The following sample essay on Capulats reveals arguments and important aspects of this topic. Read this essay’s introduction, body paragraphs and the conclusion below.
Act 3 Scene 1 is the scene in which both Tybalt and Mercutio are killed. As this scene is the exact midpoint of the play, Shakespeare builds up tension and excitement to keep the audience interested in the play. He also uses this scene as a turning point, in which the course of the play changes from romance to tragedy.
At the very start of the scene we are thrown in at the sharp end of a conversation. This is a method used often by Shakespeare, such as in Act 1 Scene 1, to instantly grab the audience’s attention. Instantly, Benvolio sets the scene the scene as a hot, humid day. This creates tension straight away because hot days cause restlessness and makes people irritable. This tension is increased when we hear that the “Capulats are abroad”. Because of this, Benvolio wants to “retire” because he realizes that if they meet the Capulats they “Will not ‘scape a brawl”.
However, true to form, Mercutio laughs at his advice and mocks him. This is ironic because, in hind sight, if Mercutio had taken his advice then he would still be alive.
The tension caused by the expected fight is added to by the fact that the rest of the conversation between Mercutio and Benvolio has been about how ‘hot-headed’ they are, “You are as hot a Jack as any in thy mood”, and about how apt they are to “quarrel”.
The arrival of the Capulats makes a fight look more and more likely and Tybalt’s conversation with Mercutio makes it clear that he does not want to leave without one, “make it a word and a blow”. As Tybalt and Mercutio exchange verbal blows the excitement builds up and a fight seems almost inevitable. This ‘sparring’ between two so-called aristocrats would have been greatly appreciated by a Shakespearian audience. This audience would see the two men facing each other, probably with swords out. A very exiting situation.
It is at that moment that Shakespeare chooses to introduce Romeo to the scene, relieving the tension that had built up between Mercutio and Tybalt. Since Romeo is the person that Tybalt is really after, to punish for crashing the Capulats party, he tries to leave Mercutio and focus on Romeo. “Peace be with you, here comes my man”. As Romeo is the person that Tybalt has been looking for to challenge, once again a fight is expected. It is then a shock when Romeo greets Tybalt as, “good Capulat, whose name I do tender as dearly as my own”. This greatly shocked Mercutio who calls it “dishonorable”.
Honour was a very important factor in Shakespeare’s day and if Romeo doesn’t fight Tybalt then it will be dishonourable, but if he does fight Tybalt who is now his cousin by marriage it would be wrong. The situation that Romeo is in creates a lot of tension as the audience do not know what Romeo will decide to do, whether he will fight or not.
In the end, Romeo’s ties to Juliet prevent him from fighting and the hot headed Mercutio jumps at the chance to take his place and defend his honour, “Tybalt, will you walk?” since both Mercutio and Tybalt have been looking for a fight, one now looks almost inevitable, a very tense situation.
Suddenly “They fight” and the tension turns to excitement while Romeo is trying to stop them as he wants neither dead. “Put thy rapier up”. The excitement is added to by the fact that fighting is forbidden “on pain of death” by the Prince. The excitement that is caused by the fight is kept up by the rapid succession of events; Mercutio’s death, the fight between Romeo and Tybalt, Tybalt’s death and then the fleeing of Romeo from the fight scene.
After all of this excitement the tension is once again built up with the arrival of the Prince “enter Prince” this creates tension because,
“The Prince expressly hath forbid,
This bandying in Verona streets”
And so there is a great possibility that Romeo could be sentenced to death. When the complexity of the situation is explained to the Prince, he poses the question of who is to be punished for the death of Tybalt,
“Romeo slew him, he slew Mercutio,
Who now the price of his dear blood shall owe”
This is the tensest part of the scene, the climax, because the audience does not know what the Princes decision of how to deal with Romeo will be. Also, they know that he is tied to Juliet by marriage and so know that the decision of the fate of Romeo will directly affect both her and the course of the play. When the Prince decides to banish Romeo, “Immediately we do exile him hence”, and the scene ends it adds a lot of tension and excitement because the audience do not know how Romeo will react, what he will do, or what will happen to Juliet. This means that the scene ends on a tense and exciting note.
