Friar Laurence and Paris meet in the friar’s chamber. Paris is asking the friar’s advice on his upcoming marriage to Juliet, which Paris himself admits is hasty and possibly contrary to Juliet’s wishes. He’s noticed that she cannot seem to stop grieving Tybalt’s death—but Paris believes that in marrying quickly, he will be able to provide Juliet the love and understanding she needs to heal. The friar, however, says he doesn’t approve of the haste of the marriage—but before he can give Paris advice, Juliet enters the chambers. Paris greets Juliet as his “lady” and his “wife.” Juliet rebuffs his greeting. Paris tries to talk to Juliet, but she turns his own words around on him again and again, stonily icing him out.
Though Paris stands in the way of Romeo and Juliet’s love, he’s not evil, narcissistic, or self-interested This conversation with the friar makes it seem like he really does care for Juliet and wants to marry her in order to help her move past her grief. Paris’s ignorance, however, makes him an easy target—he does not realize that he is, like Tybalt and Mercutio, destined to be yet another casualty of Romeo and Juliet’s chaotic, destructive love.
Juliet asks Friar Laurence if she can speak with him alone, and the friar urges Paris to leave. Paris bids Juliet goodbye, kisses her, then leaves. Juliet urges the friar to close the door behind Paris so that they can talk frankly—she worries she is “past cure, past help.” The friar says he understands Juliet’s grief, but doesn’t know what to do to put a stop to the marriage. Juliet pulls out a knife and says that if the friar can’t help her, she will end her own life. The friar, panicked, says he knows of something that can be done, if Juliet dares to try it. Juliet says she would rather jump off a tower or sleep in a crypt each night than marry Paris—she will do anything for the chance to be with Romeo again.
Juliet’s love for Romeo—and her desperation to see it through—has caused her to resort to violence as means of securing her desired ends. Juliet’s feelings of grief, betrayal, and confusion are so large that in expressing them, her thoughts and words are full of violent desires—a consequence of her overwhelming, disorienting love for Romeo and her fear of letting it go.
Friar Laurence, sensing Juliet’s resolve, tells her of his plan. He urges her to go home, pretend that everything is all right, and consent to marrying Paris the day after tomorrow. Friar Laurence gives Juliet a vial and tells her that tomorrow night (the night before the wedding) she should ensure she is in her room alone, then drink the contents of the vial. The potion within, the friar explains, is designed to make whomever drinks it sleep deeply—and appear dead—for just over 40 hours. When Juliet’s family discovers her dead, they will bring her to the Capulet crypt to be buried—while all this is happening, the friar says, he’ll send word of the plan to Romeo, who will return to Verona, get Juliet from the crypt, and hurry her away to Mantua where the two of them can live in peace.
Friar Laurence is truly dedicated to helping Romeo and Juliet find a way to be together. At first, he hoped bringing them together in marriage would bring peace to Verona and unite their houses Now that this has failed to come to fruition, he feels, perhaps, that he at least owes it to the young lovers to help them find their way out of the terrible mess they’ve gotten themselves into (largely owing to the friar’s involvement).
Juliet begs Friar Laurence to give her the vial of potion, determined to see the plan through. The friar gives it to her, then wishes her good luck. He promises to see his end of the plan through. Juliet bids the friar goodbye, praying that her love for Romeo will give her the strength she needs.
Even after having had the macabre effects of the potion described to her, Juliet is ready to do what must be done in order to secure a future with Romeo—no matter how violent or frightening it is.