Juliet, he decides to do so for one particular reason: that "this alliance may so happy prove / To turn your households' rancour to pure love" (2.3.94–95). Friar Laurence believes that marrying Romeo and Juliet will put an end to the feud between the Capulets and the Montagues. Ultimately, it does end the feud, but not in the way that the Friar hoped it would.

In the second instance in this scene, Romeo urges the Friar to marry them as soon as possible. The Friar responds, "Wisely, and slow. They stumble that run fast" (2.3.97), but the Friar fails to take his own advice. It's the Friar's decision to marry Romeo and Juliet, and to do it as quickly as possible, that accelerates the action of the play which leads to Romeo and Juliet's deaths just two days later.

In act 2, scene 6, just before marrying Romeo and Juliet, Friar Laurence opens the scene in a positive way by saying, "So smile the heavens upon this holy act" (2.6.2). He then adds a not-so-positive remark that reflects his concern about the hasty marriage, "That after-hours with sorrow chide us not!" (2.6.2). This foreshadows the sorrow that does, indeed, "chide" not only Romeo and Juliet, but also everyone else in the play who is involved with them and their families.

Romeo tempts fate with his next speech. Overcome with his love for Juliet and caught up in the moment of their marriage, Romeo says that once they're married, he doesn't care what happens to them.

ROMEO. Do thou but close our hands with holy words,
Then love-devouring death do what he dare—
It is enough I may but call her mine.(2.6.6–8)

Friar Laurence responds, "These violent delights have violent ends / And in their triumph die" (2.6.9–10), meaning that the all-consuming love for each other that compels Romeo and Juliet to be married so quickly might just as quickly drive them to an equally "violent," all-consuming end.

Friar Laurence has a few more things to say that foreshadow coming events in the play. In act 3, scene 3, after Romeo kills Tybalt and runs away from the scene, Romeo seeks refuge with Friar Laurence. The first thing that Friar Laurence says to Romeo is that trouble seems to follow Romeo wherever he goes, which is definitely true.

FRIAR LAURENCE. Affliction is enamour’d of thy parts,
And thou art wedded to calamity. (3.3.2–3)

By "Thou art wedded to calamity," Friar Laurence isn't necessarily saying that Romeo's marriage to Juliet is a calamity, or that Juliet herself is a walking calamity, but that Romeo and misfortune seem to go though life hand in hand.

Friar Laurence then tells Romeo that Prince Escalus has banished him from Verona. Romeo falls to the floor "Blubbering and weeping, weeping and blubbering" (3.3.91) as the Nurse says, and then Romeo threatens to kill himself. The Friar scolds Romeo for even thinking about killing himself, and, in a sense, the Friar foreshadows events in the last scene of the play.

FRIAR LAURENCE. Hast thou slain Tybalt? Wilt thou slay thyself?
And slay thy lady that in thy life lives,
By doing damned hate upon thyself? (3.3.122–124)

Friar Laurence's final words on the matter foreshadow Romeo and Juliet's fate.

FRIAR LAURENCE. But, like a misbhav'd and sullen wench,
Thou pout'st upon thy fortune and thy love.
Take heed, take heed, for such die miserable. (3.3.149–151)

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

At critical points in the play, Friar Laurence advises restraint and cool consideration, though neither Romeo nor the other characters in the play are terribly good at either. “Wisely and slow, they stumble that run fast,” he tells Romeo after seeing Romeo practically bounce with joy at his agreement to marry Romeo and Juliet. Then three scenes later he cautions, “These violent delights have violent ends.” Romeo in particular proves the friar right.

Later in the play Romeo jumps into the duel between Mercutio and Tybalt, and inadvertently causes Mercutio’s death: “Why the devil came you between us?” scolds Mercutio, “I was hurt under your arm!” Romeo’s headstrong behavior, though well intended, causes a fatality. Later on, in Juliet’s tomb, distraught at seeing what he has every reason to believe is her dead body, he poisons himself, just moments too soon – Juliet wakes up almost as soon as he dies. Tragically, in both cases, he lets his storm of emotions “run fast”, and both times they lead to “violent ends”.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

As Romeo and Friar Laurence wait for Juliet to arrive so the young lovers can be married, the Friar utters a blessing on the marriage, saying, "So smile the heavens upon this holy act/ That after-hours with sorrow chide us not (2.6.1-2)!" Romeo has an arrogant response to this blessing, taunting sorrow and saying he can face anything as long as he has Juliet. Once he marries Juliet, he believes everything will be all right. When he scolds Romeo for this foolishness, the Friar says, "These violent delights have violent ends (2.6.9)."

With this line, and the small speech that follows it, the Friar is warning Romeo that much damage can come from someone being too eager and too wrapped up in a good thing. He cautions Romeo to "love moderately (2.6.14)" in order to avoid any trouble. He has no idea, of course, just how important this warning is, or how completely Romeo will ignore the advice. The tragic events to follow happen as a result of the rashness and all-consuming love of both Romeo and Juliet, eventually leading to their own "violent ends". If Romeo had heeded the Friar's words and slowed down a bit, both Romeo and Juliet might have thought more clearly about their actions and found a better way to proceed.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

At the end of Act II, scene iii, just after he has agreed to marry Romeo and Juliet, Friar Lawrence offers Romeo the following advice:

Wisely and slow; they stumble that run fast.

This line foreshadows most of the rest of the plot of the play concerning Romeo and Juliet as they each violate this advice time and time again. At almost every turn both Romeo and Juliet act impulsively without thought and risk their own lives and likely the lives of others. At the play's end, their emotional impulsivity gets the better of them when they each take their own life rather than thinking through the facts and evidence that reside in front of them. These are the tragic flaws of both Romeo and Juliet and Friar Lawrence comments on them very early in the play, foreshadowing their demise.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
Soaring plane image

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial