Mercutio and Benvolio are walking in Verona. Mercutio rejects Benvolio’s suggestion that they should leave the streets as the Capulets are also outside and playfully mocks Benvolio’s attempt to prevent any fighting by characterising him as extraordinarily quarrelsome. As we see in a moment, Mercutio is in fact describing himself, for they soon meet Tybalt and Mercutio deliberately provokes him. Tybalt, however, is looking for Romeo, and, when he enters, Tybalt turns to him and insults him. We know that Tybalt is infuriated by Romeo’s intrusion at Capulet’s party, but to Romeo, newly married to Tybalt’s cousin Juliet (and so now related to Tybalt himself), there seems to be no good reason to quarrel.
It is sadly ironic that Romeo himself does his best to prevent a tragedy though it is the misguided sense of honour of his friend, Mercutio, which brings it about.
We see how Mercutio is conveyed in a ‘fighting mood’ at this point in the play. His petulant manner is misguided as it leads to tragedy. In the older version of the film we observe Mercutio with his sword in an over-excited conduct. In this version we don’t recognise the seriousness of the situation until Tybalt arrives and the argument is steamed by Mercutio’s wit and his ability to mock Tybalt. In the modern version of the film the more serious mood of Mercutio is perceived and we feel the anticipation in the air. We feel expectant of something tragic to occur. Mercutio acts with a more indignant tone and fights back Benvolio’s suggestion of abandoning their stroll with more aggression. Also, the use of guns in the modern version brings about a more solemn atmosphere that a character could be shot dead within a pull of a trigger.
The beginning of this scene in the older version, therefore, brings a bigger shock to the tragedy that is to occur as the tone is more placid and moderate. Also in the newer version the use of the more modern music dramatises the scene further.
We regard the entrance of Tybalt as the start of the argument. Tybalt, who is furious with Romeo, seeks to find him and in contrast with the older version, the modern version conveys Tybalt as more quarrelsome. He takes Romeo’s appearance at the party as a personal insult and determines to avenge it. The use of characters has been well chosen and it is at this point where we can really see the contrast of the characters. Benvolio and Tybalt, the peacemaker and the quarreller, are obvious contrasts. Tybalt is always angry; he seems to think it is up to him to keep the feud alive. In my view this anger is conveyed much more immensely in the modern version and I also believe you can spot the differences of the characters more easily than the older version, as they exaggerate the essential features that make that character to stress the contrasts as Shakespeare tried to achieve.
Tybalt looks for Romeo and in meeting Mercutio; Romeo’s friend abuses Tybalt and mocks him further. His words are significant as they infuriate Tybalt’s anger even more, which makes the tragedy ever more likely. We see how Mercutio is presented in both films and there are quite some differences. Gay, lively, always talking, jesting even in death, he is a clear contrast to Romeo, and though always witty, he has deep feelings which this scene observes. In the up to date version, again, they stress his features much more, making him more gay and lively, for example.
We see in the previous act (act2 scene6), how the play ends so quietly with the marriage of Romeo and Juliet, and furthermore Shakespeare achieves an obvious contrast that follows in the next scene: the idyllic, quiet, secret world of love is shattered by Tybalt. The friars opening words in the previous act are cruelly ironic in view of what does happen later:
“So smile the heaven upon this holy
That after hours with sorrow chide us not…”
The actors have been well chosen in both films but because in my opinion the contrast of the characters in the modern version is more distinguishable I believe the characters are better well chosen in this one.
Tybalt meets with Romeo and labels him as a ‘villain.’ This is a great irony as he is the cause for this trouble, for he is the villain and yet Romeo replies with gentleness stating that there is no reason to quarrel for his name he tenders as dearly as his own for now they are family, not to Tybalt’s knowing though. Romeo is portrayed by both films as quite passionate at this point as he tries to reason with the angry Tybalt.
Mercutio is dismayed by what he takes to be Romeo’s cowardice in refusing to fight, and he himself draws his sword on Tybalt. As Romeo tries to stop them fighting, Mercutio is fatally wounded by Tybalt. In a moment of grim foresight, Romeo sees that this death will cause much sorrow in decades to come, but nevertheless, to avenge his friend’s death, he fights and kills Tybalt.
