The Friar and the Apothecary Comparison and Contrast Essay
Fiction, whether it is a movie, play or a story depicts an assortment of human emotions. The plot revolves around these emotions, for the characters are gripped by the emotional influences which add intensity to the story. Although humans experience a variety of emotions, the most influential among them is the feeling of love. Love has varied forms, it can be the tenderly love of a mother, the affectionate love of a friend or the passionate love of a young person for his/her lover. Numerous stories and plays have been written depicting this passionate love. One such play which depicts the passionate love of young lovers is “Romeo & Juliet” by William Shakespeare. Their passionate love leads them to a tragic end. The characters of Apothecary and Friar Lawrence play an important role in the events that result in the death of Romeo and Juliet. In this play, we will compare and contrast the characters of Apothecary and Friar Lawrence, and their roles in the death of Romeo and Juliet.
Romeo and Juliet belong to warring families and amidst this animosity, Romeo and Juliet fall in love, the very moment they see each other in a party. They are so deeply in love that they secretly marry on the next day itself. But their happiness is momentary, as Romeo is accused of murder and banished from his city. When Juliet’s father arranges her wedding with another man, Juliet seeks the help of Friar Lawrence, the priest to unite her with Romeo. Lawrence devises a plan according to which Juliet will drink a potion that will make her appear as if she is dead. Juliet drinks the potion on the night before her wedding and her family mourns her death, as the effect of the potion makes them to believe that Juliet is dead. But Romeo, oblivious of the plan, is shocked when he hears about Juliet’s death. Heart-broken and dejected, he ends his life at the tomb of Juliet, by consuming poison. Upon awaking Juliet finds Romeo dead, she also kills herself with the Romeo’s dagger. Although Friar Lawrence’s intention was to unite the lovers, unknowingly he leads them to their tragic death. Friar Lawrence is a pious person who wants to end the feud between Romeo’s family and Juliet’s family by uniting Romeo and Juliet. “In one respect Ill thy assistant be; for this alliance may so happy prove, to turn your households rancour to pure love.” (Shakespeare II.iiii.33).But his message that Juliet had consumed the sleeping potion and her death was a pretense to defer her marriage with Paris, fails to reach Romeo and Romeo kills himself, thinking that Juliet was dead. Friar Lawrence, in his attempt to unite Romeo and Juliet, ends up causing their death. “Finally, it was the shortsightedness of his actions that in part led to the deaths of the two lead characters.” (field-of-themes.com).
When Romeo hears about Juliet’s death, he decides to end his life. So he searches for an Apothecary so that he can obtain a vial of poison. When he finds an Apothecary, Romeo notices that he looked poor and taking advantage of his condition Romeo makes an offer to the Apothecary. He proposes that he will pay a large amount if the Apothecary provided him with a vial of poison. “Romeo reminds the apothecary of the obvious poverty in which he lives and persuades him to accept a bribe”. (Ford 198). The Apothecary was aware of the fact that sale of poison was an offence, in his town, which is punished with a death sentence. But his poverty compels him to accept Romeo’s offer. “My poverty, but not my will, consents”. (Shakespeare V.i.68) The Apothecary is responsible for the death of Romeo and Juliet, as he succumbs to Romeo’s temptation and gives him poison, knowing very well that Romeo is going to consume the poison. The Apothecary is a selfish person who is concerned about his own welfare; his benefit was attained at the expense of someone’s life.
Both Lawrence Friar and the Apothecary are responsible for the death of Romeo and Juliet but they differ from each other as far as their intentions are concerned. Lawrence intended to unite Romeo and Juliet so that their warring families forget their acrimony and peace is restored in his town. He wished to save the young lovers from being the victims of hatred of their families. But his plan fails and ends in a tragic death of both the lovers. He inadvertently brings upon of the death of Romeo and Juliet. On the other hand, the Apothecary is aware of the consequences of his actions, still he accepts Romeo’s bribe and hands him the vial of poison. He knows that Romeo was contemplating suicide and the poison given by him was going to end his life, in spite of this he gives the poison to Romeo. He chooses his gain over the life of Romeo.
Ford, Laura. Liberal Education and the Canon: Five Great Texts Speak to Contemporary Social Issues. 27 November 2008.
field-of-themes.com. Romeo & Juliet. 27 November, 2008. http://www.field-of-themes.com/shakespeare/essays/Eromeo2.htm
Shakespeare, William. Romeo and Juliet. Courier Dover Publications.1993.