Who did it?

I have published a poll on Twitter and here where you can vote on whom you feel is the most responsible for the deaths in Romeo and Juliet.
Juliet's death scene
Comment below to discuss your take on the tragedy.
Friar LaurenceI’ll get you started by saying that I definitely believe Friar Laurence should have known better than to marry Romeo and Juliet. Why he thought that a superficial boy like Romeo would make husband of the year material is beyond me! Ending the feud was not his job! He really should have gone to Romeo’s father about all of this. From all accounts in the play, Lord Montague was a concerned father. I’m sure he would not have allowed Romeo to marry a Capulet, but her would probably have helped him out before he become so desperate about Rosaline! He says, “We would willingly give cure as know.” Finally Friar Laurence shows the world’s worst judgement when he leaves Juliet alone in the sepulcher with her dead husband! This doesn’t excuse Prince Escalus for ignoring the feud then throwing a tantrum and saying, “Off with their heads!” the Nurse for being an idiot, Tybalt for being a jerk, or Lord Capulet for being emotionally abusive, but dang! Basically, Romeo and Juliet never had a chance. Of course, I’m a big believer in personal responsibility, so I don’t excuse them either. But if I have to pick just one, I guess I’m going with the not-so-good Friar.
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29 thoughts on “Who did it?

  1. I, too, believe that Friar Laurence is most able to be held accountable for the deaths of Romeo and Juliet, as well as the numerous others that occur as a result or during the play. His intent to do good overbearing his better judgement, Laurence is persuaded to marry Romeo and Juliet with the faint hope that it might end the ancient grudge these two arrogant families have born for undefined decades. He was unable to get his letter to Romeo, but Friar Laurence should perhaps have known what brash actions Romeo might attempt to perpetrate upon hearing of Juliet’s alleged death. It was also an act of unprecedented stupidity on his part to abandon Juliet among the corpses of those she holds dear. If the friar had stopped to consider the morbid thoughts his hurried speech would have on the already-frightened Juliet, he perhaps would not have been so rash.

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    1. i like that phrase “unprecedented stupidity”! The first time I read the play (in high school), I could not believe that anyone could be so stupid!

      And your use of the word brash did not go unnoticed!

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      1. Thank you Mrs. Rains! By the way, I noticed the scenes that I believe are from the 1968 version on the post, as well as the Leonardo DiCaprio poster in your room. Which version do you enjoy the most-1968, DiCaprio, or the new 2013 one?

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        1. I like both versions. I’m a traditionalist, so I prefer the 1968, which is excellent and has Michael Caine as Tybalt, by the way. But the DiCaprio version is surprisingly excellent for a modern updating of the play. They manage to make Shakespeare’s language seem very natural in the modern setting, which is often very difficult. And, I’m not a DiCaprio fan in general, but obnoxious teenager is the role he was born to play!

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    2. You do have an amazing point here, but you are forgetting the few intertwined details that go along with this. For example; As a holy man he would know much about religion. (in this case being Catholicism) If you can recall many instances in the catholic religion the possible fatality of someone getting in the way of a plan they have (which would be believed to be fate, or “God’s choice”)would not measure to the possible thousand unholy acts being committed. This only being acceptable in gods will.[these instances include the Second War of Kappel, the Crusades, and the German Peasants’ War] Therefor; overall the deaths of Romeo and Juliet in Friar Lawrences’ head were most likely considered “the will of God”, and in the Catholic religion this would be considered better judgement because it did end the grudge, and hatred between the two family’s
      Also, it was Friar John whom failed to deliver the letter he had sent to Romeo, therefor holding him unaccountable for that action. Keep in mind this could have changed the results, but only if Paris hadn’t shown up would it had done any good.
      Since Juliet was already very frightened i believe the best method was to put her into a deep sleep, especially being put in the tomb with her relatives. If you recall the original plan was to alleviate her fright with her dearest Romeo coming to rescue her, but of course til death did they part and Romeo was dead before the plan could be finished. Also, her plan was to kill herself in the first place(this recurring several times throughout the play) if Romeo did die before her.

      I do realize often times William Shakespeare does not take historical evidence into play, but in my opinion no one was to blame for the deaths of the young royalty other than themselves, due to the fact their dangerous love is what had drove them to the complete chaos and absurdity the found in their own heads, giving them no time to reflect on their true reality.

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      1. You make some good points; however, if the crux of your argument is that Friar L was all into the will of God. or fate, why wasn’t he willing to let the feud run its natural course?

        Certainly, Shakespeare is exploring the struggle between fate and free-will (yet another duality). In this play, I do think free will just might come out losing.

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      2. Do you think that Friar Laurence perhaps should have just looked on the feud as the will of God, then? It seems by this logic, he should have been reluctant to interfere in any way other than to offer religious advice (his exact job description).

        I do really like that you’ve pointed out that he was trying to alleviate (good vocab word! I noticed!) her fear with the potion to keep her from committing the unforgivable sin. (I also noticed chaos!)

