Good Guy Friar Laurence

Once again Reddit’s bringing the interesting conversation, this time on an old Romeo and Juliet question:

Do you think that Friar Laurence is a criminal or a hero?

Somewhere along the line, someone (was it you, David Blixt?) told me that Friar Laurence is a really bad guy who used two stupid lovestruck kids as pawns in his scheme to be the hero who ends the feud. When I go look in the text, however, all I really find is that one line of his where he tells Romeo “For this alliance may so happy prove, To turn your households’ rancour to pure love.”

Where do you stand on Friar Laurence?  Is he to be completely forgiven?  A character who tried to do the right thing, for all the right reasons, and it just didn’t work out?  Or does he share in the blame for bringing it all down upon their heads? After all, what would have happened had he not married Romeo and Juliet?  Romeo had already shown that he was pretty fickle in the love department.  Nobody was dead at this point, nobody banished.  Would they both have just gotten over it?  Romeo’s impulsiveness could have been cut off at the pass real quick if Friar Laurence hadn’t enabled it.

One thought on “Good Guy Friar Laurence

  1. As is usually the case in Shakespeare, the Friar's ethical compass is more complicated than 'good guy or bad guy.' Based on conversations with Romeo, we may deduce that the Friar may not believe that R&J's love is "real love." At any rate, he doesn't care one way or the other. He's in it to unite the houses (and it works!). However, his "solution" to drug Juliet is wildly irresponsible and then, of course, he ditches Juliet in her hour of need at the end of the play. Friar Lawrence's intentions are good, if naive, but his actions are fatally inadequate. Thus we can't wholly condemn or praise him.

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