IN-CLASS ESSAY: KEY to a GOOD ANSWER
I was, on the whole very impressed with the classí work on this assignment. Performance analysis is a new skill to all of you, and textual analysis is a new skill to many; you all showed energy and discipline in your approach, and displayed a good
basic understanding of the plays and of the task at hand. Bravo!
Iíve been extremely picky in my evaluations, for three reasons. The first is to provide you with a clear illustration of the kind of rigour and attention to detail that is required in textual analysis. The second is to provide a cle
ar illustration of the various skills required for each of the three tasks, gathering evidence, analysing evidence, and presenting an argument. The third is to provide the best possible preparation for round two. Professor Percy has decided that the 10% a
ssignment for next term will be a similar exercise which employs the same skills, so you'll have a chance to apply what you've learned this time.
In support of my comments on your work, I am providing this "key to a good answer" for your reference. The key is constructed as an answer to parts 1 & 2 of the assignment on Juliet's speech from R&J (which was the
speech most of you chose to write on), but it illustrates the methodology relevant to any answer. It includes examples drawn from both your work and mine. It also includes a copy of an excellent essay written by a class member on the Friar's speech from
R&J. I've also photocopied my scansion of Juliet's speech from R&J and inserted it into each of your exam booklets (the formatting was problematic for uploading onto the web page). Please take advantage of these resources, and r
efer to them when you approach this exercise for the second time next term.
This assignment, as you know, is worth 10% of your overall grade. Grade ranges will translate into final percentages as follows: A-range: 8-10%; B-range: 7-7.9%; C-range: 6-6.9%; D-range: 5-5.9%; F: 0-4.9 %. The bulk of the class gr
ades fell into the C-range. Many papers showed a considerable variety of grades among the three parts of the assignment; that's because each part evaluated a separate set of skills.
A good answer need not include all of what I list here; but it should answer every question and include a significant number of the major points I list here.
1. GATHER THE FOLLOWING EVIDENCE
Summarise the plot up to this point in the play. Remember that plot is made up of on-stage events only.
- list each on-stage event in chronological stage order
- listing events scene by scene was very useful to many people
- quote text only if quoting is the only way you can avoid making a value judgement about what is said
- list off-stage events (eg. not "Romeo has been wandering", but "Benvolio says he saw Romeo wandering;" not "Romeo and Juliet marry," but "Friar Lawrence tells R&J to come & he will marry them right away, R&am
p;J follow him")
- make dramaturgical observations (eg. not "Juliet enters above," but "Juliet looks out her window"; not " )
- interpret charactersí behaviour (eg. not "Juliet is not interested in Paris", but "Juliet says sheíll try to like Paris;" not )
- avoid quoting text
Who is the speaker (name, age, occupation, social status, important relationships, esp. to other characters on stage or mentioned in the passage)
- 13; she will be 14 in "a fortnight and odd days" (1.3.17) on "Lammas Eve at night" (1.3.19)
- only living child, daughter, of an important family; some evidence that her most important social role is marriagability: adults discuss marriagability among themselves (Paris, Capulet 1.2) and with her (Nurse, Cís Wife. 1.3); Friar L. comments on pot
ential political advantages to her marriage to R (2.2.91-92); but there is still some expectation (if inconsistent) that she should exercise choice (Capulet to Paris 1.2.17; Juliet to Cís Wife 3.5.118-119)
- only living child of one of the two most important families in Verona, the families are apparently second in status only to the Prince
important relationships with chars. on stage during speech:
- seems fat ("a sail 2.3.96) and old ("ancient lady" 2.3.134) to Romeo and Mercutio, and her bones, back and head ache might (or might not) be sincere (2.4), but she had a child the same age as Juliet (1.3.21) and seems not to have been a
virgin much past age 12 (1.3.2) so could be of similar age to Capís Wife;
- Julietís wet-nurse (1.3.28),
