Friar Lawrence is an Idiot

As far as Friars go, you can’t do much worse than Friar Laurence. He conducted the marriage ceremony of two teenagers who had known each other for a couple of days without permission from their parents. Who does that?

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Quotes from Act IV

Quote: I have a faint cold fear thrills through my veins / That almost freezes up the heat of life. (IV, iii, 15-16)

Analysis: Shakespeare gives us an array of literary devices with Juliet’s utterance. We get alliteration and foreshadowing. Juliet knows this will not end well.

Quote: Death is my son-in-law, Death is my heir (IV, v, 38)

Analysis: Capulet’s lament is ironic on so many levels. Death is his son-in-law insomuch that Romeo is dead to the city after his banishment. Romeo will be physically dead shortly as well. The audience knows that Juliet lives, making Capulet’s sorrow unnecessary.

Classroom Application

On yesterday’s episode I said, “If you love oxymorons, you can’t help but love Juliet’s reaction to Tybalt’s death at the hands of Romeo.” 

Today I’d like to say, “If you love morons, you can’t help but love Friar Laurence.”

It’s quite possible Friar Lawrence is the most irresponsible, idiotic character to ever grace a Shakespearean stage. Let’s take a look at his plans.

Friar Lawrence Plan #1: Hey, I have an idea: I’ll consent to marry two teenagers who have known each other for a few hours, hoping it will end the feud between their two families.

Result: I guess it kind of works. The feud does end.

Analysis: After spending several lines telling Romeo what a horrible idea this is, Lawrence states, “In one respect I’ll thy assistant be; / For this alliance may so happy prove / To turn your households’ rancor to pure love.” (II, iii, 90-2). Friar Lawrence knows the wedding is a really, really, really bad idea, yet goes forward with it anyhow. In short, he’s willing to sacrifice the happiness of Romeo and Juliet to promote peace. This is consistent with the “loins” reference in the prologue, suggesting the “star-crossed” lovers are sacrificial lambs. There’s certainly a Christ-figure motif working here with the town’s ecclesiastical leader sacrificing two “innocents” on the altar.


Before we get to Friar Lawrence’s next plan, I feel the need to suggest some genius plans, genius lesson plans that is at don’t need to spend every afternoon reinventing the wheel of Romeo and Juliet lesson plans.

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Let’s get back to the Friar’s plans


Friar Lawrence Plan #2: Hey, I have an idea: Romeo, go to Juliet’s bedroom and “comfort” her. Leave really, really early in the morning so you don’t get killed. After all, you did kill Juliet’s cousin just now and her parents would be severely displeased. Sit tight in Mantua while things die down (no pun intended) and you’ll come back with trumpets blazing and full of joy.

Result and Analysis: The plan started off well. Romeo and Juliet got some “comfort.” Romeo left in time. If not for that d-bag Paris and that idiot Capulet, this plan had a chance. Although, I find it highly doubtful Lord Capulet would have been too pleased to discover his daughter had married the son of his arch-enemy and killed his favorite nephew. In fairness to Friar Lawrence, he was kind of stuck at this point. He was stuck, however, by his own stupidity in marrying the two horny youngsters to begin with.

You know what Friar Lawrence could have used? My free lesson planning video course. If you happen to see the Friar on your morning walk today, just tell him to check out the show notes.


Friar Lawrence Plan #3: This is a 7-step plan.

  1. Juliet lies and consents to marry Paris. This step is quite easy considering Juliet’s been lying to her father the entire play.
  2. Juliet goes to bed alone. This step is easy; after all, I’m guessing Juliet goes to bed alone every night that Romeo isn’t around.
  3. Juliet drinks potion that fakes death. As long as the potion works, this step should be pretty easy to pull off. I am, however, curious how Friar Lawrence tested this particular concoction.
  4. Juliet gets found dead. Juliet really has to do nothing here. She just needs to appear dead and taken to the Capulet tomb. At this point of the play, it appears as though FriLaw’s plan is going great.
  5. Friar Lawrence sends letter to Romeo. Oops!
  6. Juliet wakes up while Romeo is waiting. Technically, Romeo is waiting.
  7. Romeo and Juliet run away to Mantua. It’s hard to run when your dead.

Result: A lot of people die. This could be classified as a major fail.

Analysis: All Friar Lawrence has to do is send a letter to Romeo. That’s it. So what does he do? He assigns the task to Friar John. Friar freaking John! Deliver the letter, you imbecile!

You gotta love Friar Lawrence’s reaction upon hearing of Friar John’s failure: “By my brotherhood, / The letter was not nice, but full of charge, / Of dear import; and neglecting it / May do much danger.” (V, ii, 18-20). Hey Friar Lawrence, did it ever occur to you to tell Friar John this before you sent him?

How about: “Friar John, get this letter to Romeo as soon as possible. It’s really important, so don’t stop and visit people.” Or better yet, Friar Lawrence, how about sending the letter with someone under the age of 129. Or better yet, Friar Lawrence, how about sending two letters or three just to make sure it gets there?

And here’s what I want to know: Why wasn’t Friar Lawrence at the tomb? And another thing, when Juliet wakes up, did it ever occur to Friar Lawrence that maybe, just maybe, he shouldn’t let Juliet alone in a tomb with her dead husband and dead fiancee?

Life Lesson

Be careful who you’re taking advice from.


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