Study Guide

Romeo and Juliet Act 4, Scene 1

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Act 4, Scene 1

  • Paris has stopped by Friar Laurence's church to make plans for his upcoming marriage to Juliet. The Friar is quietly freaking out, since he's not a big fan of enabling bigamy.
  • Juliet rushes in to see the friar talking with the last person on earth she wants to see: Paris.
  • "Happily met, my lady and my wife," Paris says to Juliet as she enters. It's pretty much downhill from there.
  • Eventually, Paris takes the hint that Juliet needs to make confession to the Friar, and he leaves—but not before giving Juliet an unwanted and uninspiring kiss.
  • Left alone, Juliet … whips out a dagger and tells the Friar she will kill herself if he can't think of a way for her to avoid marrying Paris.
  • Confronted with his second suicidal teen in under 24 hours, Friar Laurence remains calm. Once again, he has a better plan that doesn't involve suicide. (Although, if you ask us, it is still seriously flawed.)
  • He tells Juliet his idea. He knows of a weird potion that will make Juliet appear as if she is dead for "two and forty hours." That's Shakespeare for 42 hours.
  • Conveniently, the Capulets don't actually bury their dead in the ground, which otherwise would kind of screw up the plan. Instead, they stick them in a big tomb.
  • If everyone thinks Juliet is dead, the Friar explains, she won't have to marry Paris. Then he and Romeo can come to the tomb and wait for her to wake up, and then she and Romeo can go to Mantua together. The Friar promises to send a letter to Romeo so he knows what's going on.
  • Juliet thinks this is a great idea, which we can only understand by assuming she's never seen a tragedy in her life. She takes the potion, thanks the Friar, and heads home.

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