- Jís confidante & servant/accomplice (J. sends her to R. about the wedding, Nurse assists concealing wedding from parents, brings the cords for R. to enter Jís room);
- Nurse has status as Jís caregiver: Capís wife expects her to know where J. is (1.3.1), N. tells the story of J.ís (weaning 1.3), in the presence of Jís mother, who was away with father in Mantua at the time; also, early in the play, N. still tells emb
arrassing stories about J (1.3), and teases her (2.4);
- after Tybaltís murder N. curses Romeo ("shame come to Romeo 3.2.90)
important relationships with chars. mentioned in speech:
- a Montague (enemy of the family, opposite side of the feud); met him less than 24 hours ago; proposed to him the same night; married him this afternoon; is anxious to consummate their marriage; feared for his life a few moments ago; just learned he ki
lled her cousin; accused him of deceit; admonished herself for slandering him
- cousin (ie. blood relation); "my dearest cousin" (3.2.66); just learned he is dead, killed by R.; when she learned of his death, her response was "O God, did Romeoís hand shed Tybaltís blood?" (3.2.70)
- refers to himself as old (past his "dancing days" 1.4.144 Ė it has been "five-and-twenty years" since he wore a mask 1.4.150
- J. is his his only child (1.2.14); he thinks she is too young to marry and wants her suitor to delay (1.2.8-11); says she should have influence in the choice of her husband (1.2.19)
- J. was born when she was "much upon these years/ That" Juliet is now: sheís in her late twenties
- didnít nurse her; was out of town when she was weaned; relays fatherís messages (tells J. of Parisí suit, and of betrothal); expects Nurse to keep track of J. and summon her when she wants to see her (1.3.1); encourages J. to see Paris as attractive (
Other important relationships:
- Julietís confessor (2.4.66 Ė though not yet mentioned at 3.2)
- though he and J. havenít met on stage yet, J. has been told that heíd like to marry her and that he is attractive (1.3)
What has the speaker done up to this point in the play?
Follow the guidelines for plot summary.
- tells her mother she will look at Paris at her parentsí party, and will try to like Paris to the extent that her motherís consent allows (1.3.99-101), although she describes marriage as "an honour that I dream not of" 1.3.68
- meets Romeo at the party
- lets Romeo (encouraged him to?) kiss her (1.4.218-223)
- sends the Nurse to discover his identity, conceals her disappointment that he is a Montague from the Nurse
- laments later (she thinks privately) that R.& her family names make them enemies when she wants to be Rís lover
- discovers a strange man outside her window, finds it is Romeo, asks how he got there
- says sheís embarrassed Romeo overheard her, asks if he loves her, says her easy "yielding" (2.1.148) is not a sign of "light love" (2.1.149)
- prevents R. from swearing his love, avoids exchanging vows with R.
- instructs Romeo to send word, via her messenger, if he loves her honourably, where and when theyíll be married; if he doesnít love her honourably, to leave her alone; this while stalling the Nurse (who is calling her)
- says goodnight to R. but returns and calls him back, says sheís forgotten why, says goodnight again
- the next day, waits for the Nurse to return with news from Romeo
- coddles and begs the Nurse to tell, loses her temper
- leaves for Friar Laurenceí cell, following the Nurseís instructions, as if she were going to confession, but actually going to be married to Romeo
- tells FL she is as fortunate as R. is in their marriage; tells R. she loves him too much to say
- goes with FL & R to be married
- summons night, saying she is impatient for Romeo to come to consummate their marriage
- asks the Nurse for her news, misunderstands Nurseís confused information, believes Romeo has killed himself, mourns him, believes Tybalt is dead too
- learns Romeo killed Tybalt, calls R. deceitful
- curses Nurse for cursing Romeo, reprimands herself for "chiding" (3.2.95) Romeo
What time of day is it?
- late afternoon/early evening: Juliet sent the Nurse to Romeo for news at 9am (2.4.1), and went to meet Romeo shortly before lunch ("dinner" 2.4.76), since then R & J have married, a short time later Romeo killed Tybalt ("an hour&quo
t; 3.1.112-113), the sun is still up (3.2.1-2), and J. refers to herself as Rís "three hours wife" (3.2.99)
Where does the scene take place?
