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Throughout Romeo and Juliet the tragedy written by William Shakespeare there are examples of tragic heroes. There are seven things needed to be a tragic hero, the character has to be of high rank, originally good, in a conflict, flawed, realize his error too late, become isolated, and produce a caratharis. The Friar in this play expresses and shows all of these traits, and therefore can be considered a tragic hero.
The Friar is of high rank because he is a priest and a priest at that time period was considered to be the highest of all. He is also highly ranked because he was intellectual and could communicate well with others. The Friar is originally good because he tries to marry Romeo and Juliet to unite the two households but it does not work out. He also is originally good because at first he does not think they should rush into things, but he thinks of uniting the households and goes along with the wedding. Here he shows his good intentions in changing his mind about marrying Romeo and Juliet when he says,
O, she knew well
Thy love did read by rote, that could not spell.
But come, young waverer, come go with me.
Inn one respect I?ll thy assistant be;
For this alliance may so be happy prove
To turn you households? rancor to pure love.?(II iv 88-93).
The Friar is in a conflict by involving himself in the whole marriage of Romeo and Juliet. He has to lie to everyone, which is also more trouble for him if he gets caught. He also is involved by not telling anyone about the love between Romeo and Juliet before his good intentions turned into a violent ending. He is also in a conflict because he does not tell the Prince of this and if the Prince finds out the punishment could be death.
Being contradictory to his own words reveals the Friar?s flaws, by first saying that he would not marry Romeo and Juliet and then doing it to unite the families. He is also impatient in marrying them too early. He also should have taken his own advice when he says, ?Revolts from true birth, stumbling on abuse. Virtue itself turns vice, being misapplied And vice sometimes by action dignified.?(II iii 20-23). He realizes his error too late because after the deaths of Romeo and Juliet, he realizes that he never should have married them in the first place and it was wrong to do it without the consent of the parents. The Friar is isolated from the rest of the people of Verona because he must keep the secret of the marriage otherwise he could be punished severely. He must not speak of this to anyone except Romeo who is banished, the Nurse who was no longer trusted by Juliet so she was not in there with them anymore and Juliet was unconscious in her family vault.
The Friar shows caratharis by making the audience feel bad for him when he first tries to do something good and marries Romeo and Juliet. He also makes the reader feel bad for him because the reader hopes at the end when the Prince of Verona is giving out punishments that he does not give a punishment to the Friar because of his well-meaning acts throughout the play. The Prince helps show the Friar?s pain by saying ?For never was there a story of more woe than this of Juliet and her Romeo.?(V iii 309-310).
Therefore the Friar has shown all of the seven traits needed to be a tragic hero and will be considered the tragic hero of this play. Others who could be considered tragic heroes are Romeo, Benvolio and Juliet.