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Dear diary: I couldn't believe it! My beloved Juliet my mortal enemy! Yet it's true; Mercutio told me so this morning. She is a Capulet. My life is my “foe's debt” (Romeo and Juliet 1.5). And what if she should know? She'd acknowledge me for what I am: she only loves, sprung from her only hate. How could she love a “loathed enemy”? (1.5). But what feelings she did awaken in me! When I kissed her, pretending my lips were “pilgrims' hands” touching hers in a holy kiss to purge my sins, and she asked for it again, I felt in that one moment an unspeakable happiness. She is my sun and the brightness of her cheeks would shame those stars. She is a bright angel, as glorious as a winged messenger from heaven (1.5). But a Capulet! What if she asks me to deny my father and refuse my name? Yet I know of nothing else but this love for her, and if by chance her king finds out about it and seek my blood, my life would be better ended by their hate than death prolonged, wanting of her love(2.1).
Friar Laurence's dilemma
Dear Lord, forgive me for having been so quick in acquiescing to Romeo's demand that I perform in secret the rites of her marriage with Juliet. Doubts are beginning to gnaw at my soul concerning the wisdom of my action. Have I been precipitate? Could Romeo, who only yesterday was so smitten with Rosaline already forgotten his first love and now desires to marry his enemy's daughter? Is it only infatuation on his part? “Young men's love lies in their eyes and not in their hearts” (2.3). What if the masters of both houses, implacable enemies of each other, find out about my plan? Woe unto the lovers! What if my potion fails to perform its function? Or if Romeo should fail to receive my letter and does not come on time? I should have heeded my own admonition to Romeo: “They stumble that run fast”(2.3). If only the two of them had not been so passionate, like powder and fire, which consumes in the end (1.6). I know that oftentimes, violent delights have violent ends(2.6). But the deed is done! I must not waiver, but trust that all will be well. To inform the Montagues and the Capulets of their secret marriage may lead to unforeseen consequences, their ancient grudge breaking into new mutiny (1.1). The Church does not forbid me to act so long as it does not violate ecclesiastical laws. Who knows, this alliance may still turn out to be the key to the reconciliation of the warring parties (2.3).
Letter to Juliet
My dear Juliet: I never expected a pall of gloom would descend on your happy union with Romeo only a few hours after you exchanged your marital vows. I know what you must be passing through, ruling that heaven should “practice stratagems upon so soft a subject” as yourself (1.5). But blood has again been spilled, taking the lives of mortal enemies, and Romeo is about to be exiled. I am deeply moved by your resolve to endure all kinds of hardship and torture rather than be married off to another man, to “live an unstained life” to your sweet love, your husband Romeo (4.1). I myself cannot allow your marriage to Paris for it would be a violation of the sanctity of marriage and a grievous sin, of which all of us shall be held accountable before God. I do, however, “spy a kind of hope” that will preclude your resorting to desperate measures such as those you presently contemplate (4.1). Pay close attention, therefore, to my instructions, for we are pressed by time. I have devised a plan to prevent your marriage to Paris. On the eve of your wedding day, you will drink a vial of a distilled liquor, hereto enclosed, which will have the effect of inducing you to a death-like sleep. To all appearances, you will be dead, and being convinced, your kinsman will lay you in the ancient burial vault, thus the marriage ceremony will not be held at all. The drug will last for 42 hours; after which you will regain consciousness and be your normal self again. I have written a letter to Romeo instructing him to be there when you wake up. A friar will deliver it to him forthwith. When you wake up, Romeo will take you to Mantua [his place of exile]. There, you will be free of this misery and live a new life with your beloved. But you have to be brave, my dear, and cast off whatever “womanish fear would abate your valor” from performing what you have to do. Be strong and prosperous in your resolve, and may God bless and protect you (4.1). Yours truly, Friar Laurence.
I would consider doing what Juliet decides to do because she has no other choice. To bare her secret would devastate her parents. It may lead to the escalation of violence. Under the circumstances, and knowing her intense love for Romeo, I too, would choose the path she took.
I believe the friar's plan was likely to succeed and would have succeeded if only the friar had taken additional precautions as regards the recovery of Juliet. The drug took effect exactly as the friar predicted. However, the plan failed because of the intervention of unforeseen events beyond their control, e.g., Romeo failing to receive the letter, Paris' coming to the tomb, Romeo being informed of Juliet's death.
The following contributed, in some way or another, to the tragedy:
Figures of speech
If love is blind, love cannot hit the mark. (2.1). (paradox)
Peered from the golden window of the east (1.1) (metaphor)
Straining harsh discords and unpleasing sharps (3.5) (irony)
And palm to palm is holy palmer's kiss. (1.5) (pun)
The sweetest honey is loathsome in his own deliciousness. (1.5) (irony)
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