At the end of Romeo and Juliet, who does the Prince suggest should be punished and why?

"A glooming peace this morning with it brings; The sun, for sorrow, will not show his head: Go hence, to have more talk of these sad things; Some shall be pardon'd, and some punished: For never was a story of more woe Than this of Juliet and her Romeo."

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The Prince does not say some should be pardoned and some punished; he says, "Some shall be pardoned and some punished." This is an important distinction. Should implies a moral imperative; shall simply asserts what will happen in the future. The Prince does not issue a sentence against any of the parties. After hearing the situation from Friar Lawrence, he absolves him of any guilt in the matter by saying, "We still have known thee for a holy man." With that, he moves on to question Romeo's attendant, Balthasar, and County Paris's Page. Since Paris was murdered by Romeo, no one can be punished for that crime. Since Romeo and Juliet each committed suicide, no one can be punished by law for their deaths.

The Prince then calls forth Montague and Capulet, "these enemies." He says, "See what a scourge is laid upon your hate." He means that the punishment for their feud lies before them in the form of their dead children. But he doesn't stop there. He notes that he didn't do enough to correct the ongoing hostility between the two clans, and thus he is also responsible. For that, he has "lost a brace of kinsmen." He declares, "All are punished." The "all" referred to includes the extended families of the Montagues and Capulets as well as himself.

The Prince pardons Friar Lawrence for his role in the deaths. He does not intend to punish anyone. The deaths that have already occurred are punishment enough for the Montagues, the Capulets, and the Prince. Readers and/or viewers of the play must decide if they agree with the Prince's verdict. Many might believe that Friar Lawrence showed a distinct lack of wisdom in how he counseled the two infatuated lovers. Yet how does a Prince punish such a "crime"? The natural consequences that will flow in terms of his own remorse and his reputation will be severe. Capulet was verbally abusive toward Juliet, which isn't a crime the government—then or now—punishes. The natural consequence for treating her that way was losing her. The "crimes" committed by those who are still alive at the end of the play are not the types of crimes that can be punished by government, but, as the Prince declares, "all are punished."

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Prince Escalus, after hearing the complete story of what happened, berates the parents of Romeo and Juliet when he says, "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 punish'd." The Prince says the feud between the families caused the deaths, but he's also responsible because he allowed it to continue for so long that he ended up losing those related to him, such as Mercutio.

When he says that some people will be pardoned, the Prince is referring to Friar Laurence, the Nurse, and any other people who helped Romeo and Juliet behind their parents' backs. The Prince doesn't legally punish the Friar because he reads Romeo's letter that confirms the Friar's story. He also feels the Friar's actions were a result of a higher purpose in hoping to stop the feud by marrying Romeo and Juliet. When he says some are punished, Prince Escalus is referring to all of the members of the families who have perpetuated the hate and violence through the years, continuing the feud. The punishment of the families is the loss of their only children. The Prince wants to finally end the violence and the fighting.

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