- no definite evidence
- likely outdoors, since J. is talking to &about the sky at the beginning of 3.2
- not in Jís room at any rate, since that is where J. is going at the end of the scene (3.2.136-138)
- possibly in an orchard, since the Cap. property seems to be surrounded by "orchard walls" (2.1.106) which R. had to climb to meet J.; there may be ironic resonance to staging this exterior scene in the same location as the balcony scene
Who is on stage?
Why is everyone here? (What kind of an event is this: a wedding? A hunting party? An accidental meeting)
- Juliet was waiting for night to come, for Romeo to come & consummate marriage; also, implicitly (since she knew of Nís errand 3.2.35) for the Nurseís return
- Nurse was on an errand to fetch the cord ladder for R. to climb to Jís window (2.4.72, 3.2.35), and is coming now as well to tell J. that R. killed Tybalt
What happened immediately before the beginning of the speech? (On stage & off)
Immediately is the operative word here Ė specifically, within the beat of action I assigned.
- in response to Jís reprimand re: Nís curse on R., Nurse asks J. if J. will "speak well" (3.2.96) of her cousinís murderer
What happens immediately after the end of the speech? (Be sure you deal with the text I have given you.)
- N. says Jís father & mother are mourning Tybalt, asks J. if sheíll join them, offers to take her
- J. says sheíll cry longer for Rís banishment than her parents will for Tís death; orders N to pick up ropes and follow her to her bed; says death rather than R. will take her virginity
- N. says sheíll get R., who is at FLís cell, and bring him to J.
- J. gives N. a ring for R. and says to tell him to come and say goodbye
What is the main topic of the beat of action (immediately before+speech+immediately after)
- Julietís loyalty to Romeo over her blood relations
- the nature of Julietís family
Underline key words in the text and look them up in the OED. Mark anything odd or interesting that you notice.
It can be very useful to group words which have similar meanings or which are closely linked in the text:
- husband, wife, cousin, father, mother
- death, dead, slain, kill, killed, murdered, banished
- woe, grief, lamentation
- end, limit, measure, bound, (sound)
Look especially for words that are used in an odd context (they usually have important metaphorical resonance):
- ranked (to rank woe with other griefs?)
- rearward (a rearward following Tybaltís death?)
- modern (a modern lamentation?)
Words that are often repeated are usually significant:
- husband, wife, cousin, father, mother
- death, dead, slain, kill, killed, murdered, banished
Err on the side of caution: there are words which mean something different now than they did to Shakespeare, or that have unfamiliar secondary meanings:
- sound: sound you need in the sense of measure the depth: OED verb 2, sense 2.a Naut. To employ the line and lead, or other appropriate means, in order to ascertain the depth of the sea, a
channel, etc., or the nature of the bottom. Also fig. (you will have heard the expression "to sound the depths")
- rank: you want "rank" in the military sense, and in the sense of "flank": OED verb 1 sense 1a, and especially 2.c "Surrounded or bounded with rows or ranks" -- their earliest example at 1.c is from 1612 (after this play was writte
n) but it's from Shakespeare, so it's fair game; there are earlier examples for sense 1a.
Exercise your judgement about the usage of a word based on its context in the speech:
- A common observation was that the word "villain" can be used as a term of endearment Ė itís possible Juliet uses it in this way, but I think if Juliet can speak endearingly of Romeo at the beginning of the speech, the action of the speech is
short-circuited: if Romeoís murder of Tybalt is not genuinely villainous, Juliet has no problem to resolve in the speech.
What is the main topic of the speech?
- Romeo's status in Juliet's family (new and old)
Mark each time the speaker changes minor topics in the speech.
Iíve divided the topics into minor and even more minor, and sometimes given alternative descriptions of the topics:
Topic 1: Tybalt, not Romeo, is the villain
- 11. 97-99 how J. speaks about R. (J. should not speaks ill of R)
- ll. 100-101 why R. killed T.
