The scene can be clearly split into six sections. The first contains Mercutio talking to Benvolio, winding him up. This part of the scene is light-hearted, although Benvolio is worried about the events that may follow due to the hot weather. Mercutio accuses him of being quarrelsome when he himself is the quarreller of the pair. The second section begins when Tybalt enters the scene. He and Mercutio have a battle of words in which Mercutio clearly ties him in knots. The third part starts when Romeo enters and the mood darkens considerably. In the film the tension is built by music and Romeo offers Tybalt a handshake. Tybalt knocks his hand aside and proceeds to beat him. The third, forth and fifth sections are the fight between Mercutio and Tybalt, Romeo’s revenge and the Prince’s judgement.
This scene does not develop the plot of Romeo and Juliet’s love, but seals the fate of it when Romeo slays Tybalt. Fate carries him along and he exclaims “O I am fortune’s fool”. In the film he yells this in the rain before Balthasar comes to take him from the murder scene, which is not the same as in the play where Benvolio urges him to be gone. When the prince decides that Romeo should be banished, the plot accelerates towards its tragic end.
This scene is a turning point in the play, hastening the progression towards the deaths of Romeo and Juliet. The death of Mercutio in this scene removes the subplot. Shakespeare removed him so that he would no longer distract the audience or wondering what humorous comments he would come out with next. With Mercutio and also Tybalt removed, the audience has no choice but to focus on Romeo and Juliet. We do not see Benvolio again after this scene either, though he is presumably alive and well.
The themes that this scene focuses on are love and passion, and nature. As the scene is a major turning point, it is appropriate that it should start with references to heat and passion. Benvolio says to Mercutio that the day is too hot and that trouble is stirring. He is a peacemaker and often narrator when events need explaining to the authorities. Romeo loves Tybalt because they are now related after he married Juliet. This is why he will not be provoked into a fight by Tybalt. The film shows part of the next scene during this one, to contrast Romeo and Juliet’s love with Tybalt’s hatred. The theme of nature appears quite a lot, as a lot of animal imagery is used. Mercutio calls Tybalt “Good King of Cats” and refers to his wound as “a scratch”. Mercutio jokes to his end, saying that he will be a “grave man”, meaning both that he will be serious and in a grave. At this point in the film, Mercutio is portrayed as quite delirious and even a trifle insane.
In the beginning the mood is quite light, but it darkens across the scene. Even the comedian Mercutio turns serious, cursing “a plague on both your houses”. It is quite humorous to begin with, as Mercutio jokes with Benvolio. The film cuts a lot of this out. When Tybalt enters this turns to banter, Mercutio twists Tybalt’s words to make it seem as if he is insulting Mercutio. Romeo’s entry takes the attention away from Mercutio as Tybalt tries to goad and taunt Romeo into a fight. Romeo refuses and this angers both Tybalt and Mercutio. There is confusion as these two fight and Mercutio is stabbed. In the film Tybalt brutally beats Romeo up, and Mercutio steps in. The end is very dramatic with Mercutio dying and cursing the families for their feud. After he is dead there is only Romeo’s rage.
Mercutio’s role in the play comes to an end, as does Tybalt’s. Mercutio is the main character in this scene, joking with everyone, be it light-heartedly or serious. It is because of Mercutio that Romeo loses his temper and kills Tybalt. Benvolio the peacemaker does not draw to “beat down their weapons” as Romeo tells him to. His main role here is at the end when he explains to the Prince what has happened here. Benvolio’s account is not entirely truthful. He exaggerates the innocence of Romeo and leaves out most of Mercutio’s part. Shakespeare included these explanations of what has happened in case his audience had not been paying attention. Tybalt is an angry young man that has been insulted, and wants revenge. He is killed to doom the love of Romeo and Juliet. Lady Capulet stirs the feud at the end, demanding revenge and insisting that more of them were there. The film portrays this particularly well as she lunges at Benvolio.
Shakespeare uses blank verse, prose and rhyming couplets in this scene. Although Mercutio has great status, he talks in prose, perhaps in order to allow more room for him to play with words. He also uses similes and metaphors such as “my fiddlestick” and “deep as a well”. These effectively portray him as a troublemaker who is good with words. Romeo’s language is his usual romantic style, even when he is overcome with fury he talks of Mercutio’s soul. Benvolio talks in blank verse, as he is something of a boring character, but quite important to the play. The film kept Shakespeare’s language, although much of it was cut.
Romeo and Juliet as a play was very much influenced by the time in which it was written. Sword fighting was still popular, so Shakespeare included fighting scenes and also some fencing terms, which are no longer in use. Another term that is no longer in use is “fee-simple”. This is a legal term from the time, which has no certain definition. The film misses out all of these terms to avoid confusing the viewer.