Romeo and Juliet (Film 1968)

Romeo and Juliet (Film 1968) Summary and Analysis of Section 3: Romeo Tells Friar Lawrence About Juliet - The Wedding


The sun rises. Out in a field, Friar Lawrence harvests plants in a basket. He inspects a few, even biting at one, before Romeo finds and greets him fondly. The Friar asks why Romeo is up so early, and Romeo admits he never went to bed. Lawrence asks if he’s been with Rosaline, the girl with whom he was in love at the story’s start, but Romeo says he’s forgotten her entirely. He admits he was at the Capulets', where he fell in love with Juliet, and she with him. He asks the Friar to marry them. The Friar is shocked and frustrated that Romeo has jumped from one love to another so quickly. Romeo pleads with him as they walk to the chapel together, and the Friar concedes that their love could solve the feud between the families and agrees to marry them. Romeo is overjoyed and grateful.

Mercutio and Benvolio wait for Romeo together. Mercutio hears that Tybalt sent a letter to the Montagues’ house and speculates that it’s a challenge that Romeo will answer. They head into the street and find Romeo, whom they accuse of abandoning them the night before. He counters that he had a legitimate excuse (meeting with Juliet). Mercutio and his other friends make fun of him, but stop when they see the Nurse coming. She is dressed in a flowing gown with a sizable train behind her which Peter holds aloft. The boys call out to her, yelling "Sail!", likening her to a large ship. She greets them and banters with Mercutio, who impersonates a maiden sewing a cloth and makes a sexual joke, which makes the Nurse laugh before she recomposes herself. She asks to speak with Romeo, who obliges. She takes him aside, but before she can speak to him, Mercutio comes up behind her and lifts her skirt. She turns and strikes him, and the boys antagonize her in return. Mercutio lifts her veil over his head and spins her around, eventually pulling it off and knocking her to the ground. She cries out and admonishes them as they flee. Romeo helps her stand and dusts her off. Enraged, she threatens Mercutio if he ever comes after her like that again. Peter is overcome with the laughter at the entire ordeal, and the Nurse strikes him for not helping and takes Romeo into the chapel.

Inside, she facades as a pious woman seeking to pray. Together, she and Romeo kneel and fold their hands. She tells him that Juliet sent her and warns him not to deceive her, as it would be cruel. He swears that he won’t, and asks that Juliet meet him and the Friar that afternoon so that they may marry. The Nurse squeals in delight, and Romeo attempts to give her some money for her trouble. She waves it off, but when he goes to place it instead in the donation box next to her, she takes it after all. She’s so happy that she pulls Romeo onto her lap, singing Juliet’s praises and saying how unhappy she would’ve been with Paris. They say goodbye, and Romeo allows her to leave first, delighting her with his manners. As the Nurse exits, Romeo briefly runs up the hanging figure of Christ and gestures a kiss at him.

Juliet waits in the garden for the Nurse, lamenting how slow she is. The Nurse arrives with Peter, looking sad and complaining that she aches all over from her errands. She sends Peter away as Juliet helps her inside. Juliet begs her to tell her what Romeo said, and though she begins to, she stops to make sure Juliet’s mother isn’t nearby. Juliet grows angry that the Nurse is stalling, but the nurse sits her down and tells her that instead of confession that day, she should meet Friar Lawrence, who will be waiting with Romeo and will marry the two lovers. Juliet is thrilled and runs off, bidding her farewell.

In the chapel, the Friar hopes that the marriage he’s about to perform won’t end poorly. He warns Romeo to love Juliet in moderation, for great bursts of passion have bad endings, as when fire and gunpowder “kiss.” In comes Juliet, who embraces Romeo passionately. The Friar has to physically separate them from kissing each other incessantly. He advises that they marry quickly and takes Juliet up to the altar. Romeo runs up as well and kneels beside her. An off-screen woman begins singing softly over an organ. The Friar opens his book to officiate. He crosses himself, and Romeo and Juliet do the same. The screen then fades to black, and the word “Intermission” comes onscreen.

Section 3 Analysis

The scene where Mercutio accuses Romeo of abandoning them the night before, and then the boys talk with the Nurse, is rife with sexual innuendos and double entendres, particularly on Mercutio’s part, a reinforcement of his immature nature. When Benvolio asks him to stop making such a scene, Mercutio says, “Thou desirest me to stop in my tale against the hair.” In this instance, “tale” means both his story and, via a pun on "tail," his sexual organ. Benvolio takes the point a step further by replying, “Thou wouldst else have made thy tale large,” a joke about endowment. Later, when the Nurse asks if it’s afternoon, Mercutio says that “the bawdy hand of the dial is now upon the prick of noon.” Again, this is blatantly suggestive, with “bawdy” here meaning “lusty” and “prick” meaning “penis.” The fact that the Nurse momentarily laughs at this joke before stopping herself shows that she has a bawdy side of her own, one that in the public eye isn’t appropriate to show, and certainly not to the Montagues.

Friar Lawrence's role in Romeo and Juliet's tragic relationship is a complicated one. On the one hand, he enables their poor decisions at every turn, agreeing to officiate their wedding in the hope that it will end the feud between their two families, proposing the plan to fake Juliet's death, etc. On the other hand, he remains one of the few voices of reason in the face of the two lovers' overzealousness and irrationality, accusing Romeo of jumping too quickly from loving Rosaline to Juliet, dreading the potential consequences of wedding the lovers in secret, and later attempting to bring Romeo to his senses after he's been sentenced to exile. That the Friar, for all his common sense, ends up being indirectly responsible for Romeo and Juliet's misfortunes shows how the families' feud leads even the most well-intentioned and noble to fateful actions.

There is no shortage of reminders that all of this will end poorly, as touched upon in Section 1. The prologue opens with the narrator flat-out telling us that both Romeo and Juliet are going to die. Then, Romeo himself feels uneasy about crashing the Capulet feast, worried that it will somehow bring about his demise. Now, in Section 3, the Friar expresses similar dread just before marrying the lovers, hoping that what he is about to do won’t have disastrous consequences, which of course it will. The events of Romeo and Juliet consist, on one level, of an intertwined succession of people worrying that their actions might be bad ideas, but doing them anyway. This, of course, is a commentary by Shakespeare that people don’t behave rationally in the face of extreme passion and obsessive love. They may understand that things have the potential to go awry, but they’re not thinking clearly enough to stop them from actually doing so, and so tragedy ensues.

There are a few ways in which the film allows the Nurse to portray herself as a silly, licentious character. Her bout with Mercutio would be one example, as she takes momentary pleasure in his suggestive joke about the hand of time before catching herself. Another would be Romeo attempting to offer her money, which she turns down but then takes anyway when he tries to place it in the offertory box, a funny moment not depicted in Shakespeare's play.

The theme of deception is one of the most poignant and frequent in the film, and one example is the deceptive way in which the Nurse goes about contacting Romeo for Juliet, facading as a pious woman coming to chapel to pray in order to talk to him, and then even pretending to be in a bad mood when she arrives home to tell Juliet the joyous news. Deception is the undercurrent of this entire story, from Romeo masquerading as a party guest, to Juliet pretending to go to confession in order to get married, to her fake death at the end of the film. It's yet another indication of the toxic influence the feud holds over everyone, forcing them into dishonesty in order to realize out their desires.