25 January 2012 Who is Responsible for Romeo’s Death In the play Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare there is much debate about who is responsible for Romeo’s death. Romeo and Juliet is a play where two forbidden lovers get married in secret despite their families’ feud. After Tybalt, Juliet’s cousin, kills Mercutio, Romeo’s best friend, Romeo kills Tybalt and is banished from Verona with the promise of death upon return. Lord Capulet plans to force Juliet to marry a man named Paris, but she runs to Friar Lawrence who helps her fake her own death.
Romeo finds out but thinks that her death is real and goes to an apothecary, buys poison, and kills himself by Juliet’s side. When Juliet wakes up to find Romeo dead, she stabs herself. Balthasar, Lord Capulet, and Friar Lawrence are all responsible for the death of Romeo. Balthasar delivers the news of Juliet’s death, Lord Capulet changes the date of the wedding, and Friar Lawrence helps Juliet fake her own death. These people are key characters that play major roles in contributing to Romeo’s death. The first person responsible for Romeo’s death is Balthasar.
Balthasar is Romeo’s personal servant, and he is partially responsible for Romeo’s death because he brings Romeo the tragic news of Juliet’s death. Balthasar says to Romeo, “I saw [Juliet] laid low in her kindred’s vault / And presently took post to tell it you” (Shakespeare, 5 . 1. 21-22). This false news sets Romeo’s ensuing death in motion. After hearing the news from his trusted servant, Romeo believes Juliet’s death is real and convinces an apothecary to sell him poison. Romeo consumes the substance and dies at Juliet’s side.
Although Balthasar plays a significant role in Romeo’s death, Lord Capulet also plays a contributing role. Lord Capulet’s role in Romeo’s death is significant because he pushes Juliet to the point where she fakes her own death and thus and changes the date of the wedding. Lord Capulet is Juliet’s father. He says to the nurse, “Go, Nurse, go with [Juliet]. / We’ll to church tomorrow. (4. 2. 37-38). Lord Capulet attempts to force Juliet to marry Paris against her will. Juliet turns to Friar Lawrence for help and he gives her a drug that will help fake her own death.
However, when Juliet acts happy about marrying Paris, Lord Capulet is over-joyed and moves the wedding up a day. The letter explaining Juliet’s ruse would have gotten to Romeo if Lord Capulet had not changed the date of the wedding. Instead Romeo’s servant, Balthasar, delivers the message that Juliet is dead. Romeo, who thinks that Juliet really is dead, kills himself at her side. Although Lord Capulet is a key contributing character to Romeo’s death, there is another person who can be held responsible – Friar Lawrence.
Another person who is responsible for the death of Romeo can also be blamed on Friar Lawrence, the priest who marries Romeo and Juliet. He gives Juliet a potion that makes her seem dead without consulting Romeo, and everything disastrous that could happen begins falls into place from there. Friar Lawrence says to Juliet: Take thou this vial, being in bed, And this distilling liquor drink thou off. When presently through thy veins shall run A cold drowsy humour, for no pulse Shall keep his native progress, but surcease (4. 1. 94-99). The potion imitates death and is meant to give Romeo time to meet Juliet when she wakes.
The two are supposed to run away together, but the letter that Friar Lawrence fails to deliver has all the information about Juliet’s fake death. Instead, the news of Juliet’s death reaches Romeo’s ears from his servant, Balthasar. Romeo believes that her death is real, so he buys poison and kills himself. In conclusion, many people are responsible for the death of Romeo in the play Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare. Balthasar delivers the news of Juliet’s death, Lord Capulet changes the date of the wedding, and Friar Lawrence helps Juliet fake her own death.
In many ways lack of communication hastened Romeo’s death. It seems as though Romeo’s death would never happen with modern technology, although the possibility still exists. One little mistake can lead to a “domino effect” of disasters and intricately weaves the different characters involved in Romeo’s death into the story to reveal the tragedy, and forever after leaving the reader thinking “if only” Works Cited Shakespeare, William. The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet. Toronto: International Thomson Limited, 1997. Print.