From at first, we see a moderate Romeo, but the death of Mercutio is too much for him: ‘fire-eyed fury be my conduct now’ he cries and he throws consideration to the winds.
In my perspective the fight in both films are very well portrayed. They are both effective in what they want to achieve, to follow the play and to modernise the fight. Though in my view I believe the older version coveys the fight more effectively. This is because I prefer the use of swords over the use of guns. In my view the sword fight brings about the time in which the play was written and set. The swords fit more conveniently in the style of the language and the characters played. In the modern version you don’t usually associate the use of guns with sophisticated people that speak coherently, as the use of Shakespeare’s language brings. Therefore I would say that the sword fight, in the older version, coveys a more real, dramatic and effective fight.
Mercutio is slain by Tybalt and his comment ‘A plague on both your houses’ is of some significance. The comment suggests that the feud between the two houses is wrong. Mercutio had shown a false sense of honour which, ironically, will contribute to the death of his friend. Therefore the comment he makes is greatly ironic for his death will contribute to the feud further. Mercutio had seemed to turn the play into a comedy at times: it is with his death that we know this is to be a tragedy.
Romeo, in vengeance, slays Tybalt. When he hears of the banishment, he behaves very much like a child, throwing himself to the ground in a frenzy of grief. He has here lost all self-control. It is the friar who brings him to himself and shows him what he must now do. When he hears of Juliet’s death in Mantua, he reacts immediately, without waiting a moment to consider what is the best thing to do. As he rushed into marriage, collapsed into grief, so now he decides instantly to return to Verona and kill himself.
The passion and impetuosity that lurk in Romeo are his most distinctive features, and, to an extent, they are responsible for the tragedy which overwhelms the lovers. His impetuosity makes him slay Tybalt, of which he is then banished, and he hears the wrong story that Juliet is dead, so he decides to kill himself. If he had been a little less hasty all would have been well. The marriage also characterises his impetuosity as well as his going to the Capulet party, which fuelled Tybalt’s anger.
“This day’s black fate on moe days doth depend.
This but begins the woe others must end.”
Romeo decides not to take things into his own hands but because of Tybalt’s arrival he can not resist his friend’s doing and slays Tybalt. If he had listened to his words and not attacked Tybalt all would have been well. He abandoned his conscience and this lead to his downfall. His conscience told him to let fate deal with Tybalt’s deadly deed but his actions spoke louder than his thoughts. If he had not killed Tybalt, Tybalt would have been sentenced by the law and Romeo and Juliet may have survived, together.
After Mercutio and Tybalt are slain Lady Capulet arrives blaming Montague for the tragedy of Tybalt, her cousin. It is unsurprising that she should blame it all on her family’s enemy. It is Lady Capulet’s coldness that is greatly significant. Her proposal that her daughter, Juliet, was to marry Paris, a young gentleman, is very significant. This led to the friar’s plan of Juliet’s supposed death. News to Romeo that Juliet was dead brought about his death and the suicide death of Juliet.
Overall, I would say that both film productions are very effective. In my perspective I believe that the older version is more effective because it is more realistic. Though I would say that the characters are better emphasised in the modern version I would say the the use of weapons, scenery and development brought about a better adaptation of the play in the older version. On a whole I would say that this act3 scene1 is an essential turning point in the play.
In this scene Romeo kills Tybalt. As a result of this, Romeo has to flee to Mantua. No sooner has he left than Juliet is faced with the new problem of the proposed marriage to Paris. The friar endeavours to solve this with his scheme of the potion, but Romeo is wrongly informed that Juliet is really dead, and all is lost. We have thus a clear pivot in action in act3 scene1. If the deaths of Mercutio and Tybalt were not brought about there would have been a happier ending than the one we see.
In making a more effective film I would modernise it like the newer version and I would translate the use of Shakespeare language to today’s ‘sophisticated’ vocabulary which would make it much more realistic. The two families would be prominent gangs, such as the mafia and they would be associated with the law which would result in leniency towards murders committed against each other.