Friar Laurence is a Franciscan friar who aids both Romeo and Juliet throughout the whole play. Choices he made determined the outcome of the play and had he made different choices, the play may not have ended the way it did.
Friar Laurence is a man of good intentions. He will always look on the bright side of things. The following quote implies that Friar Laurence hopes that by marrying Romeo and Juliet, the violence between the house of Montague and the house of Capulet will cease.
In one respect I’ll thy assistant be; for this alliance may so happy prove, to turn your household rancour to pure love (Romeo and Juliet, Act 2, Scene 3, Line 86).
Another good example of his good intentions is when he tells Juliet that everything will be all right even though Romeo is banished. She will take the sleeping potion and by the time Romeo comes to pay his respects she will be up and alive again.
Shall Romeo by my letters know our drift, and hither shall he come; and he and I shall watch thy waking, and that very night shall Romeo bear thee to Mantua.
(Romeo and Juliet, Act 4, Scene 1, Line 114)
Unfortunately, for all his good intentions, the play still ends in tragedy.
Friar Laurence is also a man willing to take risks for the happiness of others. He risks his reputation as a friar in the following quote by suggesting to Juliet that she drink a potion to avoid marrying Paris so that she can marry Romeo.
Take thou this vial, beeing then in bed, and this distilled liquor drink thou of
(Romeo and Juliet, Act 4, Scene 1, Line 93)
The nurse is a part of the house of Montague. She is a very down to earth woman, who will be sure of Juliet’s happiness at all costs. The following quote is an example of this.
But first let me tell ye, if ye should lead her in a fool’s paradise, as they say, it were a very
gross kind of behaviour, as they say; for the gentlewoman is young; and, therefore, if you should deal double with her, truly it were an ill thing to be offered to any gentlewoman, and very weak dealing (Romeo and Juliet, Act 2, Scene 4, Line 107).
The nurse is very loyal to Juliet as shown in the past quote. The nurse is taking a chance at talking to Romeo for she knows that he is of the house of Montague and god knows the penalty for the interaction between.
The nurse is also a very comical character at times. She provides comedy at serious points in the play to amuse the reader. The following quote is when the nurse returns to the Capulet house with news of Romeo’s intention towards Juliet. She is pretending to be in need of a massage for her aching body when she very well knows that Juliet is dying to know what Romeo has said.
I am aweary, give me leave awhile:
Fie, how my bones ache! What a jaunt have I had! (Romeo and Juliet, Act 2, Scene 5, Line 25)
Not only does the nurse provide as a messenger for Juliet but she is needed around for Lady Capulet to speak with Juliet. Lady Capulet is not comfortable beeing alone with Juliet and she needs the nurse in the room to feel more comfortable. The following quote illustrates my point.
Nurse, give leave awhile; We must talk in secret- Nurse, come back again (Romeo and
Juliet, Act 1, Scene 3, Line 7).
The nurse seems to serve as a mediator.
Both the nurse and Friar Laurence affect the whole outcome of the play immensely. Had the friar not wed Romeo and Juliet, the tragedy would never have occurred. Also, even if he had wed them, had he not given Juliet the sleeping potion, Romeo would have had no reason to kill himself, then Juliet wouldn’t have either. The nurse also affected the outcome of the play. Had she not agreed to meet Romeo to speak with him, Juliet would not have known Romeo’s intentions and they would not have been able to get married.
In conclusion, I believe that the friar and the nurse both affected the outcome of the play a great deal. Friar Laurence with his risk taking and numerous ideas and the nurse with her watchful eye over Juliet. Alas, had the nurse and the friar not made the choices they did, there could have been a different ending.
For never was a story of more woe than this of Juliet and he Romeo (Romeo and Juliet,
Act 5, Scene 3, Line 308).
1. Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare. Published in 1982
2. World Book Encyclopedia, Volume S, Shakespeare’s works
3. Internet site, www.gti.net/iksrog/sha1.htm