Who is Most Responsible for the Deaths in William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet?


The play “Romeo and Juliet”, written by William Shakespeare explores the tragedy of the two main characters, Romeo and Juliet. In the play, there are several characters who contribute to the death of the protagonists. Initially, it is the grudge between the parents that ruin any chance of Romeo and Juliet finding happiness as well as the lack of support of Juliet’s nurse at her time of need. In addition, it is also the reckless and immature plans of Friar Laurence that ultimately lead to the death of the couple.

The parents of Romeo and Juliet are partly to blame for the deaths of their children because they maintain the feud. In the prologue, audiences learn that the feud between the Capulets and Montagues households has been going since “ancient” times. This feud spills out on to the streets of Verona as both civilians and family members are drawn into the violence and hatred. The lords make it impossible for their children to be together, which leads them to secretive and dangerous plans to be together.

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“From ancient grudge break to new mutiny” These words spoken by the chorus highlight the fact that Romeo and Juliet’s relationship was doomed from the beginning due to the conflict of the parents. If it weren’t for this feud they would have been able to live in peace together. Ultimately, it is clear that the parents of Romeo and Juliet contribute to the deaths of the pair as it took their deaths for peace to be achieved.

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The Nurse’s lack of support in Juliet’s time of need is a contributing factor to Juliet’s death. Throughout the play, Juliet’s nurse is always by her side. As Juliet begins to fall in love with Romeo, it is the Nurse who offers her support and care in facilitating their relationship. For example, the Nurse takes messages back and forth to help the couple communicate and hence, plan their marriage. However, in Juliet’s most needy moment, the Nurse withdraws her guidance and suggests that she is better off marrying Paris. “I think it best you married with the County”. This statement by the Nurse confirms her abandonment of Juliet and is a contributing factor in Juliet’s downfall and eventually, death. As a result, it is obvious that the Nurse is partly to blame for the deaths of the couple.

Friar Lawrence gives valuable advice, but his plans were not thought out and were reckless, therefore he contributes to the death of the star-crossed lovers. Initially, it is Friar Laurence who believes he can help restore peace between the families. “For this alliance may so happy prove, To turn your households’ rancor to pure love”. These lines explain his drive to bring peace to Verona but they also serve as a reminder to the audience that according to the Prologue it is not the lovers’ “alliance” but their deaths that will “end their parents’ strife”. However, he is quickly drawn into the couple’s troubled relationship and steps in more than he should. For example, he devises a plan to reunite Romeo and Juliet putting Juliet into a sleep that makes her seem dead. Secondly, his way of telling Romeo that his wife was not dead was foolish. He sends a letter to Romeo that never gets to him. Subsequently, he believes that his love is dead and commits suicide. From this, we can conclude that that the Friar had good intentions and motives, but his plans were ill-thought-out and ridiculous, leading to their deaths.


In summary, the minor characters contribute to the deaths of Romeo and Juliet. As stated previously, if there had not been a feud between the families, none of this would have occurred. Secondly, the lack of support from Juliet’s Nurse in her time of need is also a contributing factor to the deaths of Romeo and Juliet. Finally, it is Friar Laurence’s ridiculous plans that ensure the couple meets a tragic end. ‘Never was there a tale of more woe than this of Juliet and her Romeo.

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Who is Most Responsible for the Deaths in William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet?. (2020, Nov 23). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/who-is-most-responsible-for-the-deaths-in-william-shakespeare-s-romeo-and-juliet-essay

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