Is Friar Lawrence a Good Man, Evil Character or Simply a Misguided and Bumbling Individual?
Friar Lawrence plays a strong central character throughout the play, Romeo and Juliet. The Friar is linked to both the Capulet’s and the Montague’s through religion and the church. Friar Lawrence is presented as a “holy man” who is trusted and respected by the community because he is a priest.
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Friar Lawrence is an advisor and close friend to Romeo. This is apparent when Romeo addresses the Friar as “father” and Friar Lawrence addresses Romeo as his “son. ” Romeo goes to Friar Lawrence for help and consolation, for example, when Romeo speaks about Juliet for the first time, Friar Lawrence speaks to him about Rosaline.
This shows that their relationship is close as they seem to know a lot about each other and becomes more apparent throughout the play as he influences Romeo’s decisions. This shows the irresponsibility of the Friar as he has broken the stereotype of a regular Friar because he does not always seem to speak to Romeo as a Friar but more so as a friend. Romeo asks Friar Lawrence “that thou consent to marry us to-day. ” Friar Lawrence thinks at first that Romeo is moving on too quickly from Rosaline and does not think he is doing the right thing. Young men’s love then lies not truly in their hearts, but in their eyes. ” Friar Lawrence’s advice seems to be good because he believes that Romeo just says that he loves anyone or says it when he thinks he is in love until the next woman comes along. A Friar would not usually say that to anyone and this is showing that their relationship is unprofessional. Whilst Friars do advise people, this seems to have been unprofessional. Friar Lawrence quickly changes his attitude and decides to unite Romeo and Juliet in marriage. He believes that this will end the feud between their two families. For this alliance may so happy, to turn your households’ rancour to pure love. ” Friar Lawrence’s first motive was to create peace for their families. Friar Lawrence at the same time could have also thought of uniting Romeo and Juliet to boost his own status in Verona. He could have wanted to portray himself in a more respectable light to show that he ended the vendetta between the Montague and Capulet families. In secret, Romeo and Juliet marry, without their parent’s permission. Friar Lawrence is seen as a figure that is a highly trustworthy character of great importance.
By performing the marriage, he is keeping secrets from the two wealthiest and most powerful families in Verona, which would be seen as a sin for a Friar. In going ahead with the clandestine marriage, it shows that he can be devious and untrustworthy in order to protect himself as he does not want the blame if anything goes wrong. When Romeo killed Tybalt, his punishment was banishment and was ordered to Mantua. Romeo goes to Friar Lawrence for more guidance on what to do. “Go get thee to thy chamber, hence and comfort her. Friar Lawrence encourages Romeo to go to Juliet’s home and consummate their marriage, knowing that the differences between the families are now inconsolable. Friar Lawrence knew that if Romeo was to get caught at the Capulet’s home with Juliet, Romeo would have been killed and this demonstrates that he was willing to sacrifice Romeo’s life by sending him there in order to make sure that the marriage was not annulled. Friar Lawrence was making sure it happened so that the plan in his mind was going to work. He thinks he will still gain power and recognition so everyone is happy in the future.
Friar Lawrence is shown as a good man as Romeo and Juliet are grateful for his help in making sure they spend their wedding night together. However, giving this advice to Romeo can also illustrate that he is a bumbling individual because he is putting Romeo’s life in danger. Friar Lawrence devised another plan for Juliet to help her escape from her father and the arranged marriage. “And if thou dar’st, I’ll give thee remedy. ” Friar Lawrence plans on giving Juliet a drug that will make her sleep for 48 hours, but at the same time, make her seem dead.
The Friar also tells her that he will write to Romeo to inform him of the new plan. Friar Lawrence’s egotistical attitude seems to have caused more grief than comfort. By suggesting that Juliet drinks the potion, he shows a more selfish side to his personality. I believe that the Friars intensions are still good at this point, however he could be trying to save himself from the situation as he may have doubts about the upcoming events, showing that there is a very unforgiving side to him. Friar Lawrence has to be devious in order to carry out the new idealistic plan.
As a priest, he should not lie in any situation. Friar Lawrence asks “come, is the Bride ready to go to church? ” to the Capulet family. He already knew full well that the wedding was not going to go ahead, however by saying this to the family, he is pretending that he knows nothing and gets prepared to bury Juliet. This shows how deceptive the Friar can be as he remains very composed throughout the day, which only reinforces his superiority and confidence amongst the community. As Juliet awakes from her planned long sleep, she asks Friar Lawrence “where is my Romeo? ” He tells her he “lies dead. At this point, Friar Lawrence would have been very worried about his actions and he tries to cover up the lies to fix what happened. He asks Juliet to “come, I’ll dispose of thee, among a sisterhood of holy Nuns. ” Friar Lawrence is afraid of his actions and of being exposed as a failure and liar. Proposing this to Juliet would have been the last desperate attempt to help him remain in a good light and not ruin his reputation for good. Friar Lawrence asked Juliet to become a Nun to forget about Romeo and start a new life, however, I believe that he only suggested this because he panicked and is afraid that the secrets will be unfolded.
In Friar Lawrence proposing this, it shows he has a weak side to his personality as he is portrayed as a bumbling individual who shows concerns, only for himself. Friar Lawrence may have got involved in Romeo and Juliet’s plans so much that he found it hard to let go and thought he could keep helping. The Friar knew in his mind that it was wrong to help Romeo run away with his lover, (Juliet) however, because he was more than a priest to Romeo and Juliet, he knew they were in a desperate situation and did genuinely want to help.
To conclude, Friar Lawrence was a good man. Friar Lawrence played a controlling role into being responsible for the marriage, all aspects of the plans, meetings/reunions and the potion. The Friars motive never intended for the deaths of Romeo and Juliet to occur as he did come across to be genuine to both families (Montague’s and Capulet’s) by wanting to end the feud. Each narrow minded plan was planned to allow, the loved up teenagers (Romeo and Juliet) to be happy together as they were hopeful that their families would be united by their love.
Friar Lawrence started off being honourable to both Romeo and Juliet as he could tell they were both in love, however as their plans go off track, one by one, he had to abuse his trusted role more and more. Friar Lawrence’s plans were intelligent because he used his knowledge in medicines and flowers to provide the potion for Juliet. With his experience of herbs and remedies, it enabled him to carry out the potion plan and without him; Juliet would not have been able to fake her own death. Some people may feel that this was a cunning and calculative plan. It can e viewed that the plan was evil as well as the character of Friar Lawrence. In my opinion, l think that the Friar wanted to help and tried to rectify matters as they went wrong to the best of his abilities, he did not think clearly about the consequences of the plans of what potentially could have gone wrong and only thought about the positive outcomes. This could be because he never had the time to sit and think though it, however l thought his plans were simple and effective. Friar Lawrence always wanted to “do the right thing” since his reputation was paramount to him.
In contrast to being a good character, Friar Lawrence does show an evil side to him. His behavioural response when he finds Juliet in the tomb, for example, instead of remaining with her and preventing her death, he flees when he hears the sound of people coming. In his actions, it shows his fear of accepting responsibility and his selfishness. Although Friar Lawrence’s plans seemed achievable at the time, he was naive in his assessment of the feud between the Montague and Capulet households and he hadn’t reflected fully on the implications of Romeo and Juliet’s secret and concealed marriage.