Romeo, after the death of Tybalt, takes refuge in the Friar’s cell to seek his advice. The priest informs him about the Prince’s verdict. Romeo at first prefers death to banishment, but the Friar once again advises him to have patience. They hear a knock on the door, and the Nurse enters. Seeing Romeo stretched out on the floor, she laments that Juliet is in the same state, “blubbering and weeping. Weeping and blubbering.”. Romeo asks her whether Juliet considers him a murderer. The Nurse replies that she does nothing but weep and call out his name. On hearing this, Romeo draws his dagger to kill himself, but the Friar stops him (but Shakespeare has planted the seed of suicide). The Friar tells Romeo to be brave like a man. He instructs him to go to Juliet, stay with her for the night, and leave in disguise at daybreak. He further tells Romeo to go to Mantua and remain there until he receives news from the Friar. He also instructs the Nurse to notify Juliet of Romeo’s coming and to see that everyone in the house is in bed at that time.
The Nurse gives Juliet’s ring to Romeo and tells him to hurry after
her. At the thought of seeing his dear wife, Romeo brightens. The Friar
is delighted over Romeo’s revival and promises to send his servant Balthazar
to him in Mantua from time to time in order to keep him informed of the
course of events in Verona. Romeo leaves the Friar, feeling grateful.
Romeo seeks refuge in the Friar’s cell after killing Tybalt. On receiving the news about his banishment, Romeo, in a frenzy, rages wildly and flings himself upon the ground weeping. Friar advises him to be calm and philosophical. When Romeo threatens to stab himself to atone for the misery he has caused Juliet, the Friar rebukes him roundly for his uncontrolled behavior saying, “Thy tears are womanish, thy wild acts denote/The unreasonable fury of a beast”.
The Friar then unfolds a plan for Romeo to enable him to make the best of the unfortunate circumstances. Romeo should go to Juliet and comfort her through the night, but he must be careful to leave for Mantua in disguise before daybreak. While Romeo is in Mantua, the Friar will try to have his sentence revoked. He also promises to keep in touch with Romeo in Mantua through his servant Balthasar. The Friar then instructs the Nurse to notify Juliet of Romeo’s coming to her and to see that everyone in the house is in bed.
The Friar’s advice is commendable in the scene. Romeo’s hysterical outbursts disturb the priest, but he keeps himself in control and finds a way to restore Romeo’s sanity by devising a plan for future action. Even the Nurse listens to his wisdom and exclaims, “O, what learnings!”. In contrast to the Friar’s self control, Romeo appears rash and raving. Only Juliet’s ring, the token of her love, calms him down.
The Friar is also contrasted to the Nurse in the previous scene. As she tried
to communicate with the distraught Juliet, she was incoherent and caused
Juliet more grief. By contrast, the Friar is wise and philosophical, calming
Romeo with his sound advice and plans. Both the Nurse and the Friar, with
their age and worldly knowledge, remind Romeo that banishment from Verona
is a much better sentence than death.
Juliet receives Romeo in her room on that same evening. Ironically, Lord and
Lady Capulet are talking to Paris downstairs. Capulet is apologetic that
he has not yet discussed the marriage plans with Juliet due to the death
of Tybalt. Paris expresses his condolences and prepares to leave. Capulet
delays him and sets the day of the wedding for Thursday, which is three
days away. They agree to invite only a few friends for the ceremony. After
Paris departs, Capulet sends his wife off to Juliet to inform her of the
marriage and make preparations for it.
This scene is filled with dramatic irony and again points out how fate intervenes in the life of these lovers. Lord and Lady Capulet have no inkling of the wedding of their daughter. While Juliet is receiving Romeo in her room to consummate the marriage, Capulet is talking to Paris about his plans to marry Juliet. Although the father has not discussed the proposed marriage with his daughter, he is certain that the obedient Juliet will consent to the plan He sets the day of the wedding for Thursday and plans to invite only a half dozen friends because of the death of Tybalt. Lady Capulet leaves to inform Juliet of her marriage and to make preparation for it, a situation that heightens the dramatic suspense of the play since the audience knows that Romeo is in Juliet’s room. The mother, however, is certain that Juliet has shut herself away because of her sorrow over Tybalt’s death. She also feels that the wedding plans will lighten Juliet’s sorrow.
It is important to note the sense of time in this scene. It was earlier on
this same day that Romeo married Juliet and that he also killed Tybalt.
Romeo, from the beginning of the play, has been a passionate, impulsive,
and impatient youth. Old Capulet, however, acts with the same haste as
Romeo in this scene. When Paris first consults with him about marrying
Juliet (Act I, Scene 2), the father is hesitant to agree, stating that
his daughter is too young and that Paris should wait awhile. Now, he has
a sudden change of heart and quickly sets the marriage to take place in
three days. There is no explanation for this uncharacteristic change in
Lord Capulet, and the audience must accept it as fate.
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