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    How does Shakespeare use Mercutio in act 3 scene 1? Essay

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    Shakespeare uses Mercutio in several ways in act 3 scene 1. He uses him to introduce the likelihood of a fight, to escalate an already explosive situation and to further the plot. His actions in this scene turn the whole play around from comedy to certain tragedy, Mercutio’s death speech.

    Benvolio and Mercutio introduce the topic of the likelihood of a fight.

    “The day is hot, the Capulets are abroad,

    And if we meet we shall not ‘scape a brawl,” Benvolio talks of how hot it is and how there is anger between the Capulets and the Montagues. He says that the Capulets are around and if they meet they’ll have to fight. Almost all assassinations in Italy are committed during the heat of summer.

    He is trying to talk sense into Mercutio, but Mercutio makes jokes of his level headedness.

    “…and by the operation of the second cup draws

    him on the drawer, when indeed there is no need.” Mercutio taunts Benvolio saying that he isn’t as level headed as he might think. He says that as soon as he gets a few drinks down him he is just as up for a fight, maybe even more so than most. He makes Benvolio forget about wanting to leave because he’s busy trying to defend himself against Mercutio’s accusations. Leading to them meeting the Capulets witch would never have happened if they had decided to leave.

    When Tybalt turns up at the scene he is polite when requesting a word and Mercutio is the one who suggests a fight.

    “And but one word with one of us? Couple it with

    something, make it a word and a blow.” Tybalt doesn’t seem to have come to the scene with the intention to fight Mercutio or Benvolio but in his position he cannot back down. Mercutio is spurring on Tybalt to fight. A fight now seems inevitable, this would not have been possible if it wasn’t for the character of Mercutio.

    Benvolio seems to be making excuses for why they should not be fighting.

    “We talk here in the public haunt of men.

    Either withdraw unto some private place,

    Or reason coldly of your grievances,

    Or else depart. Here all eyes gaze on us.” Benvolio is saying that they shouldn’t be fighting out in the open where they will attract attention. He is partly worried because the prince gave them a last warning abut fighting on the street but he’s also trying to give Mercutio an honourable way out of the fight. Mercutio is quick to dismiss the argument meaning that he has decided to fight.

    When Romeo is trying to make peace with Tybalt, Mercutio sees it as an act of cowardice.

    “O calm, dishonourable, vile submission:

    Alla stoccata carries it away!

    Tybalt, you rat-catcher, will you walk?” He says he will fight for Romeo. He says that submission won’t solve the quarrel but swordplay will end the fight. He challenges Tybalt directly and insults him. Tybalt can’t ignore this and therefore accepts his offer.

    When Mercutio is injured he changes his view.

    “…A plague

    o’ both your houses.” He is now pointing out to the audience that he’s not actually attached (in blood) to either house. Also his speech intensifies the feeling of the stupidity of the feud. He only realises the futility of it all when it’s too late. Mercutio’s death is the pivotal point in the play, turning the play right around to certain tragedy.

    As well as using Mercutio to steer the direction of the play, Shakespeare uses him to insert comedy in to the play.

    “…Though wilt

    quarrel with a man for cracking nuts, having no

    other reason but because thou hast hazel eyes.” He lightens the mood in the audience to give them a break from building tension, high emotions and other serious matters.

    Mercutio is a catalyst to the squabble. He almost single-handedly turns the play. He makes emotions run high whenever he is involved in a confrontation. Even in death he spurs Romeo on to kill Tybalt.

    In version of the play Mercutio is cast as a black man to show that he’s not actually related to either family and to show his relation to the prince or ‘chief of police;’ also a black man. He seems quite serious as well as being comical while proposing the idea of a fight to Tybalt. When he steps in to fight instead of Romeo he’s saving him more than just fighting for him because Tybalt is kicking and punching Romeo, but Romeo refuses to fight. This makes it seem a bit more like he was forced into fighting instead of wanting to. When Tybalt stabs Mercutio he looks like he does it intentionally in the heat of the fight, but regrets it afterwards. During Mercutio’s last speech the sky overhead darkens and a storm begins showing that this is the most crucial part of the play. Mercutio dies dramatically, in Romeo’s arms; showing how much his death means to Romeo and how much it will affect him.

    In Franco Zeffirelli’s version of the play Mercutio starts the scene entertaining and joking. The whole scene is based around Mercutio’s comedy and the whole fight seems playful and harmless. When Mercutio is stabbed, Tybalt falls into him instead of thrusting his blade purposefully. When he withdraws his blade he looks shocked that there is blood on it as though he didn’t mean to hurt Mercutio. When Mercutio is making his speech everyone around is laughing. Because of how much Mercutio jokes normally, they think that he is acting. Romeo looks like he’s unsure whether he’s joking or not when Mercutio starts talking about ‘A plague o’ both your houses.’ No one knows that he’s not joking until he falls and Benvolio announces him as dead.

    I prefer Baz Luhrmann’s version because I think he showed that the characters were teenagers not adults better than in the other film. I like the way he modernised the film but still kept the old dialogue. I also like the way he’s used the weather to show moods in parts of the movie. Young people can relate to this version better. The film shows that these kinds of events still happen; it’s not just something that would happen in Shakespeare’s time. I also like the way he’s used the whether to show moods in parts of the movie.

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    How does Shakespeare use Mercutio in act 3 scene 1? Essay. (2017, Nov 04). Retrieved from

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