Mercutio's Impact on Romeo and Juliet

Mercutio's Impact on Romeo and Juliet
In Romeo and Juliet, we see many different and contrasting characters, each playing a specific and individual role and each creating a different and personal effect. Although Mercutio is shown and looked upon as a secondary character, ?Kinsman to the Prince and friend to Romeo?, I believe he plays one of the most important roles in the drama. Shakespeare has been clever in creating Mercutio, as he is not born into either of the conflicting families he acts as just a personal friend to Romeo, this means he has a freer role, and he can do and say things that Romeo and other Montague?s cannot without causing too much aggravation with the enemy. Mercutio has chosen to be friend of Romeo and the Montague family, he does not dislike the Capulets and never in the play wishes to injure any one of them in any way, his main concern is for Romeo and basic peace between the two houses.
It was never his objective to get anyone from either family killed. The first time we see Mercutio, is in Act 1 Scene 4, he and Romeo, together with a group of their friends and kinsmen, are on the way to a party given by their own family?s enemy, Lord Capulet. Their plan is to crash the party so that Romeo will have the opportunity to see his love, Rosaline, whom they know, has been invited to the Capulet?s mansion that evening. Romeo, originally thought the party-crashing would be a wonderful idea, but suddenly is overcome by a sense of great foreboding; although they ?And we mean well in going to this mask; But ?tis no wit to go.? This annoys Mercutio, who does not recognize Romeo?s reluctance as a genuine premonition, but feels it is simply another example of Romeo?s lovesick whims. Romeo tries to explain to Mercutio that it is based upon a very disturbing dream, and Mercutio passes that off as silly, telling him that ?Dreamers often lie.? He is not exactly saying that Romeo is a liar, but that he should not believe in what he sees in his dreams, he dismisses them as idle fantasies. He then realises that Romeo is lovesick, and is feeling depressed, ?Under love?s heavy burden do I sink.? Mercutio is doing his best to cheer him up and raise his spirits, ?You are a lover; borrow Cupid?s wings, and soar with them above a common bound.? He gives friendly advice, which is very helpful but whether Romeo takes heed is his own choice. Despite all of Mercutio?s joking, Romeo does not wish do join the dance, he refuses, it is then that Mercutio begins a speech, he uses very vivid language to create the complex perception of the imaginary character of Queen Mab, ?Her wagon-spokes made of long spiders? legs, The cover of the wings of grasshoppers, The traces of the smallest spider?s web, The collars of the moonshine?s watery beams, Her whip of cricket?s bone, the lash of film.? He describes her appearance and features in a flamboyant and highly expressive style. This shows that Mercutio is intelligent, knowledgeable, and has a powerful imagination. Romeo again dismisses him, ?Peace, peace, Mercutio, peace! Thou talk?st of nothing.? Mercutio is the closest friend to Romeo and plays an important part in his life. He gives advice and is always there for him, whether he is in trouble or whether he is just upset. Their strong bond is shown conscientiously in Act 2 Scene 1, Mercutio is the first of any of Romeo?s friends or relatives to realise that he was deeply in love, ?Romeo! Humours! Madman! Passion! Lover!? he continues, ?Cry but ?Ay me!? pronounce but ?love? and ?dove, Speak to my gossip Venus one fair word?. At this point Mercutio is only teasing Romeo, but we see he does show some real thought, ?My invocation is fair and honest, and in his mistress s? name?, he worry?s about Romeo?s idea of marrying his mistress, Juliet, he does not want any trouble between the two houses. He tries to convince Romeo that it is a bad idea, it will only cause outrage amongst the two families, he is only acting as a good friend and giving his advice. You could question whether his view, that fighting with the Capulets is worse than Romeo losing his love, is a selfish one, but he is entitled to his opinion and I still think he is doing the best for his friend. Romeo however, dismisses Mercutio?s advice which could prove to be one of the biggest mistakes he makes in the play, "A gentleman, that loves to hear himself talk and will speak more in a minute than he will stand to in a month." This seems rather harsh and I think shows Romeo?s immaturity, he does not think things through properly, he does not yet think of the consequences of his actions. He is love-struck, his desire controls his thought and actions, and therefore Mercutio is prevented from saving Romeo and the fighting between the two families. We move on to Act 3 Scene 1, one of the most important scenes in the play, definitely the most important for Mercutio and is the climax of his impact in the play. We can see that Benvolio fears the Capulets and is worried about meeting them, ?I pray thee, good Mercutio, let?s retire: The day is hot, the Capulets abroad, and, if we meet, we shall not scape a brawl; for now, these hot days, is the mad blood stirring.? He can predict a fight and is naturally scared of the consequences, but Mercutio being Mercutio laughs at his apprehension, he does not fear a fight. He accuses Benvolio of being quick-tempered, and blamed him for wishing for a quarrel, ?Thou art like one of those fellows that when