What Was the Irony in Act IV of “Romeo and Juliet”?


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In Act IV, Scene 1, Juliet arrives at Friar Lawrence’s weeping, where she encounters Paris, who believes she is weeping for Tybalt’s death. In truth, Juliet is weeping because Romeo, her beloved, was responsible for Tybalt’s death and must now leave her. Juliet states in the same scene that she has not yet married Paris, but the spectator is aware that she loves Romeo and has no intention of marrying Paris.

In the second scene, when Juliet informs her parents she will marry Paris, dramatic irony continues. The audience is aware that she intends to flee and marry Romeo instead.

When the Nurse and Lady Capulet discover Juliet comatose in her bed and assume she is dead, Scene IV is the act’s most ironic moment. Audience members are aware that she has ingested a potion to appear dead in order to elope with Romeo. The irony is accentuated by the friar’s statement that Juliet is now in a better place. Audience members are aware that the friar supplied the potion and planned Juliet’s escape with Romeo. Therefore, the better location he refers to is Mantua, not heaven.

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