Part the our series of write-ups that emphasis on a key character from exam collection texts. Offering alternative interpretations and insights, this are right for sharing v students as they revise and prepare for their English literary works exams.

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“Virtue itself turns vice, gift misapplied”

When we space introducedto Friar Lawrence, that is via his soliloquy – a collection of oxymoronic statementsabout the natural world, its capability to heal and to damage in same measure.His words space a an allegory for human being nature and also for the consistent battle betweengood and evil. For me, his indigenous arealso indicative the his part in the rigid of Romeo and also Juliet, ‘Virtueitself transforms vice, gift misapplied’. The is this really misapplication of his roleand responsibility that hastens the tragedy. Friar Lawrence is typicallyanalysed together wise, trustworthy, caring, well-intentioned. However, the couldequally it is in analysed as a scheming, political character who well knows how hecould benefit from being checked out to bring around a reconciliation in between twowarring clans. He is at best misguided,at worst vainglorious and willing come take an excellent risks with the lives of othersin order come fulfil his ambitious to reconcile the feuding emperors of his city.

Friars, unequal monksor priests, to be itinerant (travelling) and mendicant (begging) – definition theyhad no method of sustaining themselves and also were totally reliant on the charity ofthe areas they visited. Friars were dedicated to teaching and preachingwhilst monks were typically based in abbeys and committed their resides toprayer and also study. Probably Shakespeare just wanted a holy label with a certainpoetry and rhythm come it (Priest / Monk Lawrence has less the a cadence aboutit!) but this paper definition is worth considering:

Might Friar Lawrence be all the much more likely to advantage personally from peace and stability which likewise meant wealth and also prosperity because that a city? walk it likewise suggest the is just able to move on if things get tricky because that him? have to we asking if the is as completely committed to Verona as we often tend to assume? might his duty as teacher incentivise him to intervene through the 2 young lovers regardless of the consequences?

Friar Lawrence’sconsent to marrying Romeo and Juliet in action 2, scene 3 is very irresponsiblegiven what the says in other places in this exact same scene.

1) the accuses Romeo the falling because that a woman’s good looks: ‘Young men’s love climate lies / no truly in your hearts, yet in their eyes.’ This is a concerned accusation and one which argues he knows complete well the Romeo is likely to be truly in love together he barely knows Juliet.

2) that acknowledgesRomeo’s fickle nature –‘Is Rosaline, the thou didst love for this reason dear, / therefore soonforsaken?’

3) He provides it plainthat he believes Romeo is unreliable, ‘Women might fall, when there’s no strengthin me.’

4) the addresses him as‘young waverer’, again drawing attention come his inconsistent nature.

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5) In the very same handfulof lines, he tells Romeo the he doesn’t recognize what love is and that the mistakesobsession for love: ‘For doting, no for loving’.

Doesn’t all this makehim suspiciously of Romeo’s latest declaration that love? It seems that Juliet is aprice he is willing come pay. His market of help is plainly driven by his desire to‘turn her households’ rancour come pure love’. His last advice to Romeo is notonly ironic yet hypocritical too – ‘Wisely and slow’ is quite the the contrary ofthe Friar’s very own actions.

Useful Vocabulary – you might use these words to explorecharacter, context and also events:

well-intentioned itinerant dependable compassionate mendicant reckless irresponsible misguided ambitious self-motivated vainglorious politics scheming facility oxymoronic



Jill Carteris an Advanced skills Teacher and former Leader that English and has been teaching for 23 years. Jill currently works part-time as an English teacher and also GCSE Interventionist, as well as authoring because that Oxford university Press.



Take a look at the RSC school Shakespeare: Romeo and Juliet. Created in partnership with the RSC, and also featuring colorful RSC performance photographs to lug the play to life in the classroom, this series helps students develop a lasting understanding and appreciation the Shakespeare’s work.