Adv. English 10
Romeo and Juliet Reflection 2
Friar Laurence and Nurse: father and mother, wise guardians, trusted companions. Or are they reckless and lenient crones, set on personal gain? They have spent their lives with Romeo and Juliet, watching them grow and guiding them along their paths of life. But now they allow these star-crossed lovers to marry, though the know nothing of the other but a few whispered words and a night’s passion. Are these sages to be admired and sought after, or fools at which to scoff and avoid?
First, Let us analyze Friar Laurence. The Friar is first alluded to by Romeo as he leaves the infamous Balcony scene; “Hence will I to my ghostly father’s cell, His help to crave, and my dear hap to tell” (2.2.188-189).
Here Romeo refers to the friar as his “ghostly father” meaning his spiritual father, but he leaves to tell the Friar of his troubles, as he would to a father. This leads us to assume that Friar Laurence serves as Romeo’s father figure, particularly after Romeo’s real father demonstrates his own ineptitude at dealing with his son in act 1. However, as a new scene dawns, we see another purpose to Friar Laurence and that is his portentousness. The Friar’s opening speech is riddled with elements of foreshadowing, when he relates people to plants. But the Friar is rattled from his soliquoy by Romeo and kids him about being out late, again reflecting his role as a father figure. Furthermore, when Romeo approaches Friar Laurence about his intention to marry Juliet, the Friar chides him about his former affections for Rosaline;”God pardon sin! wast thou with Rosaline?” (2.3.140).
... follows after Romeo, Juliet, and Friar Laurence exit from the stage? * They get married Note Scene 6 takes place in Friar Laurence's cell. Friar Laurence and Romeo come with ... that she will not. Lady Capulet replies that Juliet's father is coming, so Juliet ought to tell him that she won't marry Paris, ...
The friar’s words inform us that this is not the first time Romeo has been to see him over his fiery emotions. But as the scene progresses, we see that the friar knows Romeo well enough to marry them, for he is determined t be married and will do so whether Friar Laurence performs the ceremony or not. Again, this demonstrates the Friar’s intimate knowledge of Romeo’s character. However, the Friar, in his love for Romeo, seems to quick to allow these two lovers to be married, and leaves us to question whether or not he is harboring political ambitions when he agrees to this wedding.
Another character whom we question in allowing this wedding is Juliet’s Nurse. Juliet looks to Nurse as a mother in the same manner that Romeo looks to Friar Laurence as a father, and we learn in act 1 that the Nurse has raised Juliet far more than her biological mother; “Even or odd, of all days in the year, Come Lammas-eve at night shall she be fourteen…. And she was wean’d,–I never shall forget it,–
Of all the days of the year, upon that day:” (1.3.240-242, 256-258).
The nurse progresses through the story, keeping after Juliet, and running a message for her, all in all carrying for her as a mother would. The nurse, however, also makes what can be taken as an error in judgment. The nurse believes Romeo and Juliet to be truly in love, as so, like Friar Laurence, condones the wedding. Through these actions, the Nurse proves herself to be a foil to Friar Laurence.
Therefore, we are lead to believe that, while well-intentioned, Friar Laurence and the Nurse both make an error in judgment, due to their intimacy with Romeo and Juliet. Friar Laurence serves as Romeo’s father figure, and agrees to marry Romeo and Juliet out of this love for Romeo and perhaps even hidden political aspirations. The nurse, likewise, is like a mother to Juliet, and believes that this girl that she loves is in love with Romeo, so consents to their union. So Friar Laurence and the Nurse, both essential characters to this tragedy, are antagonists in the marriage of these ill-fated lovers, and are both due some responsibility for the tragedy they later befall.