How important is the character of Friar Lawrence to the plot and dramatic quality of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet

In my essay I will be writing about the vitality of Friar Lawrence’s role, this includes how he fitted into the whole plot, what dramatic effect he had on the audience and most importantly I will be writing about the three main parts of his role. Friar Lawrence is a crucial character in the play “Romeo and Juliet.” The play was written by the famous “William Shakespeare” circa 1600 AD. The play is about two “star crossed lovers” living in the town of Verona who come from two great leading families who absolutely feel hatred for one another. These two families, Montague and Capulet have been bought up in conflict against one another as a part of an ever-lasting feud between the two leading members of the two most important families of Verona.The first time Romeo and Juliet see each other is at an annual party that is held at the Capulet’s mansion. As it is a masquerade party Romeo manages to sneak in. it is here that Romeo first sees Juliet and they fall in love at first sight. From then on Romeo constantly meets Juliet at her mansion in secret. In doing this the bond between both of them deeply strengthens encouraging them both to make the fatal decision of getting married. Knowing that their parents would never approve of their marriage, as a part of the ancient feud between both their families Romeo asks Friar Lawrence to wed him and Juliet in secret without their parents consent or blessing.The reason for Romeo approaching the Friar is because he is more of a neutral character as he is a friend of both the Montagues and the Capulets. The Friar knows of this ancient feud between both families and is shocked when Romeo first tells the Friar that he is love with Juliet. The Friar takes Romeo’s situation into consideration and after long thoughts decides to marry them. This is shocking to the audience because as a man of the Christian church and a religious man he would have been expected to honour the values of their parents. This leads the audience to wonder what the Friar is up to.Friar Lawrence knows Romeo and Juliet are acting against their parents wishes and he justifies this by saying “In one respect I’ll thy assistant be, for this alliance may so happy prove to turn your households’ rancour into pure love.” In saying this Friar hopes to achieve peace between both the Montague’s and the Capulet believing that Romeo’s marriage will bring them together. This leads to there being a very dramatic environment surrounding the audience because they know the couples fate will be a dramatic one from the very beginning of the play and by Romeo and Juliet becoming one in marriage, this leads them one step closer to their awaiting doom. Also it allows the audience to anticipate what the reaction of their parents will be when they find out of this tragedy. At the wedding Friar Lawrence warns the couple to love each other moderately as too much love would lead their relationship to ruins “These violent delights have violent ends,” this is an example of dramatic irony, as the audience know that the couple are destined to die.While all this is happening lord Capulet is arranging a day for Juliet to get married to a respectable man by the name of Paris. Juliet’s wishes are not to marry Paris but her father persists on her to do this. In spite of this Juliet approaches the Friar in order to seek help to find a solution to her problem. Because of the state Juliet is in, the Friar decides to help Juliet, to prevent her from harming herself. The Friar sums up a sleeping potion and gives it to Juliet saying “Then is it likely thou wilt undertake a thing like death to shide away this shame, that cop’st with death himself to ‘scape from it; and, if thou dar’st, I’ll give thee remedy.” In giving Juliet the sleeping potion the Friar hopes to make it appear that Juliet is dead on her wedding day when in reality she is in a deep sleep awaiting to wake up in Romeo’s arms in her family burial tomb.The Friar then begins to reveal his plan to Juliet. He tells her to go home and pretend to her family everything is fine by telling her father that she’ll go ahead with the wedding. The Friar also tells her to drink his potion the night before the wedding. “Hold, then. Go home, be merry; give consent to marry Paris. Wednesday is tomorrow. Tomorrow night look that thou lie alone; Let not the nurse lie with thee in thy chamber. Take thou dis distilled liquor drink thou off; when presently through all thy veins shall run a cold and drowsy humour.” The Friars plan was for Juliet to take the potion the night before the wedding to appear dead the morning