At the end of Romeo and Juliet, who will be punished after the death of Romeo and Juliet, and who will be pardoned?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

At the end of Act V, Prince Escalus, who has learned of the tragic deaths of the two young lovers, announces,

Capulet, Montague,
See what a scourge is laid upon your hate,
That heaven finds means to kill your joys with love!
And I, for winking at you, discords too,
Have lost a brace of kinsmen. All are punish'd. (5.3.302-306)

Further, he adds,

Some shall be pardon'd, and some punished  (5.3.320)

The prince first says that they are all punished because Romeo and Juliet, two young people of nobility have died.  Their loss and the loss of others such as Mercutio and Tybalt will be sorely felt by the houses of Capulet, Montague, and Paris, as well as Prince Escalus. However, in addition to the heartache of losing loved ones, others such as the Nurse and Friar Laurence have been closely involved. 

While the Nurse will probably be pardoned for not having told the Capulets that Juliet has been married Romeo, she is guilty of not having talked to them in order to avert Juliet's crisis over the prospect of being forced to marry Paris.  On the other hand, the poor apothecary who has sold Romeo the poison will probably be arrested since what he has done is illegal.  Likewise, Friar Laurence has broken the law as he has been in the catacombs past the curfew; in addition, he has provided Juliet with a potion which could have killed her. At the least, it has put her into the tomb, and it has deceived the Capulets into believing that their daughter is dead. However, the Prince absolves the priest, calling him "a holy man" in line 270 of Act V, Scene 3. Instead, he blames the feuding families. So, the Capulets and the Montagues may receive some punishment for having continued their feuds..

AtlLitTeacher | Student

Shakespeare doesn't tell us specifically who will be punished and who will be pardoned at the end of Romeo and Juliet.  In Act 5, Scene 3, Lines 291-295, the Prince says, "Where be these enemies? Capulet.  Montague./ See what a scourge is laid upon your hate,/ That heaven finds means to kill your joys with love./  And I, for winking at your discords too,/ Have lost a brace of kinsmen.  All are punished."  A little while later, in Act 5, Scene 3, Lines 307-310, he says, "Go hence, to have more talk of these sad things;/ Some shall be pardoned, and some punished;/ For never was a story of more woe/ Than this of Juliet and her Romeo."  These are the last lines of the play.

So we know that, in the sense that so many people are now dead, all the characters are punished with grief, but we don't know who will be punished and who will be pardoned by the Prince.  

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Romeo and Juliet

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