Friar: shocking revelation #2 (5.3.237-246)

FRIAR              You, to remove that siege of grief from her,

                        Betrothed, and would have married her perforce

                        To County Paris. Then comes she to me,

                        And with wild looks bid me devise some mean

                        To rid her from this second marriage,

                        Or in my cell there would she kill herself.

                        Then gave I her (so tutored by my art)

                        A sleeping potion, which so took effect

                        As I intended, for it wrought on her

                        The form of death. (5.3.237-246)

Second big revelation, as he speaks directly to the Capulets: Juliet wasn’t really dead, it was a sleeping potion, and I supplied it. A kindness to the parents: you only tried to marry Juliet off to Paris so precipitately because you wanted to cheer her up, remove that siege, that weight of grief, following Tybalt’s death – but perforce sharpens this, because it does mean, by force; you were compelling her to do it, even if you had the best of intentions. A reminder for the audience, as well as an explanation for everyone on stage: Juliet did indeed visit the Friar with wild looks, threatening to kill herself right there and then if there was no way out of marrying Paris. And so, on the spot, the Friar had to come up with a plan, and naturally he drew on his medical skills, his art. He knew precisely what the potion would do, and it acted exactly as he intended: it wrought on her the form of death. It was a hurried plan, but a careful one; he knew what he was doing.

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