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ACT IV, SCENE I
We find ourselves at Lawrence's cell before Juliet's arrival. Of all people, Paris is with the friar, having come to make plans for his wedding. Friar Lawrence tries to stall him, but we soon realize that he isn't going to disclose the true situation, to Paris, or anyone else. Is this courageous or cowardly? We'll wonder about the friar's courage more in the coming scenes.
Juliet comes running in, and both she and Paris are surprised to see each other. It's plain to see that Paris really loves Juliet. He speaks tenderly to her, and is concerned that she's grieving. When he asks hopefully for a sign of love from her, we can't help but feel sorry for him.
Juliet again talks in circles giving Paris answers that could mean several things. Although she hides her feelings, her tension shows, She abruptly interrupts her talk with Paris to ask the Friar if he can see her right away, or if she should come back. The Friar sends Paris away so that he might counsel Juliet privately.
Once they're alone in the friar's cell, Juliet drops her defenses and cries:
O shut the door, and when thou hast done so, Come weep with me-past hope, past care, past help! (IV, i, 44-45)
Lawrence tells her he knows of her dilemma, but "It strains me past the compass of my wits."
Juliet begs his help. She says God joined her heart to Romeo's, and the Friar joined their hands in marriage. She'd rather kill herself, she declares, than marry someone other than Romeo.
The Friar has to think fast, and the plan he comes up with is a desperate one. They have to stop the marriage, and to do so, they must buy time. Juliet is ready to agree to anything: love and desperation have made her strong.
The Friar lays out his plan. Juliet should go home, ask forgiveness, and agree to marry Paris. The next night, before her wedding, she should make sure she's alone. Then she should drink a drug the Friar will give her. It will make her seem dead for forty-two hours. She'll be placed in the tomb, and he'll send a letter to Romeo. When she wakes up, Romeo will be there to take her to Mantua, where they can live as husband and wife. The Friar will work to have Romeo pardoned and their marriage recognized.
Thankfully, Juliet agrees to the plan.