The Nurse and Friar Laurence have a great influence on the outcome of Shakespeare’s famous play, Romeo and Juliet. Their words and actions have an enourmous impact on the two main characters. The Friar acts as Romeo’s friend, philosopher, and guide. This is a parallel role to the Nurse who advises Juliet.
They continuously work together to find ways for the young adults to marry in hopes of uniting the two and bringing peace to Verona. Their roles as parent figures compel them to help the two adolescents marry. The Nurse and Friar Laurence are kind and meaningful characters who positively contribute to the alliance and temporary happiness of Romeo and Juliet. The Friar elicits the emotions in Romeo that are usually reserved for a father. He is ready with a plan to help the secretly impassioned lovers.
“But come on, inconsistent young man, come with me. I’ll help you with your secret wedding. This marriage may be lucky enough to turn the hatred between your families…” He feels able to bring the years of feuding between the Montagues and the Capulets to an end by helping Romeo and Juliet to marry. The Nurse is a trusted family servant to Lord Capulet in Verona and she maintains an active voice in their family affairs. Lady Capulet involves the Nurse in her discussion with Juliet about her possible marriage to Paris.
She has been with the Capulet family for at least fourteen years, the entirety of Juliet’s life. The Nurse had a daughter, Susan, born on the same exact day as Juliet. Susan died, and since her death the Nurse has taken care of Juliet and become more like a mother to her than Lady Capulet. The Nurse was actually Juliet’s wet nurse, and it is proven that a bond between a baby and one who feeds it is very strong. She uses many terms of endearment; when calling on Juliet: “What, lamb? What ladybird?”
When Juliet speaks to her mother she speaks very formally, calling her “madam.” The conversation between Juliet and her mother is stilted and proper, whereas the Nurse is very open with her opinions, advice, and feelings with Juliet. When talking about Paris, she talks like a schoolgirl gossiping about Paris’ looks: “A man, young lady! Lady such a man as all the world – why, he’s a man of wax.” It is the Nurse who tells Juliet that Romeo has been banished after killing Tybalt.
“Tybalt is gone, and Romeo banished;
Romeo that kill’d him, he is banished.”
The Nurse is the only guest at Romeo and Juliet’s wedding and it is Friar Laurence who marries them. Each of these characters, therefore, has a central role in the play. It is Friar Laurence who gives Juliet the sleeping draught to be used to convince her famnily that she is dead. His letter to Romeo goes missing and this is key to Romeo’s suicide when he too believes that Juliet has taken her own life. It is the Nurse who finds Juliet’s body. The two older characters whose words and actions are most central to the play, then, are the Nurse – a positive maternal role model to Juliet – and Friar Laurence – a positive paternal role model to Romeo.