- 102-107 Jís tears (J. is weeping for the wrong reason)
Topic 2: Romeoís banishment
- 108-112 the word "banished" (the word that upset J was "banished")
- 113-126 the implications of the word "banished"
Topic 3: Jís mother & father
- 127 where Jís father & mother are
Describe the form of the language the speaker is using (register, meter, rhyme, alliteration, etc...). Mark and describe any changes in the form.
- the most direct language (though not entirely devoid of figures, as we have seen) occurs where J. is describing her dilemma (97), the brawl (100-101, 105-107), and introducing her separation from her parents (127 -- I think this one is devoid of figur
- of these, the plainest is line 127 (the last), and I'd nominate line 97 (the first) as the runner-up
- the register is considerably (and increasingly) heightened internally, especially in the extended personification of the word "banished", which is elaborated by several secondary metaphors
- the last line is preceded by a conclusive couplet ("sound and bound" at 125-126)
Please refer to the photocopied page inserted into your exam booklets. I've used secondary stress in my analysis of Juliet's speech -- that's not something I expected any of you to do; I included it to illustrate how often a given syllable might argua
bly be either stressed or unstressed, depending on the reading of the passage in question. You will see, too, though, that some syllables might be either stressed or secondarily stressed, but can't be unstressed; also that some can be unstressed or secon
darily stressed, but can't be stressed. In Julietís speech, itís worth noting the large volume of secondary stresses: I think this is a sign that the pentametre is only barely regular: it could reasonably be interpreted in various ways, and it seems like
ly to fall apart at any moment. You will also notice that, in my scansion, I have disagreed with the Oxford editor about the pronunciation of the third syllable of the word "banished": Professor Levinson favours the three-syllable "banish&e
grave;d", I favour the two-syllable "banished". This is a good example of scansion as a matter of taste; her reading is a perfectly reasonable, good scansion of the word.
- lines 125&126 are a couplet "bound" and "sound"
- "dead...banishèd" (internal) 112 -- if you accept the stress on the final syllable of banished
- lines 111 & 112 "banished" and "banished"
- "him...husband" (97)
- "kill...cousin" (100)
- "wherefore weep.../word...was...worser" (107-108)
- "murdered me" "forget it fain" (109)
- "my memory" (110)
- "ten thousand Tybalts. Tybaltís" (114)
- "Was woe" (115)
- "modern lamentation might have moved" (120) -- note internal rhyme in "lamentation"
- "words...woe" (126)
- "poor my lord" (98) Ė loosely
- "cousin" and "husband" (100-101) -- also loosely
Does the speaker use figures? If so, describe them (metaphor, simile, etc...) & mark any changes in the figurative language. (Including marking points where no figures are used).
- "Shall I speak ill..." (97)
- "Ah, poor my lord.../...mangled it?" (270)
- "Wherefore weep I then?" (107)
- "Back, foolish tears..." (102-104) Ė tears can act, move
- "Some word there was.../That murdered me..." (108- 114) Ė a word can kill
- "If sour woe delights in fellowship..." (116-117) "...with a rearward following Tybaltís death" (121-122) Ė woe has feelings; woe sends a rearward in the form of the words "ĎRomeo is banishedí"
- "why followed not.../`Thy fatherí..." (118-121) Ė phrases ("follow" or "rank"
- "`Romeo is banishedí Ė/There is no end.../In that wordís death" (124-126) Ė a phrase owns or causes death
- "...that one word banished/Hath slain ten thousand Tybalts..." (114)
- " to speak that word/Is father, mother, Tybalt, Romeo, Juliet,/All slain..." (123)
- "There is no end, no limit, measure, bound,/....no words can that woe sound." (126)
- husband (4 times)
- Romeo (4 times)
- Tybalt (7 times)
- banished (5 times)
- "...and Romeo banished.í/That Ďbanishedí, that one word Ďbanishedí" (112-113)
- "All slain, all dead" (124)
- "sour woe delights in fellowship" (116) Ė according to our Oxford editor, this was a proverb
- "But wherefore, villain, didst thou kill my cousin?/That villain cousin would have killed my husband." (101)
- "My husband lives that Tybalt would have slain,/And Tybaltís dead that would have slain my husband." (105)
- "...what tongue shall smooth thy name/When I thy three-hours wife have mangled it?" (98-99)
- "Your tributary drops belong to woe,/Which you, mistaking offer up to joy." (103-104)
- "what tongue shall smooth thy name" (97)
To whom is the speaker speaking? Mark points at which the speakerís audience changes
- explicitly at 97 (answering Nís question) and 127 (uses Nís name); implied audience throughout, since N. is on stage, though J. addresses other (absent) audiences directly and at 118 J. is talking about N. in the 3rd person Ė these could
be deliberate rhetorical techniques on Jís part
- l. 98-100 (nb. R. is absent)
- l. 100 not Romeo explicitly (refers to him in 3rd person) Ė could be Nurse, herself, audience
- l. 101-104 Jís tears (metaphorical hearer)
- l. 105 - 107 not Romeo explicitly (refers to him in 3rd person);
- 107- not herself explicitly (talks about herself); Nurse? Audience? Self indirectly?
