Who’s to blame for Romeo and Juliet’s tragic end

R.Preeti 4/6/2007 Romeo and Juliet William Shakespeare is considered the Father of English Drama and all his works are widely read, studied and researched upon, even today. His contribution to English Literature is massive and often overshadows that of the other great writers and dramatists. His works range from comedies to tragedies, from sentiment to politics. One of the most widely read and acclaimed tragedies of Shakespeare, is Romeo and Juliet. It is the story of two lovers and their undying love, who finally perish in the end. Romeo and Juliet is only a famous tragedy, but the characters have also epitomised Love and hold exceptional significance in today’s modern world.
Romeo and Juliet is a tragedy set in the city of Verona, Italy, in the late sixteenth century. The background is that of a setup wherein two prominent families of the city of Verona, the Montagues and the Capulets have been at loggerheads with each other for numerous years. However, at a party organised by the Capulets, the scion of the Montague family, Romeo crashes in and falls head-over-heels in love with Juliet, who happens to be the daughter of the Capulets. She too loves Romeo and professes her forbidden love to the stars and the night at the window sill of her room, when Romeo hears it and confesses the same to her.
The couple in love are married the next day, in a secret ceremony, organised by the friend of Romeo, Friar Lawrence. Amidst all this, a fight takes place between Romeo’s friend and Juliet’s cousin and the former gets killed. In order to avenge his friend’s death, Romeo kills Juliet’s friend, Tybalt. Due to this, Romeo is banished from Verona. Meanwhile, Juliet’s father arranges her marriage with a man named Paris and therefore, she consults Friar Lawrence, on her further steps. He assures her and asks her to agree for the marriage and on the day on the wedding, he advises her to drink a potion, due to which they would take her to be dead and bury her. From then on, Romeo would come and take her away.
The plan takes place as decided and the Capulets grieve over Juliet’s demise and bury her. However, before Friar Lawrence could actually carry forward the news of the plan to Romeo, he learns about Juliet’s demise form the others and comes to the grave and kills himself with a dagger, lying beside her. Later, when Juliet wakes, she finds the love of her life lying dead beside her. Overcome with grief, she takes the dagger he sued to kill himself and kills herself. Thus, the lovers are united through death.
From this summary of the tragedy, we can garner that Friar Lawrence is fairly responsible and answerable for the tragic death of the lovers. Firstly, he gets the lovers married in a secret ceremony, which by itself cannot be called a bad deed. However, it does pave way for the inseparable bond of holy matrimony between them, that the whole world does not know of. It is due to this that Juliet could not marry Paris at a later stage and Friar pleads Paris not to marry Juliet. In addition to this, when Juliet consults him on what she could do further when her marriage is fixed with Paris, he asks her to accept the proposal, increasing the chances of following a faulty path towards attaining her desire.
Besides fuelling the love between Juliet and Romeo and getting them married secretly and hatching some very dangerous plots to unite them, Friar Lawrence can also be accused of being selfish. In the tomb scene, when Juliet finds Romeo dead beside her and weeps, Friar does not offer any kind of support and also reflects that there exists no life or future for Juliet, now onwards. This only adds on to her grief and distraught condition. On being reflected thus, Juliet decides to end her life, for lack of support and hope.
If only Friar Lawrence had sought the advice of an elderly person, for the marriage of Romeo and Juliet, if he had not asked Juliet to go on and accept the proposal and if he had not laid down such a complex and delicate plan in a scenario where the lives of two lovers form rival families were involved, Romeo and Juliet could have, perhaps, avoided their demises. They could have, perhaps, lived on to solve the rivalry between their families and uniting them. They could have attained their love on Earth, rather than through death.
In the light of the above causes, Friar Lawrence can very well be called the cause of the tragic deaths of Romeo and Juliet, though his intentions were pristine and good!
References
Shakespeare, William, "Romeo and Juliet".