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Published: 10-10-2019

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Constructing and Portraying the Apothecary’s Character

From the bawdy Mercutio to the gentle Juliet, the characters in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet are colorful, but purposeful. Even the most obscure characters reflect Shakespeare’s calculations in the development of key themes throughout the play. The Apothecary particularly exemplifies a character who appears superfluous outdoors of his part in the plot. However, his conversation with Romeo in Act 5, Scene A single, proves that this is not the case. Rather, Shakespeare’s inclusion of the Apothecary fortifies the themes of fate and society versus the individual. Equally importantly, it unifies the connection amongst symbols and mood.

A single of the foremost themes in Romeo and Juliet is that of fate. This surprise is not lengthy in coming, as the prologue introduces “a pair of star-cross’d lovers” whose deaths were destined to end the feud among their families (1.1.6). From starting to end, celestial authority drives the characters to the closing stage by mingling their situations with dramatic irony. Uninvited and unwelcome, Romeo goes to a celebration held by Lord Montague, his father’s enemy. There, he falls in adore with Montague’s young daughter, Juliet. Both understand as well late that their affections violate their families’ enmity, but the flame of young really like burns so brightly that they marry in secret. At this point, one could interpret fate as a fortuitous force that brings correct adore to the two unlikeliest of youth.

As fate continues to drive the plot, nonetheless, fortune ceases smiling on the lovers. The family feud interferes on their wedding night, when a series of brawls leaves two men dead, one Capulet and 1 Montague, and banishes Romeo from lovely Verona. In his absence, Juliet is hastily betrothed and her wedding arranged. Desperate to stay away from this second undesirable marriage, Juliet seeks the aid of Friar Lawrence, the well-which means clergyman who married her and Romeo. Friar Lawrence gives her a potion that will put her in a death-like sleep, then sends word to Romeo about the scheme. Romeo by no means receives the Friar’s letter, even so, and hears only that his beloved has died. Overcome with anguish, Romeo recalls an impoverished apothecary he had observed earlier. Romeo finds the Apothecary in his eerie shop and convinces him to sell a dram of poison for the price of 40 gold coins. The Apothecary’s consent is the correct beginning of Romeo’s physical demise. Furthermore, it is the fateful blow in determining Juliet’s heartrending death when she wakes to find a lifeless Romeo at her side.

Even though the Apothecary is mostly an instrument of the lovers’ destiny, he is also component of Shakespeare’s thematic representation of fate. It is no coincidence that Romeo was banished to Mantua, whereupon he notices this poor apothecary. Romeo recalls this detail almost immediately following being mislead in believing Juliet is dead. His memory is his enemy as he remembers the thoughts he had when he first saw this apothecary:

Noting this penury, to myself I mentioned,

“An’ if a mad did want a poison now,

Whose sale is present death in Mantua,

Here lives a caitiff wretch would sell it him.” (five.1.49-52)

The Apothecary is so gaunt and ragged that Romeo assumes that the Apothecary’s strength of thoughts is malleable. Even though selling poison is a crime punishable by death, Romeo speculates that the man’s destitution would lead him to be easily swayed.

Romeo’s speculation is right, a truth that tends to one more thematic train running through the play, the struggle amongst an person and his society. The Apothecary is clothed in “tatter’d weeds,” easy rags, and is so deprived of food that his “overwhelming brows” could rival these of famine victims (five.1.39). Regardless of his dire straits, the Apothecary refuses Romeo’s very first offer for the poison by protesting that the law forbids it. Additionally, it is by discomfort of death that he initially refuses to sell Romeo’s personal death to him. Romeo perseveres, even so, observing that “Contempt and beggary hangs upon thy back The planet is not thy buddy, nor the world’s law” (five.1.72-3). In other words, the Apothecary is not bound by the law due to the fact his penury holds him in social contempt. Much more actually, the law is no ally to the Apothecary simply because it checks his company. Romeo’s words also find the Apothecary’s weakness by reasoning that his social oppression is no fault of his personal rather, it is a failing on behalf of a world that “affords no law to make thee wealthy,” or has no counterbalance for the law that restricts the Apothecary’s company (five.1.74). In this respect, Romeo is suggesting that the Apothecary has a right to fulfill his requirements, even unlawfully, simply because they have been so grossly neglected.

