Character Analysis of the Apothecary in Romeo and Juliet

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Character Analysis of the Apothecary in Romeo and Juliet

This essay will focus on a character analysis of the Apothecary in Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet.” It will discuss the Apothecary’s role and significance in the play’s tragic outcome, and how this minor character contributes to the broader themes of fate and desperation. PapersOwl showcases more free essays that are examples of Romeo And Juliet.

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William Shakespeare has written a variety of different plays ranging from comedies to tragic love stories to plays based on historical events. One of his most recognized plays is none other than the famous Romeo and Juliet. This play, featuring the whirlwind romance of two teenagers, has become a staple for high school teachers to assign to their students to read and analyze. There is a good chance that anybody who took high school English would have most likely studied this play.

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As many know, the play ends with the tragic deaths of young Romeo and Juliet, and the jury is out as to which character is to blame for their deaths. Many would conclude that the Montague and Capulet families, especially the parents of Romeo and Juliet, are at fault as their mutual hate for each other denied the young lovers the chance to be together in the first place. Another theory as to who is to blame for the young couple’s death is the character of Friar Lawrence. Friar Lawrence helped them, married them, and kept their secret affair hidden from the world. His hope was that their union would end the feud between their families, but even though his plan had this result, their deaths were not part of his plan. If one was to analyze Friar Lawrence, one could believe that he would not have wanted or foreseen their deaths. One character who has a minor role but is a major key to the two deaths is the Apothecary. The Apothecary is the one who supplies Romeo with the lethal poison that ends his life. If Romeo had never taken the poison, Juliet would never have stabbed herself to reunite with her lover in death. This notion is highly overlooked by people since he had such a minor role in the play, but his actions are ultimately responsible for Romeo’s and even Juliet’s deaths.

As mentioned earlier, the Apothecary plays a very small role in the play. He appears only in one scene and within that scene, he says a total of seven lines as he converses with Romeo (Shakespeare 5.1). During his dialogue with Romeo, we discover that Romeo is in search of “A dram of poison, such soon-speeding gear/As will disperse itself through all the veins/That the life-weary taker may fall dead” (Shakespeare 5.1.62-64). When first asked to provide Romeo with deadly poison, the Apothecary acknowledges the fact that it is illegal for him to do so. However, a desperate Romeo persists with his request and the Apothecary eventually gives in, stating that “My poverty, but not my will, consents” (Shakespeare 5.1.79). Even in this small amount of dialogue, you can see that the Apothecary’s character and moral compass can be questioned as he is motivated more by the idea of receiving money to aid his poverty-stricken self than the well-being of a person who will fatefully die because of this deadly poison. Compare this to the character of Friar Lawrence, whom people perceive as the one to blame for the deaths of Romeo and Juliet. Friar Lawrence’s motive behind his meddling in Romeo and Juliet’s relationship is to hopefully end the vicious family feud between the two households, which is a selfless act. On the other hand, the Apothecary’s motives for giving Romeo the poison are extremely selfish and purely motivated by the money. If the Apothecary cared for others like Friar Lawrence did, maybe Romeo and Juliet might still be alive.

One peculiar detail to note in Act V, Scene I is that both Romeo and the Apothecary share a sense of desperation. Romeo is extremely desperate to obtain the poison after hearing of Juliet’s death (which isn’t real), that he is willing to do anything to get it, even if that includes breaking the law. Whereas, the Apothecary is not desperate to acquire poison to end his life but is instead willing to do anything to obtain money for his own welfare.

This desperation is also evident in the character of Friar Lawrence, who is equally eager to end the rivalry between the Capulets and the Montagues. Friar Lawrence’s plan to help Romeo and Juliet be together is somewhat elaborate, as he seems to go to any length to help them. These extreme measures include the dubious plan of faking Juliet’s death so she and Romeo can be together. All three of these characters exhibit this persistent need to get what they want, revealing to the audience that they seem to have a somewhat desperate quality in their character.

The Apothecary and Friar Lawrence share the common element of being drug suppliers to both Romeo and Juliet. Friar Lawrence devises a plan to reunite Juliet with Romeo, which includes giving Juliet a drug. This drug not only renders her unconscious for 48 hours but also makes her appear as if she has died, thus fooling her entire family and Count Paris — the man her parents wish her to marry. When she wakes, Romeo is to be waiting in the Capulet tomb to whisk her away from Verona. Unfortunately, the plan does not go as expected when Juliet wakes to find Romeo’s lifeless body – he has taken a lethal drug supplied by the Apothecary. While the motives behind these drugs differ – with Friar Lawrence’s drug meant to help and the Apothecary’s intended to kill – both drugs effectively carry out their purpose; it’s just that Friar Lawrence’s plan fails, and Romeo’s upsetting plan succeeds.

Although the Apothecary plays a minor role in the drama, he still manages to have a significant impact on the entire outcome. A common misconception is that Friar Lawrence should be blamed for the deaths of Romeo and Juliet. However, upon analyzing the Apothecary’s character – his morally wrong and uncaring nature, and his prioritizing personal gain over the welfare of others – it becomes clear that he is the more likely culprit for the tragedy of Romeo and Juliet.

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Character Analysis of the Apothecary in Romeo and Juliet. (2023, Feb 06). Retrieved from