Romeo and Juliet

Friar Laurence Character Analysis

Read our modern English translation.
A kindly, philosophical friar of Verona who, as his community’s spiritual and intellectual center, keeps finding himself enmeshed in the dramas of House Montague and House Capulet. Romeo and Juliet like the friar and come to him separately on several occasions for advice about love, solutions to their problems, and favors small and large. Friar Laurence is clearly uncomfortable with his role as arbiter of the young lovers’ trials and tribulations—but at the same time, he longs to bring peace to his community, and believes that in uniting Romeo and Juliet he may be able to put to rest the ancient feud between their families. He marries Romeo and Juliet in secret in hopes of bringing all of Verona together, blind to what the larger consequences of his actions may be. In spite of his occasional shortsightedness, Friar Laurence is the play’s moral compass in many ways: he calls out Romeo for his melodrama and ungratefulness, Juliet for her rash responses to anger and frustration, and Capulet for his obsession with climbing Verona’s social ladder. In spite of all Friar Laurence’s efforts to help bring Romeo and Juliet together and bridge the gap between their two families, he ultimately fails—and Prince Escalus suggests the man may even be punished for his involvement in the whole affair. Levelheaded, righteous, hopeful, and resourceful, Friar Laurence tries hard to do what’s best for everyone—even if he’s unable, in the end, to bring peace to Verona in the way he envisioned.

Friar Laurence Quotes in Romeo and Juliet

The Romeo and Juliet quotes below are all either spoken by Friar Laurence or refer to Friar Laurence. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Love and Violence Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Simon & Schuster edition of Romeo and Juliet published in 2004.
Act 2, Scene 3 Quotes

For naught so vile that on the earth doth live
But to the earth some special good doth give;
Nor aught so good but, strain'd from that fair use,
Revolts from true birth, stumbling on the abuse:
Virtue itself turns vice, being misapplied;
And vice sometimes by action dignified.

Related Characters: Friar Laurence (speaker)
Related Symbols: Potions and Poisons
Page Number: 2.3.17-22
Explanation and Analysis:
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Act 4, Scene 1 Quotes

Or bid me go into a new-made grave,
And hide me with a dead man in his shroud -
Things that, to hear them told, have made me tremble -
And I will do it without fear or doubt,
To live an unstain'd wife to my sweet love.

Related Characters: Juliet (speaker), Friar Laurence, Paris
Page Number: 4.1.85-90
Explanation and Analysis:
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Friar Laurence Character Timeline in Romeo and Juliet

The timeline below shows where the character Friar Laurence appears in Romeo and Juliet. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 2, Scene 3
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Friar Laurence , alone on the grounds of his monastery, carries a basket as he combs the... (full context)
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Romeo enters and greets Friar Laurence . The friar is surprised to see him, and remarks that something must have excited... (full context)
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...Romeo says that the friar must marry the two of them right away—and in secret. Friar Laurence is shocked by Romeo’s swift change of heart—his “ancient ears,” he says, are still ringing... (full context)
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Friar Laurence , in spite of his reservations, admits that perhaps the marriage of Romeo and Juliet... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 4
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...Juliet to come up with an excuse to go to confession that afternoon so that Friar Laurence can marry the two of them. (full context)
Act 2, Scene 5
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...to confession later. Juliet says that she does. The nurse tells her to hurry to Friar Laurence ’s chambers, where “a husband [waits to make [her] a wife.” The nurse says that... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 6
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At Friar Laurence ’s cell, the friar and Romeo wait for Juliet. The friar says he hopes the... (full context)
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Juliet rushes into the friar’s chambers and excitedly embraces Romeo. As Friar Laurence watches the two hold each another, he admires their love but wonders to himself in... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 3
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Romeo goes to Friar Laurence ’s chambers. Friar Laurence feels pity for Romeo, who seems “wedded to calamity.” Romeo asks... (full context)
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Friar Laurence says that he has some advice and comfort for Romeo—if only Romeo will hush up... (full context)
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Friar Laurence asks who is knocking, and Juliet’s nurse calls out, stating that she has brought a... (full context)
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Friar Laurence orders Romeo to stop being so dramatic and start acting like a man. The friar... (full context)
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Romeo thanks Friar Laurence for lifting his mood. The friar tells Romeo to enjoy his night with Juliet, but... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 5
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...greatly and orders the woman to go tell Lady Capulet that Juliet has gone to Friar Laurence ’s chambers to make confession and be absolved for having so offended her father. The... (full context)
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...nurse is, and says she regrets having ever trusted her. Juliet resolves to go to Friar Laurence —not to confess, but to seek the man’s counsel and a “remedy” to her woes.... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 1
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Friar Laurence and Paris meet in the friar’s chamber. Paris is asking the friar’s advice on his... (full context)
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Juliet asks Friar Laurence if she can speak with him alone, and the friar urges Paris to leave. Paris... (full context)
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Friar Laurence , sensing Juliet’s resolve, tells her of his plan. He urges her to go home, ... (full context)
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Juliet begs Friar Laurence to give her the vial of potion, determined to see the plan through. The friar... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 2
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...food. He asks Juliet’s nurse where Juliet is, and the nurse tells him she’s at Friar Laurence ’s. Capulet says he hopes the friar can “do some good” on the “peevish self-willed... (full context)
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...to be “ruled” by him forevermore. She tells her father that she saw Paris at Friar Laurence ’s cell and has promised herself to him. Capulet asks for one of his men... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 3
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...she admits that she’s afraid—she’s worried about many possible kinks in the plan she and Friar Laurence have made. If the potion doesn’t work, she’ll have to marry Paris; on the other... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 5
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...daughter’s “untimely” death. The three of them loudly mourn Juliet, screaming and crying out until Friar Laurence and Paris come to the door. (full context)
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...joins Capulet, Lady Capulet, and the nurse in loudly and dramatically lamenting Juliet’s horrible death. Friar Laurence tries to mitigate their mourning by telling them that Juliet is in a better place.... (full context)
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...feast will become a funerary one, and Juliet’s bridal flowers will now cover her corpse. Friar Laurence again urges the family to focus now on preparing for the funeral and trusting in... (full context)
Act 5, Scene 1
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...orders Balthasar to do what he says. He asks if there are any letters from Friar Laurence , but Balthasar says there are none, then hurries away. (full context)
Act 5, Scene 2
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Another friar, Friar John, enters Friar Laurence ’s chambers and greets him. Friar Laurence happily welcomes the man, who has come from... (full context)
Act 5, Scene 3
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Friar Laurence enters the graveyard carrying a torch and crowbar of his own. Seeing a mess strewn... (full context)
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Juliet stirs, then wakes. She says hello to Friar Laurence and asks where Romeo is. There is a noise outside the crypt, and Friar Laurence... (full context)
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Friar Laurence leaves, and Juliet is left alone in the tomb. She looks upon Romeo’s corpse and,... (full context)
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...these piteous woes.” Soon, a second watchman returns with Balthasar, while a third returns with Friar Laurence , who has been caught fleeing the graveyard with an ax and shovel. (full context)
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Friar Laurence speaks up to clear the air. He admits that he married Romeo and Juliet in... (full context)
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...to business at the crypt. The prince announces that Romeo’s letter confirms the truth of Friar Laurence ’s testimony. (full context)