Romeo goes to Friar Laurence’s chambers. Friar Laurence feels pity for Romeo, who seems “wedded to calamity.” Romeo asks what punishment Prince Escalus has handed down, and the friar tells Romeo he is to be banished. Romeo states that death would be more merciful, but Friar Laurence assures Romeo that now he has the chance to see the world. Romeo insists that the word beyond Verona’s walls is “hell itself”—all he wants is to be with Juliet. The friar warns Romeo that he’s being ungrateful for the mercy the prince has shown him, but Romeo continues to wax poetic about how empty a world without Juliet would be. Exile, to Romeo, is death.
Friar Laurence has gotten himself involved in Romeo and Juliet’s painful, dramatic saga. As a result, he must now help Romeo as he sorts through the wreckage of all he’s wrought not just upon himself, but all of Verona. Even though Romeo and Juliet are both alive and well, Romeo insists that the consequences he’s facing are as bad as death—he truly believes that if he can’t be with Juliet, there’s no point to living.
Friar Laurence says that he has some advice and comfort for Romeo—if only Romeo will hush up long enough to hear it. Romeo insists that the friar can’t speak about the things he doesn’t feel or understand, and that the things that have befallen him just in the last few hours are enough to make any man “tak[e] the measure of an unmade grave.” There is a knock at the friar’s door, and the friar urges Romeo to hurry and hide in the study while he answers it, but Romeo lies prostrate on the ground, weeping and unable to move.
Romeo is so caught up in his emotions that he can’t think clearly or take any logical actions. He’s so miserable over all the chaos and destruction around him that he wants to die—but he won’t necessarily admit that all his strife is, essentially, his own fault.
Friar Laurence asks who is knocking, and Juliet’s nurse calls out, stating that she has brought a message from her lady. She enters, and, upon seeing Romeo, remarks that Juliet is back at home in a similar state. Romeo asks if it’s really possible that Juliet still loves him, or whether she now sees him as a traitor and murderer. The nurse admits that Juliet mourns Tybalt—but still misses Romeo. Romeo says he wishes he could maim himself for causing Juliet pain.
Friar Laurence and the nurse are united in their shared difficulty of having to care for two young individuals whose outsized, melodramatic emotions are more than anyone can handle.
Friar Laurence orders Romeo to stop being so dramatic and start acting like a man. The friar demands Romeo pull himself together—nothing is as bad as it seems. Juliet is alive, and still in love with Romeo; Romeo is alive, while Tybalt, who would have killed him, is dead. On top of it all, Prince Escalus has spared Romeo’s life. The friar tells Romeo to go visit Juliet and comfort her through the night—in the morning, he says, Romeo will go to Mantua, where he will live for a while until his friends and kinsmen back in Verona find a way to secure a pardon from the prince. The friar urges the nurse to return to Juliet and tell her that Romeo is coming for her. The nurse thanks the friar for his kind, measured words, then hurries off.
The friar is Romeo’s friend and confidant, and indulges his intense mood swings and his amorous, sensitive side. But at the same time, he knows it’s his responsibility to help Romeo reel himself in a little. There are many people much worse off than Romeo, and the friar tries to remind the privileged young nobleman that in spite of all the trouble he’s facing, he’s still pretty well-off.
Romeo thanks Friar Laurence for lifting his mood. The friar tells Romeo to enjoy his night with Juliet, but not to forget that, come morning’s light, he must be out of the city. The friar assures Romeo that everything will be all right—he should go onto Mantua without fear and await word from his servant, through whom the friar will send any important news. Romeo bids the friar an emotional farewell, then takes his leave.
Romeo trusts completely in the friar’s plan, and, as he takes his leave from his friend and mentor, believes that the two of them will soon be reunited. Romeo doesn’t yet see how the cruel designs of fate will come into play and cause the friar’s plans to go awry.