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SCENE SUMMARY AND NOTES
Act III, Scene 3
Romeo, after the death of Tybalt, takes refuge in the Friar’s cell to seek his advice. The priest informs him about the Prince’s verdict. Romeo at first prefers death to banishment, but the Friar once again advises him to have patience. They hear a knock on the door, and the Nurse enters. Seeing Romeo stretched out on the floor, she laments that Juliet is in the same state, “blubbering and weeping. Weeping and blubbering.”. Romeo asks her whether Juliet considers him a murderer. The Nurse replies that she does nothing but weep and call out his name. On hearing this, Romeo draws his dagger to kill himself, but the Friar stops him (but Shakespeare has planted the seed of suicide). The Friar tells Romeo to be brave like a man. He instructs him to go to Juliet, stay with her for the night, and leave in disguise at daybreak. He further tells Romeo to go to Mantua and remain there until he receives news from the Friar. He also instructs the Nurse to notify Juliet of Romeo’s coming and to see that everyone in the house is in bed at that time.
The Nurse gives Juliet’s ring to Romeo and tells him to hurry after her. At the thought of seeing his dear wife, Romeo brightens. The Friar is delighted over Romeo’s revival and promises to send his servant Balthazar to him in Mantua from time to time in order to keep him informed of the course of events in Verona. Romeo leaves the Friar, feeling grateful.
Romeo seeks refuge in the Friar’s cell after killing Tybalt. On receiving the news about his banishment, Romeo, in a frenzy, rages wildly and flings himself upon the ground weeping. Friar advises him to be calm and philosophical. When Romeo threatens to stab himself to atone for the misery he has caused Juliet, the Friar rebukes him roundly for his uncontrolled behavior saying, “Thy tears are womanish, thy wild acts denote/The unreasonable fury of a beast”.
The Friar then unfolds a plan for Romeo to enable him to make the best of the unfortunate circumstances. Romeo should go to Juliet and comfort her through the night, but he must be careful to leave for Mantua in disguise before daybreak. While Romeo is in Mantua, the Friar will try to have his sentence revoked. He also promises to keep in touch with Romeo in Mantua through his servant Balthasar. The Friar then instructs the Nurse to notify Juliet of Romeo’s coming to her and to see that everyone in the house is in bed.
The Friar’s advice is commendable in the scene. Romeo’s hysterical outbursts disturb the priest, but he keeps himself in control and finds a way to restore Romeo’s sanity by devising a plan for future action. Even the Nurse listens to his wisdom and exclaims, “O, what learnings!”. In contrast to the Friar’s self control, Romeo appears rash and raving. Only Juliet’s ring, the token of her love, calms him down.
The Friar is also contrasted to the Nurse in the previous scene. As she tried to communicate with the distraught Juliet, she was incoherent and caused Juliet more grief. By contrast, the Friar is wise and philosophical, calming Romeo with his sound advice and plans. Both the Nurse and the Friar, with their age and worldly knowledge, remind Romeo that banishment from Verona is a much better sentence than death.