The moral problems of promoting the poison to Romeo are also relevant to the theme of the individual’s struggle against society. Although the Apothecary is nicely conscious of the consequences of promoting Romeo his poison, he only resists Romeo’s offer you as soon as. As they make the exchange, the Apothecary defends his humanity, insisting “My poverty, but not my will, consents” (five.1.75). With this the Apothecary acknowledges that he is trading a single type of poverty for yet another. That is, his destitution does not dissipate with his economic obtain it merely takes the kind of moral bankruptcy. The Apothecary’s nonexistent guilt for promoting death to the despairing Romeo is also indicated by his brevity, for he says nothing else on the moral matter. Rather, it is Romeo who recognizes the immorality in the exchange, saying:

There is thy gold, worse poison to men’s souls,

Carrying out much more murther in this loathsome planet,

Than these poor compounds that thou mayest not sell.

I sell thee poison, thou hast sold me none. (five.1.80-four)

Romeo’s speech identifies the correct poison as funds, and observes that society’s ban on promoting poison is ill-applied, thinking about how much much more evil is brought about by cash. The Apothecary is only a pawn in the scheme of this moral theme, but this lowly position is enough to demonstrate that society, and not the person, is as destitute as the Apothecary. Interestingly, Romeo’s final line condemns not the Apothecary, but himself and also society as these guilty of the crime.

In addition to employing the Apothecary as a thematic reinforcement in the play, Shakespeare also depends upon his characterization in Act 5, Scene 1, to produce a really particular mood that reflects its view on poison. Romeo’s description of the Apothecary and his shop has a potent impact on the mood. According to him, the Apothecary is a walking cadaver. As far as his shop, Romeo notes that it homes a creepy collection of animal skins, a tortoise shell, “Remnants of packthread, and old cakes of roses” (five.1.42). The shop appears all but abandoned as Romeo approaches it, and when the Apothecary appears, Romeo might as properly be speaking to the ghost of a mausoleum. Right here, the Apothecary and his shop represent the evil nature of mortal drugs by means of their own death-like appearances. Just as the Apothecary’s dram of poison meant to drain the life from the veins of the living, his personal lack of cash, what Romeo calls the correct poison, has drained life from him. This is primarily what Romeo indicates when he asks, “Art thou so bare and complete of wretchedness, And fearest to die? Famine is in thy cheeks, need and oppression starveth in thy eyes” (5.1.69-70). In other words, Romeo is saying that the Apothecary is so close to death himself that he has no loss to fear.

The mood of Act Two, Scene Three, is really different from the Apothecary’s debut and is likewise reflective of its view of poison. A pensive friar is selecting herbs in the early morn’s “streaks of light” that precede the sun’s full rise, an event that he provides a striking description of: “fleckled darkness…reels From forth day’s path and Titan’s [fiery] wheels” (2.3.two-four). As the Friar fills his basket, he contemplates the inherent value of herbal drugs, which have a “powerful grace” for healing and hence are good (two.three.15). He duly acknowledges, however, that “stumbling on abuse, Virtue itself turns vice, becoming misapplied” (2.3.20-1). Actually, the Friar is saying that misuse of drugs is as significantly of an evil as correct use is good. Aside from this observation, the all round view is that drugs have healing purposes, which matches the hopeful mood of a dawning day. What Shakespeare clearly illustrates through the thematic and artistic considerable of the Apothecary is the antithesis of this complete concept that only virtues “misapplied” turn to vice (two.3.21). With respect to the function of the Apothecary, his influence is underestimated when we assume that selling the poison will harm no 1 but Romeo. The Apothecary’s mortal dram reeks of such evil intentions that, in taking Romeo’s life, it takes Juliet’s as nicely. As fate would have it, the mood of the Apothecary’s ethereal domain is the foreboding precursor to this tragic conclusion. A single can only hope that, in spite of the ruin of Romeo and his Juliet, the Apothecary spent well his 40 ducats.
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