The friar puts on an act pretending he does not know what is actually happening. Therefore we have make believe within the play. The irony can be found once again, this time in the fact that Juliet will go to church just like she was supposed to only in a different hypostasis.
Not as a bride but as a corpse. Thinking that she will actually kill herself ultimately and that the solution provided by the friar is only a pale sign of what will follow makes the scene stronger in terms of psychological tension. The church and its representative are key elements in the act. As the place suited for a marriage ceremony, the church is the location where a new beginning ought to take place. Juliet however despises this potential new beginning and she prefers to annul it, first through a s symbolical gesture and than through a real one. The church remains nevertheless the final destination.
It is important to underline the fact that even dead, Juliet maintains her status of bride in this act. Her father, Lord Capulet says that the groom who took his child is death. Not only the groom, but also the heir.
On the one hand, this phrase can be interpreted in the sense that the family line stops here with the death of their daughter. Furthermore, the family ought to continue to live, at least through the collective memory, as one which has been marked by a tragic event. Death becomes a sad instrument through which the Capulet family gains immortality.
On the other hand, the fact that death is considered to be his heir might be interpreted as a sign of his profound grief and despair. With death as a heir everything is lost, everything is annulled. His future is seen as a complete annulment and this annulment results from the loss of his beloved child.
The Capulet announces Paris that his future bride is dead. The terms that he uses in order to do that are very interesting. He actually says that his daughter, a virgin, was deflowered by death who is now her current owner. It seems that virginity and possession went hand in hand. Owning a woman's body meant owning her as a person.
The reaction of the Capulets faced with their daughter's death is different.
He on the one hand is more self-centered. He declares that the grief caused by his child's gesture will lead to his own death. Lady Capulet on the other side makes an interesting speech and life as a pilgrimage, future and the present. From the point-of-view of the time axis, a child represents the future and stands for hope. The fact that her child committed suicide is a more than relevant sign for the definitive loss of hope.
The father blames death for running that which he calls a glorious day. This could be interpreted as another sign of his selfishness. The wedding day was not important because his child was getting married, stating a new life, but because his child as a Capulet was getting married to an important man.
This may be true to a certain limited extent. The Lord calls the dead girl a martyr and this might make a strong impression on the viewer who understand what is going better than the father who utters this word. In addition he identifies his child with his soul. From this point-of-view his daughter's death is equivalent with his own. This is why death is his heir.
The lamentation of the nurse marks yet another passage since the whole scene becomes a bit chaotic. The chaos is I believe intended, because it is a plastic manifestation of the grief, sorrow and despair that the characters on the scene experience. He is the one who speaks about God, faith in God and heaven.
Once more the playwright brings into discussion the idea of destiny and of God as the supreme instance deciding for the lives of everybody. Under these circumstances it is very easy to see all the characters as simple toys in God's game. Another important theme occurs, the one of personal freedom, that we can connect directly to the one of the power of human will. In Shakespeare's opinion, both seem to be extremely limited.
It is interesting to wonder about what the friar actually believes.
Does he speak about heaven, god and faith because he knows this is the only thing that might help the family feel better but still knowing that everything is a charade meant to serve a just cause? Or does he honestly believe in what he says? His words become ironic if we take into consideration the fact that Juliet will die, and so will Romeo and Paris, all of them innocent, with everything happening with him as an involved witness.
The friar speaks about confusion. Grief and despair usually cause people to behave in a confused manner. This is a subtle manner through which Shakespeare makes a direct connection between passion, feelings and chaos, the incapacity of man to dominate his passions and therefore cause chaos in his life when under the dominion of feeling.
The truth is therefore consequently connected with the use of reason. Reason is a tool meant to help reach a state of balance. The fact that he associates reason with faith is however problematic because usually reason supports doubt regarding the existence of God. But God acts as a good comforting tool in cases of maximum despair such as the one in which your child commits suicide.
They all exit. The nurse is the last one to leave, just as she was the first one to acquire knowledge about the presumed death. In this manner symmetry is created and the scene is perfectly circular. There is a short conversation between the nurse and one of the musicians, with a reference to his instruments case.
We have an intended pun here, with the playwright suggesting that an instrument's box can be fixed while a coffin can not. We may consider it as a hint for what will actually happen next. Music acts as both catalyst for feeling and also as a manner through which one can free himself from a burdening sensation.
One of the characters declares openly that is heart is full of a strong feeling which necessitates the company of music. One of the musicians replies that the situation is not proper, but the scene ends in a sort of peaceful tone, reminding that this is how life is. Once somebody beloved dies, we first suffer and then we go on with our lives. Life's victory is always complete in front of death, despite the numerous losses.
The scene ends with the musicians making a mocking speech about death and tragedy, changing the attention from the death scene to other happier thoughts. Symbolically this means that life goes on no matter what.
It is more than obvious why none of the small exchange scenes which have been analyzed so far can be put out of the play representation since they correspond so much to the realization of the desired atmosphere, tone, temper,…