he enters the confines of a tavern claps me his sword upon the table and says ?God send me no need of thee!? and by the operation of the second cup draws it on the drawer, when indeed there is no need.? Benvolio is feeling quite the opposite of what Mercutio accuses him of, this is maybe slightly ignorant of Mercutio, his over confidence maybe his only downfall. No sooner than Benvolio predicts the event, the Capulet boys arrive, ?By my head, here come the Capulets!? Mercutio still seems calm and relaxed, he will not worry, ?By my heel, I care not.? Tybalt addresses the two men rudely, asking for Romeo and his whereabouts, ?Mercutio, thou consort?s with Romeo?? Mercutio jokes at Tybalt?s questions, this would usually annoy him but Tybalt ignores these insults and remarks, as his sole aim is to find Romeo, who then turns up on the scene, at the worst time possible. Tybalt leaves Mercutio and Benvolio, ?Well, peace be with you, sir: here comes my man.? He then confronts Romeo, ?Romeo, the hate I bear thee can afford No better term than this, ? thou art a villain? He tells Romeo how much he hates him, Mercutio at this point is concerned for Romeo, but he does not have any idea of what is to come. Romeo tells Tybalt that he cannot fight; he must love him, as Tybalt does not know the truth, ?Tybalt, the reason that I have to love thee, Doth much excuse the appertaining rage, To such a greeting: villain am I none; Therefore farewell; I see thou know?st me not.? Romeo is now married to Juliet and therefore they are family. I believe that not refusing to fight was a foolish move, as a fiery and spiteful character like Tybalt will not accept an apology and peace, he is disgraced at Romeo?s refusal to fight he will not be placated, ?Boy, this shall not excuse the injuries, That thou hast done me; therefore turn and draw.? Mercutio?s advice not to marry Juliet as it would ?cause trouble was exactly right, it would have been smart to have listened as none of this conflict would of happened, but Romeo, foolishly, decided not to take it. At this point, Mercutio cannot stand Romeo submitting to Tybalt?s cruelty, he cannot just watch as his friend is beaten whilst begging for mercy. Mercutio is angered at both men; he draws his sword to fight, ?O calm, dishonourable, vile submission! Alla stoccata carries it away.? Romeo and Benvolio try to stop the two fighting, but to no avail. Mercutio is stabbed by Tybalt. He jokes at his wound, not realising how fatal the damage was, when he does see the wound is more serious than he thought, he tells them to get a surgeon, ?Ay, ay, a scratch, a scratch; marry, ?tis enough. Where is my page? Go, villain, fetch a surgeon? But because of his joking, they did not believe that he was badly hurt, ?Courage, man; the hurt cannot be much.? Romeo would be the first to help him if he saw he was injured, but he does not realise as Mercutio has joked all his life. He tells them, ?Help me into some house, Benvolio, Or I shall faint. A plague o? both your houses! They have made worms? meat of me: I have it, and soundly too: your houses!? Romeo realises that he is dying; he tries to help but to no avail. Mercutio curses both houses, this sets up the rest of the play, Romeo realizes his love for Juliet has made him soft and now seeks revenge on Tybalt who has fled with his men. Romeo goes on to kill Tybalt later that day. It was Tybalt?s brutal return that drove Romeo, acting on emotion, which he does throughout the play, to kill him. Romeo contrasts his earlier effort to avoid confrontation and increasing the dramatic tension in the scene by doing so. He struggles with resisting the urge to fight and then acting on impulse, which is hard to avoid. Tybalt?s death only makes matters worse for him and Juliet, ?And for that offence immediately we do exile him hence?, he is exiled by the prince immediately, banished from Verona forever. This action packed and dramatic scene incurs the first piece of tragedy for the young lovers, it is from this point that their secret relationship goes down hill. Romeo is forced to deal with the reality of his marriage which had not been doing before and it comes as quite a shock to him. He has married a Capulet, his lifetime enemy which of course, he was warned against earlier by his good friend who has now been murdered. He also chooses to avenge a friend?s death rather than spare Juliet?s sorrow and feelings, this shows he is still not ready for a full and committed relationship, he does not know what his main priorities are and this highlights his immaturity. I think the most important thing Mercutio says in this scene is, "A plague o? both your houses!" This gives the audience an idea of the tragedy that is to come and distresses Romeo greatly. Although Mercutio only appears in these few scenes, he does cause great impact on the play, his death and his final words are very important to the story line. He is the most complex and the most intelligent character in the whole play, and I think the impact he creates is far more than Romeo?s or Juliet?s or any other primary character for that matter. Shakespeare did well in assigning Mercutios characteristics and used his freedom well throughout the drama. Romeo and Juliet?s love affair continues to get worse and worse, both families were angrier than ever at each other, ?Which, but their children?s end, nought could remove?. Almost is if a plague was set on both their houses.

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