- seems to answer the question she puts (Wherefore weep I then) l. 108 - 126; if so, is she speaking to the same person/people throughout, ie. not the Nurse (since N. is excluded at 118)?
and say who the audience is (name, age, occupation, social status, relationship to speaker, actions that the speaker knows about to this point in the play, actions that the audience knows about to this point in the play)
- see "Who is the speaker" for notes on relationships to characters mentioned below.
- J. has a habit of speaking to people who are not there (2.1.76) and to metaphorical hearers (3.2.1) when she is alone or thinks she is alone
- Nurse & J. are both aware of all major info. at this point; but Juliet does not know why Romeo killed Tybalt (so she has to assume the extenuating circumstance -- that T. would have killed R. -- that mitigates R.'s crime); the audience does
have this information
- there was misunderstanding just before this: Juliet believed Romeo had killed himself, & then that both he and Tybalt were dead; the audience, having witnessed the brawl scene, knew the truth
- Nurse, despite their closeness, has just cursed Romeo and questioned Juliet's family values: "Will you speak well of him that killed your cousin?" (3.2.96)
Mark any evidence of what is happening on stage during the speech. (What is the audience doing? Does the speaker move? Does anyone else move? Or speak? Does time pass more quickly than in life? Slow down?)
Is there anything else odd in the speech? Anything that stands out in any way?
- the last line is a non-sequitur
- J. does not mention Romeoís name (refers to him as "husband") until l.112 (half way through the speech, when she first names his banishment)
- one person observed that the location of this scene is potentially the same location as the balcony scene (inside the Capulet walls with Juliet's balcony in sight); if so, it therefore recalls the forging of the alliance between R&J just at the mo
ment when that alliance is most severely tested Ė this technique of using space to echo other on-stage actions is sometimes called "poetry of the theatre"
Summarise your evidence in the form of a scenario. Put it together in the form of a story.
- some very creative work was done here
- one example vividly captured Julietís passion by translating her speech into contemporary language
- one example ended by posing a question which represented Julietís dilemma as she begins to speak (re: Romeo vs. her family: "Who is more important to her?")
Part 1 Grading Scheme:
A+: detailed, precise, sophisticated
A: thorough, precise, insightful
B: complete, accurate, consistent
C: mostly complete, mainly accurate, some inconsistencies or misunderstandings
D: partially complete with significant gaps, some accurate observations, some significant misreadings
F: incomplete, inaccurate
2. PERFORM THE FOLLOWING ANALYSIS:
In this section Iíve given my answer, followed by good alternatives suggested by the class
What is the speakerís biggest problem in the play (a clue to main obstacle)?
- family obligations (marry who they choose); family history (feud with Montagues); unreasonable family behaviour
How does the speaker react to the problem (a clue to main action)?
- marries Romeo even though heís a family enemy; takes the potion to avoid marrying Paris; kills herself
Why is the problem a problem (a clue to super-objective)?
