Character Analysis Of The Apothecary In Romeo And Juliet

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. 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.

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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.

Women And Insanity In “The Yellow Wallpaper”

Charlotte Perkins Gilman was born in 1860, a time period when women were treated as objects. Men didn’t pay much attention to them, and they were often dismissed during important events. Women were seen mostly as housewives. After only eleven months of marriage, Gilman’s husband became convinced that she needed rest and willpower to overcome her depression and arranged for her to receive treatment in Philadelphia (Gilman 2). Her experiences inspired her to write “The Yellow Wallpaper”, a piece highlighting the themes of women’s treatment during that time period, as well as the insanity and isolation they experienced.

The two genders, male and female, were considered as “separate spheres,” meaning they were viewed as two distinct types of human beings who interacted only at breakfast and dinner or supper (Gender Roles in the 19th Century). In the 19th century, women were seen as weak, private, dependent, illogical, passive, and timid, often shown to value “domesticity, purity, submissiveness, and piety” (Women in the Nineteenth Century). They were expected to stay at home, care for their children, support their husbands, and adhere to society’s expectations of feminine manners. Women were frequently dismissed, seldom taken seriously, and always expected to obey orders. Education for women was designed to mold them into proper and elegant ladies. If a woman showed too much enthusiasm for intellectual pursuits, she was derogatorily referred to as a “blue-stocking”, considered an unfeminine trait (Gender Roles in the 19th Century). Furthermore, women who studied vigorously were labeled as unattractive “dried-up prunes”. They weren’t even allowed to converse with a male unless a married woman was present (Gender Roles in the 19th Century).

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How women were treated in the 19th century was also reflected in how they were medically perceived. Women of that period suffered from a variety of conditions such as anxiety and nervous depression, which were largely due to societal treatment. They were often too readily deemed insane based on societal attitudes, and subsequently institutionalized in mental asylums when their behavior displeased the male-dominated society (Lunacy in the 19th Century). The reasons for admitting women to asylums during the 19th century are seriously questioned in today’s society. However, these institutions were perceived at the time as a means to aid the women confined within them and to rehabilitate them into society by enforcing acceptable female roles (Lunacy in the 19th Century). In an attempt to help address their issues, women were often left alone in solitary confinement with only a bed and barred windows. They were isolated with the belief that the woman herself was the only one who could elevate her emotional and mental state and reintegrate into society. These women were only permitted contact with their physicians and were strictly forbidden from writing. This approach was a spectacular failure, with the women deteriorating further into insanity due to their extreme isolation.

Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s story “The Yellow Wallpaper” draws a stark parallel to the treatment of women in the 19th century. It was written to draw attention to the female plight at the time. Much like the women of the 1800s, the narrator of the story (John’s wife, whose name is never explicitly mentioned) was institutionalized due to “nervous depression” as diagnosed by her husband and brother (Gilman 486). She was only permitted to converse with John and was not allowed to write, emulating the plight of actual women during the 1800s (Gilman 487). As mentioned, women were regularly dismissed and overlooked during this period. This is evident in “The Yellow Wallpaper” when John’s wife states, “you see he does not believe I am sick!” (Gilman 486). Her pleas to leave the asylum are repeatedly ignored by John, who insists that she trust him and that her condition is improving (Gilman 491-492). The narrative reinforces the fact that women forced into isolation tend to deteriorate mentally due to the lack of human contact. This is depicted through John’s wife spiraling further into insanity. She starts hallucinating figures moving in the wallpaper patterns. In the climax of her madness, she rips down the wallpaper to ‘free’ the imaginary person trapped within it (Gilman 496-497).

In conclusion, women in the 19th century were consistently undermined, with their emotions and feelings rarely considered. Men dominated the 1800s, and women had little to no say in any decisions. If they did voice their opinions, they were branded unfeminine, unattractive, and often confined in mental institutions. This was purely based on men’s disapproval of women’s behavior and overall existence. Such unfair and cruel treatment led to a myriad of mental health issues among women, posing as reasons for their perceived ‘insanity’ and isolation. Women in the 1800s were constantly stressed about maintaining proper manners/gestures to be socially acceptable. They were anxious about their demeanor because that was what differentiated them as attractive or unattractive. They were depressed and seeped in despair, caused by the constant strain to adhere to societal standards of perfection, having no certainty of their worth. Isolation was a part and parcel of their existence as they were expected to interact only within their gender and any conversations with men required a chaperone.

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