Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare tells the story of two young lovers and the events that lead to their demise, which ends their families feud. Though the two made the decision to commit suicide on their own, there are three characters who carry the most blame for the fate of Romeo and Juliet.
The first of the characters who attributed to the termination of the couple, but is not entirely to blame, is the Nurse. The next character who is not entirely to blame, but is more guilty than the Nurse, is Romeo. The final character who, out of the three, is the most at fault, is Friar Laurence. The actions of these three characters is what lead to the deaths of the two main characters and this thesis will further prove that. The Nurse, or rather Juliet’s Nurse, is responsible for the actions of Romeo and Juliet, but is not entirely at fault because she was unaware of the changes in the plan which lead to end of the young lovers lives. One reason the Nurse is to blame is that she first introduces Romeo and Juliet by telling each the identity of the other:NURSE:Marry, bachelor,Her mother is the lady of the house,And a good lady, and a wise and virtuous.
I nursed her daughter that you talked withal.I tell you, he that can lay hold of herShall have the chinks.(I.
v. 112-116.)In this quote, The Nurse explains to Romeo that Juliet is a Capulet and that whoever is to marry has to be rich. If the Nurse had not revealed their full names to one another, the entirety of the play, let alone the balcony scene, would have gone much differently.
Another clear reason she is at fault is that she helps Juliet marry Romeo by acting as a messenger between the two. She helped Juliet, a child she is supposed to act as a mother figure for, marry a boy who she is fully aware Juliet was meant to hate, especially since her parents are arranging her to marry another man. The final reason she is to blame is that after Juliet’s parents threaten to disown her unless she marries Paris, the Nurse tells Juliet it would be best if you married Paris, which confuses her:NURSE:Beshrew my very heart,I think you are happy in this second match,For it excels your first. Or if it did not,Your first is dead, or ’twere as good he were,As living here and you no use of him. (III.v. 222-226)The Nurse tells Juliet to just get over Romeo, and that she believes their marriage wasn’t very good to begin with, which tells Juliet that she can no longer confide in the Nurse, the only person she trusts living in the Capulet home. If the Nurse truly believed Paris to be the better man, she shouldn’t have gone through with the marriage, but telling Juliet this hurts Juliet emotionally further.
For these reasons, it is partially the Nurse’s fault the two lovers ended their lives. The second character who is not partially responsible for the fate of the two main characters is Romeo. The first reason he is to blame is that he rushes into his relationship with Juliet, who happens to be related to his former lover Rosaline. To a character like Friar Laurence who had negative thoughts about Romeo meeting Juliet, the fact that Romeo went to the party knowing Rosaline and would be there could be interpreted as an attempt to make Rosaline jealous. Another way he sealed his fate is when, in a state of grief, anger and confusion, he kills Tybalt for murdering Mercutio, even though he knew Tybalt would be executed:BENVOLIO: Here comes the furious Tybalt back again.ROMEO: Alive in triumph—and Mercutio slain! Away to heaven, respective lenity,And fire-eyed fury be my conduct now.
(III.i. 83-86)Though this was his way of avenging his best friend, this was an extremely reckless decision that cost him his freedom in Verona. The final reason that he is to blame for the death of his wife and himself is that he was the first of the couple to take thief life:ROMEO: Well, Juliet, I will lie with thee tonight Let’s see for means. O mischief, thou art swift To enter in the thoughts of desperate men! (V.i.34-36.)Immediately after Romeo learns that Juliet had died, he makes the decision to kill himself and in nearly every event in the play, Romeo’s rashness is what causes a negative outcome for the characters.
In this instance, if he had waited a matter of minutes before taking his life, Juliet would have woken up and saved them both. In the end, Romeo’s impatience is what seals the fate of him and his lover. The final character who, out of the three characters, is the most to blame, is Friar Laurence. The first clear reason that the Friar is to blame is that agrees to marry the young couple though there are many issues with their plan, such as the fact that the wedding would be in secret due to their families feud: FRIAR LAWRENCE: In one respect I’ll thy assistant be, For this alliance may so happy prove To turn your households’ rancor to pure love. (II.iii. 90-92.)Though it will heal the relationship between the two families, he should have realized that the parents would not be pleased with this arrangement for many reasons.
Another reason the Friar is at fault is after Romeo kills Tybalt and Juliet is being forced to marry Paris, and the Friar’s plan begins to fall apart, he gets Juliet to fake her death, but doesn’t make sure the letter stating the plan is sent to Mantua for Romeo: FRIAR LAURENCE: This same should be the voice of Friar John. Welcome from Mantua. What says Romeo? Or, if his mind be writ, give me his letter.
(V.ii.1-3)It is stated earlier in the play that letters between the Friar and Romeo are usually sent with Balthasar, Romeo’s servant and friend, but the most important letter between the two that Romeo must see as quickly as possible is sent through a friend of the Friar’s who does not know the urgency of the letter. In conclusion, these three characters are to blame for the fate of Romeo and Juliet.
Due to the Friar’s poor decision making, the Nurse’s impulsiveness, and Romeo’s recklessness throughout the drama of the play, the young lovers met their unhappy ending.