Friar Lawrence was one of the most important characters in the novel. Even though he was not on the stage for most of the play he greatly contributed to the tragedy that would soon happen at the end of the play. There was basically three major parts that lead to the death of Romeo and Juliet, which Friar Lawrence was involved in all of them. Friar Lawrence played a vital role in the marriage, planning and death of Romeo and Juliet. His attempts to do the right thing were noble, but because of poor planning they would soon lead to the inevitable tragedy.
Friar Laurance marries Romeo and Juliet even though he believes that the marriage will end up in tragedy. However he marries them in hope that it will end the continuous feuding between the two families. When Romeo asks Friar Laurance to marry him with Juliet the Friar doesn't think that his love is true. "O, she knew well/Thy love did read by rote and could not spell." (Act 2, Scene 3, 87-88). As was his love for Rosaline, the Friar believes that his love for Juliet will not last. Even though he thinks that the marriage is flawed he agrees to marry them in his own self interest of ending the feuding. "Come, come with me, and we will make/short work;/For, by you leaves, you shall not stay alone/Till Holy Church incorporate two in one." (Act 2, scene 6, 34-27). This is the first action that will eventually lead to the young couples' deaths. He marries them even though he forebodes that the marriage may end in tragedy. These violent delights have violent ends/And in their triumph die, like fire and powder,/Which, as they kiss, consume (Act 2, scene 6, 9-11). The Friar's intentions are well, however he himself even warns Romeo that rushing into it will not work out. The marriage of Romeo and Juliet is the trigger of the events that will soon come that will eventually lead to the tragedy of their deaths.
The next event that contributes to their deaths is Friar Laurance's faulty planning in the fake death of Juliet. Friar Laurance did not thoroughly plan the fake death of Juliet. He failed to inform Romeo that her death was fake. "I could not send it. Nor get a messenger to bring thee, so fearful were they of infection." (Act 5, scene 2, 14-16). Friar Lawrence did not stress the importance of the letter. As a result, Friar John did not see that it was delivered to Romeo. Another fault in his plan was informing Romeo of who was delivering the letter. \"I\'ll find out your man,/ and he shall signify from time to time/ every good hap to your chances here\". (Act 3, scene 3, 169-171) The Friar forgets to inform Romeo who would be bringing the message, that it would be one of his fellow Friars. In Act IV, Scene I Juliet goes to the Friar for advice. In his cell she encounters Paris, after chatting for awhile she requests to see the Friar alone, where the Friar tells her his plan. "Hold, then; go home, be merry, give consent/ To marry Paris: Wednesday is to-morrow:/ To-morrow night look that thou lie alone;/ Let not thy nurse lie with thee in thy/ chamber:/ Take thou this vial, being then in bed,/ And this distilled liquor drink thou off;" (Act 4, scene 1, 89-93). The Friar has not considered the all the possible outcomes of his plan. He tells Juliet she must drink the potion the next day, however he has not made sure that Romeo knows of the plan. Again, the Friar's intentions are well, but he has not carefully considered the course that his actions will take, and they will eventually end in tragedy.
The Friar also plays a major role in the actual deaths of Romeo and Juliet. The Friar's carelessness in his actions leads to the suicide of both Romeo and Juliet. The Friar arrives in the tomb to see Juliet awake with Romeo and Paris by her side. "..Come, come away./ Thy husband in thy bosom there lies dead;/ And Paris too. Come, I\'ll dispose of thee/ Among a sisterhood of holy nuns: /Stay not to question, for the watch is coming;/ Come, go, good Juliet, I dare no longer stay."(Act 5, Scene 3, 156-159). Friar Laurence's selfishness made him leave the tomb in fear that he could end up in trouble, if he stayed longer he could have kept Juliet from committing suicide. After he leaves the tomb he is confronted by the Capulets and the Prince. "And I here stand both to impeach and purge/ myself condemned and myself excused." (Act 5, Scene 3, 226-227) Friar Laurence feeling shameful for the carelessness of his actions confesses what has happened and blames himself for the tragedy. Again Friar Laurence failed to take action when Friar John tells him that Romeo did not receive the message. "...But he which bore my letter, Friar John,/ Was stay'd by accident, and yesturnight/ Returned my letter back..." (Act 5, scene 3, 250-251). If the Friar had acted sooner, he had several options. He could have warned Romeo of what had happened, or gone to Juliet's tomb sooner, however he failed once again to succeed in his plans. If the Friar would have taken action sooner when he heard news of his message not being delivered, the tragedy could have been avoided.
The rushed marriage, the ill-planning and carelessness of Friar Laurence lead to the death of Romeo and Juliet. Several references are made to the fate of Romeo, however, this tragedy could have been avoided if the Friar had given a little more thought to the course of his actions. There will be much controversy over what or who was responsible for the deaths of Romeo and Juliet, but many clues are left by Shakespeare which point in the direction of Friar Laurence. The responsibility of their deaths will continue to be debated for many years to come. " For never was a story of more woe/ than this of Juliet and her Romeo" (Act 5, scene 3, 309-310)