- J. has not thought of marriage; likes someone other than parents chose; is not bound by parentís feud
Name the speakerís super-objective,
- to choose independently
- to love and be loved with honour (this may be better than my answer)
- her familyís power to control her life
- family obligations (to hate certain people and ally with others)
and main action
- to rebel
- to refuse her name
- to deceive her family
What is the speaker doing in the speech (clue to action)?
- making Romeo more important than her family
- responding to the Nurseís question
What problem is the speaker trying to overcome by doing that (clue to obstacle)?
- the conflict between Romeo as her husband and Romeo as the murderer of her cousin (ie. Romeo the villain)
- doubt, both her own and the Nurseís, that she did do the right thing by marrying her enemy
Why is the speaker trying to overcome this problem (clue to objective)?
- she is married to Romeo
- she has to Ė she has no choice: she can either support & remain faithful to Romeo or conform to her familyís values, but not both
Name the speakerís objective, obstacle and action for the speech.
- resolve Romeoís identity: cousin-killer or husband
- convince Nurse of her right loyalty to Romeo
- decide between family ties and Romeo Ė which is more important?
- the Nurse believes Romeo is the enemy of Juliet's family (and she's right)
- Juliet's family (represented by Nurse) rejects and condemns Romeo
- Juliet doubts her decision to marry her enemy
- champion Romeo
- clear Romeo's name and honour
- smooth Romeo's name
- prove Nurse wrong
Does the speaker achieve his or her objective?
- one person pointed out that if J's objective is to convince the Nurse, it's not this speech but the next that causes N. to change sides; so J. in that case doesn't achieve her objective
How does the speech respond to the event immediately before it?
- literally responds to Nurseís rhetorical question with an equal and opposite rhetorical force
How does it cause the event immediately after it?
- literally requires Nurse to answer
- introduces her next step: to separate herself from parents
- one extremely interesting interpretation of the link between the last line of the speech and the end of the beat was that Juliet is asking where her parents are in order to ensure that they're not around when she kills herself -- this reading has two
virtues: one is that it pro the direct link between J's next thought ("death, not Romeo, take my maidenhead") and the hyperbolical extremity of J's last thought (the hyperbolical worst-ness of R's banishment, culminating in the rhyming couplet); also that
it takes those two positions seriously and concretely, and therefore humanly: it allows Juliet to mean what she says, and therefore to have limited perspective as a character, which, of course, in no way undermines the resonance of the action for the aud
ience. We must, however, also take note of the effect of the Nurse's speech here, too -- she asks Juliet if she will join her parents (it seems she's missed the point?), which fuels Juliet's next hyperbolical threat ("death, not Romeo...")
What effect does the presence or absence of other on-stage characters have on the speaker(s)?
- Romeo absent: accentuates their separation?
- parents absent: allows Juliet liscence to speak
- Nurse present: Juliet is speaking to her implicitly throughout speech; Nurse provides J. with a concrete challenge against which to defend Romeo
What happens between characters, or as a result of what the characters do to one another?
- Juliet creates & defends her own value system
- the Nurse is convinced to continue to help Juliet (one person observed that this serves the Nurse's purposes as well: how would she explain to the Capulets that Juliet was locked up in her room with a rope-ladder waiting to die?)
- perception (J's and N's) of the situation is changed
Line of Action
Identify the crisis-point
- "Two households...From ancient grudge break to new mutiny" (1.1.3)
- brawl breaks out for the third time between servants
- Julietís decision to align herself with her husband (a social alliance rather than her family (a blood alliance) (3.2.97-126)
- Romeo kills Tybalt/Romeo's banishment were acceptable proposals
and the conclusion of the play
- the story of "Juliet and her Romeo" is elevated to the level of myth; a new way of structuring the society (it is the saddest ever; it must be talked of more) (5.3.307-310)
- Capulet and Montague promise each other that their childrenís "figures" will be valued greatly by others
- "O brother Montague, give me thy hand" (5.3.296)
Define the line of action of the play.
- to order society/ to civilise
- to love despite hate
- to resolve the feud between Montague/Capulet
- to love honourably
Say how this beat of action contributes to that journey, ie. say why this beat MUST happen in order for the final action of the play to be possible.
