Why did Romeo write a suicide note to his father in Romeo and Juliet?

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We know from the start of the play, when Lord Montague questions Benvolio about Romeo's lovelorn behavior, that Lord Montague cares deeply about his son. Romeo has returned to Verona at the end of the play to see Juliet's grave and kill himself, but he also realizes this will be very upsetting to his father. After all, his mother—his father's wife—has just died of grief over Romeo's banishment. Romeo therefore leaves a letter with Balthasar explaining his decision to his father.

Romeo is usually very impulsive and single minded, so writing the letter shows how much he loves his father—though not enough to restrain him from suicide—and how much he wishes his father to know what happened and why his son has died.

The letter is an important plot device as well. It confirms the friar's story of the secret marriage and the other events that occurred, ultimately helping the Capulets and Montagues to end their feud.

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Romeo was going through so much that no one but a few people knew about, and only Juliet could really understand.  His friends and family (save Friar Laurence) knew about his unrequitted love for Rosaline, but hadn't a clue that he was in love with another woman.

Leaving a suicide note would do a couple of things.  First, it would explain the reasoning behind his decision.  If they just found him dead by his own hand with no explanation, they might think it was over Rosaline.  He most likely wanted them to know the full truth.

A second reason for leaving the note would be to show his parents what the family feud has done; not only the lives taken by the enemies' swords, but the lives torn apart by being forced to keep secrets that would otherwise have led to them being disowned by their own families.

A suicide note to his parents was important for Romeo.  He killed himself because of his deep grief over Juliet's supposed death, but he didn't want the reasons behind his death to go unnoticed.

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