Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet - Friar Laurence
Friar Laurence plays a most intriguing role in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. He is a priest, and a friend to Romeo. With the absence of Montague parental scenes, Friar Laurence also becomes like a surrogate father to Romeo. Romeo seeks him out to marry him and Juliet, obviously assuming that the friar would without parental permission. The friar greets him and addresses Romeo's past love. He even tells Romeo that he mistook what he felt for Rosaline as love when it was not, and therefore not be too haste, " They stumble that run fast" (2.2.94). Therefore, not only has Romeo discussed matters of the heart with the friar, but also the friar himself feels in the position to be able to speak with Romeo on a more personal level.
Friar Laurence doubts Romeo's professed love to Juliet and compares it to what Romeo himself swore he felt for Rosaline, "Young men's love then lies/ Not truly in their hearts, but in their eyes" (2.2.67-8). Bluntly, yet fatherly, he corrects Romeo's claim of love by saying (in reference to Rosaline), "For doting, not for loving, pupil mine" (2.2.82). Still, he agrees to marry Romeo and Juliet without thinking twice. In fact, his greater preoccupation is not whether or not they truly do love each other, but how their love could end the feud between their families, as he states, "For this alliance may so happy prove/ To turn your households' rancour to pure love" (2.2.91-2).
Friar Laurence also doubts Juliet's love for Romeo. Before she even enters the scene the Friar notes that moderate love is best because it does not overwhelm or become consumed by itself as a rash love would (2.5.10-15). Ironically enough Juliet enters the scene "somewhat fast" (stage direction, 2.5). In reference to her rash speed, and rash love for Romeo, he then comments on how she, "Will ne're wear out the everlasting flint" (2.5.17-8). The friar does not believe that this union will endure the test of time; however, he is still wiling to bind them together as one in the eyes of the Holy Church. He seems to be working towards the greater good, that is ending the feud between the Capulets with the Montagues. Thus, shunning away the Biblical commandment of honoring thy father and mother, he agrees to marry the two and says, "Virtue itself turns into vice misapplied, / and vice sometimes by action dignified" (2.2.21-2).
Friar Laurence continues to honor Romeo and Juliet's love without taking their parents' wishes into account. He goes on deceiving the Capulets by keeping the union a secret and having everyone believe that Juliet will marry Paris (4.1). He goes against the state law by harboring a criminal when he hides banished Romeo in his home and devises a way for him to get away from Verona...