William Shakespeare: Romeo and Juliet

William Shakespeare: Romeo and Juliet
During the past few weeks I have been studying Shakespeare?s play; Romeo and Juliet. In this essay I am going to answer the question; how does Shakespeare use Tybalt as a means of setting the play on its tragic path? One of the undeniable facts of a tragic play is that it always ends in death. Normally there is a catalyst that forces the play towards this outcome and in the case of Romeo and Juliet, the Character is Tybalt. From a very early stage in the play it becomes apparent that Shakespeare has used Tybalt as a means of enhancing the bitterness between the Montague and Capulet families. Tybalt himself is a devout Capulet and it very keen to defend his name whenever he feels it is necessary. Usually this ends up with a fight or scrap with the Montague family. An example of this occurs in act one scene four in which members of the opposite families are on the verge of turning what was a small scrap into something far more brutal. However Benvolio has stepped in and has managed to part the feud for the time being.
This soon changes though with the entrance of Tybalt who declines the offer of peacemaking from Benvolio by saying; ?I hate the word, as I hate hell, all Montague?s, and thee; have at thee coward?. He then proceeds to fight with Benvolio. From this it is suggestive that Shakespeare has used Tybalts line to tell the audience that he is determined to remain enemies with the Capulets, and will on no account make peace with them. The fact that he says this means that he may well be the cause of more fighting, which in turn will lead the play towards a more violent and tragic path. In act one scene five Romeo, the hero of the tragedy, nearly ends up in a feud with Tybalt at a party that the Capulets are holding. Incidentally this is where Romeo first lays eyes on Juliet, who he immediately falls in love with. Tybalt spots Romeo and immediately goes to tell his Uncle, Capulet. In this scene Shakespeare has identified the characters related to the tragic ending, and has deliberately included Tybalt.. Shakespeare uses this scene to establish a hatred between Tybalt and Romeo. This is important because if Shakespeare had chosen not to involve Romeo with Tybalt then it is debatable to whether or not Tybalt would have continued to lead the play towards its tragic path. Enimity between two prominent characters in a tragic play always results in death. Although Tybalt was already causing trouble before Romeos involvement, it was not enough for him alone to force the play down a more tragic path. Shakespeare includes Romeo to, in effect, help Tyabalt achieve this. In this scene however, the fighting is avoided for the time being as Capulet does not see Romeo as a potential threat and much to Tybalts annoyance, firmly states that there will be not fighting at his party. This only makes Tybalt even more eager to get at Romeo and at the end of the scene he says; ?I will withdraw, but this intrusion shall now seeming sweet convert to bitter gall?. In this Shakespeare has hinted that this will not be the last time Tybalt crosses paths with Romeo. Shakespeare has also deliberately set up a potential confrontation between Tyablt and Romeo, the hero of the play. In Tybalt?s eyes, Romeos appearance at the party is an insult to his Capulet name and he is determined to punish him for it. Now that Tybalt is determined to confront Romeo he is unwarily leading the play towards a tragic ending. In act three scene one Tybalt finally gets his chance to confront Romeo by insulting Romeos friend, Mercutio. He sarcastically asks Mercutio if he could have a word with him then mocks him by asking if he ?consorts? with Romeo. By putting Mercutio, (a friend of Romeos) into Tybalts path, Shakespeare has increased the chance of violence and fighting. Evidentaly this is eventually what happens. Mercutio flares up at this insult and before a fight erupts, Romeo enters. Upon seeing Romeo, Tybalt forgets about Mercutio and turns his aggression upon his real target. Tybalt calls Romeo a ?villain? and continues to insult and threaten him. However Romeo is keen to avoid any violence and responds by saying he ?tenders the Capulet name? and that he should ?be satisfied? and not enraged. Mercutio has already been insulted though, and draws his sword, ready to fight Tybalt. Tybalt seizes upon this opportunity and begins to fight and eventually stabs and kills Mercutio before fleeing with his followers. From this it is undeniable that Shakespeare is using Tybalt as a means of setting the play on its tragic path. Tybalt has killed Romeos best friend, and in doing so has set the scene for more violence, more death, and a tragic conclusion. Without Shakespeare involving Tybalt, and using his aggressive personality to catalyze violence between the two families then it is debatable to what other path the play would follow. After Mercutios death, Tybalt re enters to meet, and fight Romeo. Romeo says to him that either himself or Tybalt must die in this fight. By now, it is almost certain that the play is going to end in tragedy as the death of either character will have the same effect on the outcome of the play. Romeo, who is already grieving at the tragic death of his friend at the hands of Tybalt, is eager to get revenge and so this time does not back away from the fight. The two charactors begin to fight, and eventually Tybalt is slain. Shakespeare has used Tybalt for the cause of two deaths, Mercutios and his own, and by now it is too late for the play to conclude with anything other than tradgedy. After killing Tybalt, Romeo realizes what he has done and flees after Benvolio tells him to. Overall I think that Shakespeare uses Tybalts aggressive and violent personality as a means of setting the play on its tragic path. Without Tybalts hatred for Montagues, and determination to fight Romeo, there would probably be no deaths and the play may have followed a much different path. Shakespeare evidently created Tybalt to be the catalyst for violence and disruption between the two families in the play and in turn, because of this the only outcome would be tragedy.

William Shakespeare: Romeo and Juliet 8.4 of 10 on the basis of 4408 Review.