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  2. my belief is that he figured he may have been a godsend and interlude this fued. maybe he believed it was his purpose due to his high association with the family or families

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  3. You make a point on Friar L being the one to blame, but honestly, Romeo is the one to blame. If he would have controlled his hormones, he wouldn’t have been a stupid teenage boy “falling in love” with every girl he sees. This caused him to go to Juliet’s balcony and “convince” her that he loved her. *rolls eyes and throws up* All this caused a domino effect with people getting into fights, which resulted to people dying. Of course, that led to the end when the two “lovers” end up dying. (shocking um nooooo) In my opinion, Romeo is the one to blame for all the deaths including his own. (he technically committed suicide but that’s my opinion)

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  4. I definitely believe that it was friar Laurence’s fault. They had known each other for one night, and decided to get married. Friar Laurence should have known that either it would not have lasted, or that since the families are in such a feud, that they could be punished. I also believe that it is Tybalt’s fault. If Tybalt hadn’t of assumed that Romeo was going to crash the party, He would never wanted to fight Romeo. Then, Mercutio would have never fought him (and lose). Romeo would have never killed tybalt, and romeo wouldn’t have had to have been exiled. Thus causing them to not have to give their lives.

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    1. You have some good ideas here. One thing to pay attention to is your verb tenses, though. You say “If Tybalt hadn’t [have] assumed that Romeo WAS going to crash the party…” which makes it seem like you’re saying that Tybalt expected Romeo to be there even before he saw him. Timing is important in establishing a chain of events, so verb tense is vital.

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  5. I also believe that Lord Capulet and Lady Capulet play a large role in the deaths of Romeo and Juliet. First, they are in a feud with the Montagues, this leads to Romeo and Juliet’s secrecy. And secondly, they force Juliet to marry Paris. That action leads to Juliet faking her death. Then, Juliet’s action leads to Romeo buying the poison and drinking it. Next, Romeo’s action leads to Juliet’s death, but also his own mother’s death. But, there are so many ways to interpret this controversial subject.

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    1. I like the points you make, Rachel. If the two families were not enemies in the first place, there would have been no point in keeping the marriage secret. Perhaps some of the blame went to the Lord and Lady of both households, as well as their ancestors who originally formed the grudge between the two families.

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  6. I must say that I wholeheartedly agree with you. Though Friar Laurence was regarded as a wise man multiple times through the play, his dialogue and actions reflected hasty decisions and immaturity. Though he may have viewed marrying Romeo and Juliet as a way to arbitrate the feud between the Montagues and Capulets, he was clearly not considering the consequences of doing so. His intentions may have been understandable in this particular scenario, but they were not right, and this choice indirectly led to the demise of several characters.

    The Friar continued to make poor decisions after Romeo and Juliet’s marriage. Giving Juliet the sleeping potion was especially risky. He was consciously placing her in danger of her own death by trusting her with the potion, and by doing so, the daughter of the Capulets was buried alive. This was an appalling situation he could have easily averted, but due to his lack of good judgment, he proceeded to form the bumpy road that led to the lovers’ deaths.

    Perhaps the worst choice the Friar made was abandoning Juliet inside the Capulet tomb. Not only was this an act of haste and thoughtlessness, but it was also one of selfishness. He deserted a child inside her family tomb, her husband and Paris newly dead, and did not spend a mere three seconds to save her. Leaving Juliet in an unsound state in the given circumstances left her with the option of suicide, which she gladly took. This act was completely foolish of the Friar, and he should have known better than to leave her alone.

    Every one of the major characters in the play contributed to these deaths, but in my personal opinion, the Friar took the vast majority of the blame.

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    1. You make a good point that every one of the major characters contributed to the deaths. If you were going to excuse anyone, who would you let off the hook? I think I’d excuse Benvolio because he was just trying to help his friend. He was the same age as Romeo, so we can’t really expect him to know any better than Romeo (unlike Friar Laurence). Of course, his advice is what got Romeo to the party to see Juliet, so…

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      1. That is an interesting question. Personally, if I were to excuse the blame from one person, I would most likely choose Prince Escalus. While he was involved in the feud between the Montagues and Capulets, his decisions considered general society rather than targeting a specific group. He may have banished Romeo from ever entering Verona again, but he was not aiming to contribute to multiple deaths and suicide. Instead, his viewpoint regarded all the people of Verona. The Prince’s neutral, unbiased perspective and thoughtful choices do, in my opinion, make him less worthy of the fault than others (such as Friar Laurence). I do not disagree with your opinion, however. Benvolio’s heart was in the right place, and his efforts to cheer Romeo were admirable.

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  7. I think that Romeo was the responsible one. He started it all by loving Rosaline and changing his mind and loving Juliet. However, I also think Juliet is responsible because she was in Romeo’s state of mind, but Romeo was much more rash than she was. She didn’t want to marry Paris, and got really desperate and made Romeo think she was dead. So I see both Romeo and Juliet as responsible for their own deaths.

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  8. This is late, but I wanted to do it for fun in a way. I think Friar Laurence caused the death of Romeo and Juliet. He’s the one who gave her the sleeping potion to make her look as if she was dead, and Laurence sent Friar John to give Romeo a letter explaining the situation. But Friar John comes back with some sad news that he was quarantined because of the plague, and didn’t give Romeo the letter. Then Friar Laurence writes ANOTHER letter for Romeo explaining what he’s about to do, which was go get Juliet from the tomb. After stumbling many times, Laurence didn’t reach the tomb in time, so Romeo and Juliet killed themselves. It’s a tragic ending, but I think Friar Laurence didn’t know this was going to happen, and didn’t expect to have to do this which caused the deaths between the two star crossed lovers.

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