The tragic tale of Romeo and Juliet concluded with a multitude of casualties, casualties that could have been averted had it not been for the mistakes made by certain characters. In the wake of their suicides, Prince Escalus proclaims that some shall be pardoned, while others must be punished for their roles in the tragedy. This article will explore the individuals who should be held accountable and those who deserve absolution.
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The Role of Friar Lawrence
One of the primary figures responsible for the deaths of Romeo and Juliet is Friar Lawrence. Both Romeo and Juliet confided in him and sought his guidance. From the outset, Romeo approached the friar for advice, entrusting him with the secret of his love for “the fair daughter of rich Capulet.” In a contradictious manner, the friar agrees to marry them despite the risks involved.
Similarly, Juliet turns to the friar when faced with the prospect of an arranged marriage to County Paris. She seeks the friar’s “wisdom” to devise a plan that will allow her to be with Romeo. However, the immense trust placed in the friar backfires when his elaborate plan leads to the tragic demise of the young lovers. It becomes evident that the friar’s actions were driven by cowardice and a fear of the feuding families. His negligence and decision to marry Romeo and Juliet without informing their families warrant severe punishment, even death.
The Nurse’s Role
Another individual who must be accountable for her actions is the Nurse. As Juliet’s confidant and surrogate mother, the Nurse played a significant role in raising her. The Nurse’s job was to care for Juliet and act in her best interest. In fact, the Nurse even expresses her desire to witness Juliet’s marriage.
However, if the Nurse truly cared about Juliet, she would have informed her parents about her relationship with Romeo. By withholding this critical information, the Nurse failed to prevent the subsequent tragedies. Should the Nurse have acted responsibly, any suicides or deaths could have been averted. Her carelessness and failure to fulfill her duty warrant no less than exile.
Those Deserving Pardon – Lord and Lady Capulet
In contrast to those who are accountable, there are individuals who deserve absolution. Both Lord and Lady Capulet should be pardoned for several reasons. Lord Capulet consistently attempted to maintain peace between the feuding families. When Romeo attends the Capulet ball, Lord Capulet allows him to stay and even compliments him as a “virtuous and well-governed youth.”
Furthermore, Lord Capulet has already suffered a punishment of his own. He speaks to Paris about Juliet, mentioning that all his hopes have been swallowed by death, leaving Juliet as his only remaining hope and heir. The grief Lord Capulet experiences after Juliet’s suicide illustrates the depths of his love for his daughter. Additionally, the Capulets were unaware of Romeo and Juliet’s relationship until after their tragic deaths. Hence, they could not have intervened to prevent the tragedy from unfolding. Therefore, Lord and Lady Capulet should be pardoned.
The Role of Lord Montague
Similarly, Lord Montague should not be held accountable for the tragedy. He, too, has already endured immense suffering, losing both his son and his wife. As Montague states, the grief of Romeo’s exile stopped his wife’s breath. Controlling Romeo’s every action would have been an impossible feat for Lord Montague, and thus, the blame for the tragedy cannot be solely placed on him. Although he did not directly strive for peace like Lord Capulet, the feud itself is an age-old conflict that neither family initiated. Therefore, Lord Montague deserves absolution.
The Benevolence of Benvolio
Lastly, Benvolio emerges as a figure deserving praise rather than punishment. Throughout the play, Benvolio consistently endeavors to maintain peace. He intervenes on two occasions to prevent fights from erupting. During the initial brawl between the Capulet and Montague servants, Benvolio implores them to put away their swords.
Benvolio’s sincere efforts to keep the peace demonstrate his noble character. He is a beacon of reason amidst the chaos and hostility. Benvolio should be commended for his endeavors, as his actions were in alignment with the pursuit of harmony.
In conclusion, while Friar Lawrence and the Nurse should be held accountable for their roles in the tragedy, Lord and Lady Capulet, Lord Montague, and Benvolio deserve absolution. Each character played a distinctive role in the events that unfolded in Romeo and Juliet, and it is through understanding their individual contributions that we can fully comprehend the tragedy that befell the star-crossed lovers.
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