Friar Lawrence serves many purposes in the play Romeo and Juliet, written by Shakespeare in the 1590’s. Although at first glance Friar Lawrence may be dismissed as a minor character in the story, he is essential to the development and the outcome of the play. The Friar has a very close bond with Romeo and has an interest in bringing the Capulet and Montague feud to an end. He keeps the action moving throughout the play by helping Romeo and Juliet resolve their problems and encouraging and giving them advice. The role Friar Lawrence plays helps you understand the play by giving you a different perspective. Although his name is not in the title, Friar Lawrence is one of the most complex characters in the story, having many different roles. The Friar is a mentor to Romeo and Juliet, the sole religious figure of the play, and a very scheming man, all of these are indispensible factors leading to the outcome of the story.
Throughout the story Friar Lawrence is a mentor to Romeo and Juliet and has a close bond with both of them. He considers Romeo to be somewhat like a pupil and Romeo considers him someone he can confide in. Friar Lawrence encourages Romeo and Juliet during the story and helps them with their struggles. Both Romeo and Juliet feel they can trust him with the secrecy and importance of their relationship. He is a kindhearted man and although he is giving advice and help to the couple he does not believe that it is true love due to how infatuated Romeo had been over Rosaline days before. “Is Rosaline, whom thou didst love so dear, so soon forsaken? Young men’s love then lies not truly in their hearts, but in their eyes.” (Romeo and Juliet Act 2 Scene 3) Friar Lawrence, despite the fact that he does not believe it is true love, finds reason to help them begin their journey. Not only does he help them because he admires both of them, he does it to try and mend the violent and ongoing feud between both of their families, the Capulet family and the Montague The irony in this situation is that in thinking he will be helping the feud, he marries Romeo and Juliet in secrecy so that no body may find out. Although in his role as a mentor he may make a few mistakes he does it out of kindness, love and high hopes of finally ending the feud.
In his role as a mentor and all of the roles he plays in this story he carries his religious beliefs at all times. Being the sole religious figure in the play makes him a complex character and causes him to carry a lot of the weight of the development of the play. All of his actions help move the play along. He preforms the marriage for Romeo and Juliet, not only being someone they confide and look up to, also someone who has the power to bond them as a couple forever. This is a big part of his religious factor. In Romeo and Juliet’s eyes he has just married them and guided them but Friar Lawrence is also marrying them to end the strife between their families. This is controversial because of whether or not he had his best religious thoughts at heart or he was solely doing it to end the feud. His religious intentions of the marriage were never truly fulfilled because of the troubles surrounding the marriage that made it almost impossible to stop the feud. Ironically, before he married them he prayed nothings happens later due to this marriage that makes him regret his decision in doing it. “So smile the heavens upon this holy act That after-hours with sorrow chide us not.” (Romeo and Juliet Act 2 Scene 6)
The scheming role of Friar Lawrence contrasts the kindhearted mentor he also plays in this story. His scheming and planning had a large impact on the outcome of the play. Although his intentions of marrying Romeo and Juliet were to bring happiness and also religious intents, he also wanted to bring the feuding families together which was his first scheming factor in the play. He could bring happiness to the couple but he also believed this would mend what had been going on for so many years. The marriage is not the only scheme the Friar devised. He also planned Juliet’s “death” and gave her the things she needed to go forward with it. With much miscommunication and a series of unfortunate events The Friar’s plan goes awry and immensely impacts the tragic outcome of the play. “Unhappy fortune! By my brotherhood, the letter was not nice but full of charge, of dear import, and the neglecting it may do much danger” (Romeo and Juliet Act 5 Scene 2) Romeo does not receive the letter Friar Lawrence sent to him and therefore does not know the position he is about to put himself in. Although Friar Lawrence very heavily influenced the tragic ending there is a silver lining; the death of a Montague and a Capulet forced the two families to open their eyes and see what the feud has cost them.
Friar Lawrence has an impact on many major aspects in the story of Romeo and Juliet. He not only has an impact on the star-crossed lovers but also on their feuding families. The Friar pushes the plot forward in the play and keeps the action on going. Although a lot of misfortune comes from the decisions made by Friar Lawrence, he keeps the story interesting and is an imperative part of the play. He plays many roles in the story, all of which dramatically influence the ultimate outcome of Romeo and Juliet.
Shakespeare, William. “Act 2 Scene 3.” Romeo and Juliet. Ed. Roma Gill. Oxford; Oxford UP, 1992. 42. Print.
Shakespeare, William. “Act 2 Scene 6.” Romeo and Juliet. Ed. Roma Gill. Oxford; Oxford UP, 1992. 55. Print.
Shakespeare, William. “Act 5 Scene 2.” Romeo and Juliet. Ed. Roma Gill. Oxford; Oxford UP, 1992. 104. Print