Why should Friar Laurence be pardoned?  

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poetrymfa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Friar Laurence should be pardoned due to the fact that he was brave enough to stick around and tell the truth after Romeo and Juliet are discovered dead in the Capulet crypt by their families. Friar Laurence knows that he very likely could be held liable for the deaths of the two, as he was privy to Juliet's plan to fake her own death and even married the young lovers, aiding in their secret and forbidden relationship. Despite the risk to his career, his reputation, his freedom, and/or his life, Friar Laurence comes forth to defend the lovers' actions as extensions of the intended truce between the rivaling families. Friar Laurence states:

I am the greatest, able to do least,

Yet most suspected, as the time and place

Doth make against me of this direful murder;

And here I stand, both to impeach and purge

Myself condemned and myself excused.

He goes on to explain exactly what transpired, representing the lovers as noble and faithful spouses when he just as easily could have denied all knowledge of the situation in order to save himself. Friar Laurence welcomes the punishment that may come:

...and, if aught in this

Miscarried by my fault, let my old life

Be sacrificed, some hour before his time,

Unto the rigour of severest law.

Recognizing this act of bravery, the Prince acknowledges Friar Laurence as "a holy man" and does not seem to pass judgment on him; this new knowledge of the secret lives of their children compels the Capulets and Montagues to make good use of this tragedy, and they, thus, commit themselves to peace. Had Friar Laurence not come forward, this "ceasefire" may never have happened. Thus, he deserves to be pardoned for creating some positive outcome under incredibly sad circumstances and for risking his life to do so.