Apothecary is a minor character in William Shakespeare's famous tragedy, Romeo and Juliet. Although he only appears in one scene, his role is crucial in the development of the plot. The Apothecary is a poor and desperate man, who resides in Mantua, the city where Romeo is banished to after killing Tybalt. He is known for his expertise in herbs and potions, and his skills as an apothecary are highly sought after.
In Act V, Scene I, Romeo seeks out the Apothecary's help in acquiring a poison that will allow him to end his life. Romeo is distraught over the news of Juliet's apparent death and believes that he cannot go on without her. The Apothecary, despite being hesitant at first due to the illegal nature of selling poison, ultimately agrees to provide Romeo with the deadly potion. This decision reflects the dire circumstances of both characters and the tragic nature of their love story.
The Apothecary's role in Romeo and Juliet serves several purposes. Firstly, he symbolizes the desperation and hopelessness that permeates the play. His poverty and willingness to engage in illegal activities highlight the social and economic disparities present in Verona. Moreover, the Apothecary's involvement emphasizes the ultimate tragedy of the story, as Romeo's plan to end his life foreshadows the tragic fate of both Romeo and Juliet.
Additionally, the Apothecary's decision to sell Romeo the poison further emphasizes the theme of fate versus free will. By providing Romeo with the means to take his own life, the Apothecary becomes a catalyst for the tragic events that follow. His actions raise questions about personal responsibility and the role of outside influences in shaping one's destiny.
In conclusion, the Apothecary is a minor but significant character in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. His role as a desperate and poverty-stricken merchant of death contributes to the overall themes of the play, highlighting the tragic nature of the story and the complex interplay between fate and free will. Although his appearance is brief, the Apothecary's actions have far-reaching consequences, ultimately leading to the untimely demise of the play's young lovers.