The Supporting Cast of 'Romeo and Juliet'

Paris, Friar Lawrence, and Others

Romeo and Juliet books open to an illustration of Shakespeare and the lovers

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The plotline of "Romeo and Juliet" revolves around two feuding families: the Montagues and the Capulets. Although most of the characters in the play belong to one of these families, some important characters do not, namely Paris, Friar Lawrence, Mercutio, The Prince, Friar John, and Rosaline.

Paris

Paris is a kinsman to the Prince. Paris expresses his interest in Juliet as a prospective wife. Capulet believes that Paris is an appropriate husband for his daughter and encourages him to propose. With Capulet’s backing, Paris arrogantly believes that Juliet is his. and behaves accordingly.

But Juliet picks Romeo over him because Romeo is more passionate than Paris. We can see this most when Paris comes to grieve at the gave of Juliet. He says

The obsequies that I for thee will keep
Nightly shall be to strew thy grave and weep.

His is a courtly, unpassionate love, almost like he is saying the words he thinks he is supposed to say in this situation. This is contrasted with Romeo, who exclaims,

The time and my intents are savage-wild
More fierce and more inexorable far
Than empty tigers or the roaring sea.

Romeo is speaking from the heart and is in pain at the idea that he has lost the love of his life. 

Friar Lawrence

A religious man and friend to both Romeo and Juliet, the Friar is intent on negotiating a friendship between the Montagues and Capulets to restore peace to Verona. Because he thinks that the joining of Romeo and Juliet in marriage could establish this friendship, he performs their marriage in secret to this end. The Friar is resourceful and has a plan for every occasion. He also has medical knowledge and uses herbs and potions. It is the Friar’s idea for Juliet to drink the potion that makes her appear dead until Romeo can return to Verona to rescue her.

Mercutio

The Prince’s kinsman and a close friend to Romeo, Mercutio is a colorful character who enjoys wordplay and double entendres, particularly of a sexual nature. He does not understand Romeo’s desire for romantic love, believing that sexual love is sufficient. Mercutio can be easily provoked and hates people who are pretentious or vain. Mercutio is one of Shakespeare’s best-loved characters. When standing up for Romeo against Tybalt, Mercutio is slain, uttering the famous line, “A plague on both your houses.” The curse is realized as the plot unfolds.

Prince of Verona

The political leader of Verona and kinsman to Mercutio and Paris, the Prince is intent on keeping peace in Verona. As such, he has a vested interest in establishing a truce between the Montagues and Capulets.

Friar John

Friar John is a holy man employed by Friar Lawrence to deliver a message to Romeo about Juliet’s fake death. Fate causes the Friar to be delayed in a quarantined house and, as a result, the message does not reach Romeo.

Rosaline

Rosaline never appears onstage but is the object of Romeo’s initial infatuation. She is renowned for her beauty and vow of lifelong chastity that prevents her from returning Romeo’s infatuation.