Part 2 Grading Scheme:
A+: detailed; insightful application of evidence; theatrical, imaginative conclusions
A: thorough, rigorous use of evidence; well-supported conclusions
B: complete; attention to evidence; reasonable conclusions
C: mainly complete; reference to evidence; on the right track
D: significant gaps in evidence; inadequately supported conclusions
F: incomplete; little or no application of evidence; significant misreadings
Here's an example of an excellent essay written by one student in the class (on Friar Lawrence's speech). Note that it is clear, well-structured, and uses evidence selectively.
The speech I must analyse is Friar Laurenceís speech at 5.3.229-269 of Romeo and Juliet. I must explain his objective, obstacle, and action. I say that his objective is forgiveness Ė by others and by himself; his obstacle is the presence of dead bodi
es Ė ones whose deaths his main action of marrying Romeo to Juliet has something to do with; his action is to blame fate. I will prove that these three things make up his "character beat" by looking at how the context of the speech provides an
indication of the Friarís stats of mind, how the speech itself pushes the responsibility for the dead bodies away from people and on to fate, and how the characterís through-line led him to where he is now. I will proceed in the order of objective, obsta
His objective is forgiveness. He is the greatest party of suspicion (223), and yet he feels that he did everything he could. Still, he was found "trembling, sighing, and weeping" by the night watch. He is very shaken up, overcome with grie
f and guilt. At the end of the speech, he offers himself up for punishment (266-69). He is not just trying to be "excused" from punishment. He wants to know that it is okay, and that people forgive him for keeping Romeo and Julietís marriage
a secret. He says at 226-27 "...here I stand, both to impeach and purge/ Myself condemned and myself excused." The use of the words "condemned" and "excused" instead of "guilty" and "innocent" indicates
that the Friar is aware of these as the two possible out comes. If he is condemned, he wants to impeach himself. He knows he is guilty of what they suspect him of. If he is excused, he wants to purge himself. In other words, he will not be satisfied j
ust by being excused; he wants to make up for it.
Now I will talk about his obstacle, the dead bodies. This is where the character-line comes in. He married Romeo and Juliet, and every action he takes in the play is a way of letting them be married: stopping Capulet from marrying Juliet to Paris, se
nding letters to Romeo, etc. To do all this, he had to keep their wedding a secret. If the Montagues and Capulets had found out earlier on that he married their children behind their backs, their image of him as a "holy man" might have been al
tered. His social position as a Friar might be enough in this case to get him off the hook technically (see line 270), but his involvement in this situation still looks bad. The presence of these dead people on stage is something he has to account for.
They are his obstacle.
Despite the fact that the friar feels very bad about guiding the marriage, given the seeming results of his doing so, he still feels that there was nothing he could do that he didnít try Ė he wants people to know that bad luck is the culprit. His acti
on is to blame fate. He draws attention to his age many times Ė perhaps for pity. He uses words that denote fate again and again. (eg. untimely; work of heaven, etc.) He puts himself in the same boat as Capulet: they both tried to ease Julietís suffer
ing. He uses sentence constructions that shift attention away from human involvement (eg. "new-made bridegroom; "Untimely death/Banished Romeo."). He draws the Nurse into the situation. He tries to make it seem that everyone was involved
, and there was nothing they could do. He blames fate.
In drawing attention to the fact that no one is responsible individually, the friarís story offers hope for a sense of collective responsibility. Thatís how it contributes to the line of action on a whole. I have proven that he blames fate to overcom
e his involvement, so he can feel a sense of forgiveness, by using evidence from the speech and play.
Use of evidence
Essay Grading Scheme:
A+: insightful analysis of textual citations; balanced structure; elegant and clear
A: thorough & rigorous use of evidence; well-structured; clear & engaging
B: good use of evidence; consistent structure; clear
C: reference to evidence; inconsistent structure; understandable
D: little use of evidence; confusing structure; difficult to follow
F: generalisations only; unstructured; unintelligible