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Responsibility ? Essay, Research Paper

By Oliver Palmer 10A (ollee@untergrund.org)

?No pulse shall keep his native progress, but surcease. No warmth, no breath, shall testify thou livest. And in this borrowed likeness of shrunk death thou shalt continue two and forty hours, and then awake as from a pleasant sleep? (Act 4, Scene 1).

With these words, Friar Lawrence passed Juliet what would turn out to be the fatal vial.

Juliet was in a bad situation, she was desperately missing Romeo, had a pending arranged marriage to Paris to which she was deeply opposed and even if she did go along with would be committing bigamy.

Juliet came to the Friar in a desperate state looking for some sort of solution. He knew he had to offer something, as Juliet could not marry Paris. In the circumstances, I believe he did very well in coming up with such a plan so quickly.

The Friar holds full responsibility for physically passing the vial to Juliet. This is the only action I see him fully responsible for. The idea, I believe was sparked by Juliet’s desperate plea ?O, bid me Leap, rather than marry Paris from off the Battlements of any tower! Or bid me go into a new-made grave and hide me with a dead man in his tomb!? (Act 4, Scene 1). The last few words in that sentence suggest something similar to the Friar?s idea of a fake death.

As her father confessor, as well as being a good friend of her husband, Friar Lawrence felt obligated to help Juliet and it seemed this was the best hope she had. He had no idea things would go so terribly wrong.

The key factor in the failure of this plan is the fact that Romeo?s friend Balthasar found out that Juliet was ?dead? (he had no reason to suspect that she was anything other) and travelled directly to Romeo in Mantua.

Friar Lawrence had sent Friar John to Mantua to inform Romeo of Juliet’s ?death? and to bring him back to Verona so he could be with her when she woke.

Unfortunately Balthasar was riding a horse, and Friar John on a mere donkey. So, of course Balthasar arrived in Mantua before Friar John, hence Romeo thinking that Juliet was actually dead, as he had already left for Verona when Friar John arrived with a message to the contrary.

This was all out of Friar Lawrence’s control.

If Friar John had arrived in Mantua before Balthasar everything would have gone according to plan- Romeo would be in Verona when Juliet woke and they could elope somewhere and live happily ever after.

Another factor in this tragedy is the intensity of the love between Romeo and Juliet. They are both in their mid teens, so intensely hormonal and consequently not of a sound emotional and psychological state. This may have affected their actions, especially that of Romeo choosing to kill himself than live without Juliet (he, of course believed she was dead, only to find her waking a few seconds after he swallowed the fatal poison).

No one could control their love, not even Romeo and Juliet. In these circumstances Romeo’s death was beyond anybodies control. His death being different to Juliet’s, as he killed himself rather than live without her, he only believed she was dead because of the Friars plan going wrong. He would have killed himself if she had of been dead, in any circumstances.

The text suggests that Romeo and Juliet were ?star-crossed lovers? (?a pair of star-crossed lovers take their life, whose misadventured piteous overthrows doth with their death bury their parent?s strife? Introduction) suggesting that the fate of the two was due to their being of incompatible star signs and was destined to be a failure no matter what. I think this can be dismissed as superstition and played no factor in their deaths.

I don?t believe that Friar Lawrence was responsible for the deaths of Romeo and Juliet. Juliet was in a terrible state when she came to him, asking for some advice. He came up with a plan, one that would have worked, if a few small things hadn?t gone wrong. No one was responsible for the factors that went wrong in the Friar?s plan, they were minor, incidental things that just happened to have ramifications on a greater scale than they would normally have.

I think the parents of both Romeo and Juliet are responsible for their deaths. Juliet’s parents moreso than Romeo’s. If their had been no feud between the families their would have been no problem with their love for each other. They would most likely have married with the blessing of both sets of parents. Juliet’s parents, particularly her father, were insistent that she would marry Paris. The following quote is from Lord Capulet;?God?s bread! It makes me mad! Thursday is near. Lay hand on heart. Advise. (Threatening her) If you be mine, I?ll give you to my friend. If you be not, hang, beg, starve, die in the streets, for by my soul, I?ll never acknowledge thee, nor what is mine shall never do thee good. Trust it. Bethink you. I?ll not be forsworn!? (Act 3, Scene 4)

Beside being forced to marry Paris, what made it worse for Juliet was the fact that it was her father that was choosing her Husband. After her birth, Juliet was placed in the hands of her Nurse, her parents had little to do with her after that.

I? m sure it made her angry that her father, who barely knew her, felt he could choose her husband.

If he had not been so adamant, then she would have not been in such a dire situation. If Juliet’s parents had not forced her to marry Paris then she would have had no need to fake her death, which was planned so she need not marry Paris, as everyone would believe she was dead.

If I were to pinpoint the blame on any one individual, it would be Lord Capulet. It was his insistence that Juliet marry Paris that put her in the state she was in when Friar Lawrence suggested she fake her death. Friar Lawrence was just trying to offer a solution to a situation caused by Juliet’s Father.

Word Count: 1047 Words.


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