after.This would relieve her of her marriage with Paris. They would have the funeral and lay her body along side her dead cousin Tybalt inside her family tomb. The Friar would then send Romeo a letter explaining his plan, telling Romeo to return from Mantua to Verona and await his loved to wake up in his arms before escaping to Mantua free of their parents, to live happily ever after. “Shall Romeo by my letters know our drift; and hither shall he come, and he and I will watch thy waking, and that very night shall Romeo bear thee hence to Mantua.”Hence the fact of something going wrong, Juliet accepted the Friars plan and did as she was told. The Friar then sent Romeo a letter explaining his plan. The Friar trusted the letter with another priest and set him to his journey to Mantua to deliver the letter. On the morning of Juliet’s wedding day, her Nurse calls out for her but she does not answer so her Nurse enters her chamber and as expected finds Juliet dead. Juliet’s family rush her to Friar Lawrence for help. The Friar then shocks the audience immerging a doubtful atmosphere upon them leaving the audience in suspense to find out what happens next when Friar Lawrence lies to Juliet’s family which is so unexpected from a religious man of a Christian church. In repliance to Lord Capulets plea for help, the Friar says “Dry up your tears and stick your rosemary on this fair corse, and, as the custom is, and in her best array, bear her to church.”At Juliet’s funeral, Benvolio sees Juliet being carried to the tomb and rushes in search of Romeo to tell him Juliet is dead. On his way to Mantua, he surpasses the priest who is to deliver the Friars letter to Romeo with his plan, so Romeo still does not know of what is going on. Benvolio reaches Romeo and is asked by Romeo “how is my lady Juliet?” Benvolio with tears in his eyes manages to reply “she is dead my lord.” Romeo is shocked and on the way back to see Juliet he stops to buy poison, whilst on his journey back to Verona he goes past the priest with the Friars letter, but neither of them notices each other and carry on their journey.Romeo arrives at the tomb and before entering he asks Benvolio to wait for him outside. He enters the tomb and sees Juliet lying along side Tybalt. He walks up to Tybalt and asks him for forgiveness for having killed him. He then walks up to Juliet and assuming she is dead drinks the poison he bought earlier on. Moments later he dies along side his beloved Juliet. The Friar without wondering weather Romeo got his message or not assumes he did and goes to meet up with him in the tomb like planned. When the Friar arrives at the tomb he sees Benvolio and asks him where Romeo is and Benvolio replies in saying that Romeo is inside the tomb, the Friar then rushes inside to see Romeo dead laying beside Juliet on the floor at that precise moment Juliet awakes from her deep sleep and asks the Friar “Where art my Romeo?”The Friar hears a large crowd approaching and in panic of being caught for what he has done he replies to Juliet “come I’ll dispose of thee. Among a sister hood of holy nuns stay not to question, but the watch is coming. Come, go, good Juliet I dare know longer stay.” Juliet then refuses to leave with the Friar after she sees Romeo’s dead corpse lying on the floor. Seeing Romeo dead before her makes her want to kill herself. The Friar then leaves her alone inside the tomb and runs away. He does this because he does not want both families to find out that he was responsible for the death of Romeo and that he was acting against the wishes of their parents. Juliet then pulls for Romeo’s dagger and stabs herself. It took the deaths of two innocent people to cease this ancient feud, to finally see sense.In the Friar running out of the tomb and leaving Juliet alone, brings the play to a climax. The effect this would have on an audience would be shocking because the audience would expect the Friar to own up to what he did instead of running away from his mistakes and not talking the blame for causing this tragedy.I believe that the Friar should not be criticised for having helped out Romeo and Juliet because he was doing it for a good cause which was to put an end to the feud between both families and bring them together in piece. On the other hand he did not uphold the Christian values of a Christian church which the audience and myself would have expected, he should have been straight with Romeo and Juliet and have advised them to be honest with their parents instead of helping them act in secret behind their backs. It was the Friars three main parts of his role which bought the play to a climax and left the audience eager to find out what would happen next bringing them closer to the play.