Overall, Act 3 Scene 1 is made exciting by Shakespeare, through the conscious crafting of tension in the build up to the expected fight, creating excitement with the fight, and then ending with the surprise of the exiling of Romeo and the excitement of not knowing what will happen next. The scene is also exiting because it contains the shift between the original Romantic theme of the play and the overall Tragic theme, this is unexpected by the audience and so captures their attention.
Shakespeare uses Mercutio as a contrast to Romeo’s self obsession with the notion of romantic love
“My lips two blushing pilgrims’ ready stand,
To smooth that rough touch with a tender kiss”
Mercutio contrasts to Romeo with constant, explicit references to sexual parts, “Pop-rin pear” (pear shaped like a penis and “Open-arse” (female sexual organs). This reflects the idea of what nowadays is the contrast between ‘real’ love and relationships, and sexual relationships and one night stands.
Mercutio is constantly joking about love and sex and trying to pull Romeo back to reality from his love sickness with puns. For example, when Romeo says that he is too sore to go to the party, Mercutio says,
“You are a lover borrow cupids wings,
And soar with them above a common bound”
He uses the Queen Mab speech to try and get Romeo to go to the party. This would again be found very amusing by a Shakespearian audience and also it shows too that Mercutio is a very imaginative and articulate character who enjoys indulging in fantasies. Baz Luhrrman’s version of Romeo and Juliet showed the speech to be drug induced and showed Mercutio and a near-mad, black drag queen.
Mercutio’s character is obsessed with the physical act of love and so is constantly making sexual jokes and references, “The hand is but upon the prick of noon”. Shakespeare uses him to contrast with the nurse and their comments serve to show the physical aspect of love-sex, which undermines the main romantic theme.
In the play the position of Romeo is important as he is a middle man, being neither Montague nor Capulat. As a “kinsman to the prince” he is able to get away with things that the others can’t; he has power. This idea comes up when, in Act 2 Scene 1, he is a ‘magician’ (a powerful figure) when he tries to cure Romeo’s lovesickness “I conjure thee Rosaline’s bright eyes”. This again reinforces his obsession with the physical act of love, as he uses this opportunity to make every sexual pun he can. Mercutio also uses his position to satirise the sixteenth century aristocracy, who were very articulate when it came to fending, with terms like “alla stocato” and “passado”. The aristocracy in Shakespeare’s day would have found this intensely amusing. The use of these fencing terms also gives the impression that Mercutio is spoiling for a fight.
In Shakespeare’s day, children had great respect for their parents and did what they were told, where as Mercutio has no family that we see other than the prince. This gives the impression that he is some what of a ‘loose-cannon’ or a ‘maverick’. Also, his readiness to fight suggests that he has an underlying innate aggression which leads to him being quick to anger and always changing his mood. Mercutio’s personality ties in with his name, which comes from the word mercurial, meaning like mercury, ever changing, dangerous and temperamental.
Romeo’s words in Act 2, “he jests at scars that never felt a wound” are ironic when you consider the final fate of Mercutio. As well as meaning that those that have never suffered something can easily joke about it, this line also hints at the future fate of Mercutio. This ‘fore telling the future’ is an idea that runs throughout the play. One example of it is when Mercutio teases Romeo by accusing him of writing poetry like that of 14th century Petrard. All of the examples, “Dido a dowdy, Cleopatra a gypsy, Helen and Hero, hildings and harlots” are ominous of the fate of Romeo and Juliet’s love since they all ended in tragedy.
In Act 2 Scene 4 the bond between Mercutio and Romeo is reinforced when Romeo joins in the sexual banter. “Now art thou Romeo” suggests that Romeo is only truly himself when he takes part in sexual innuendo, enforcing the idea of Mercutio’s fixation with sex. This is ironic as the audience know that the language used by Romeo on the balcony scene proves that Mercutio’s narrow view of what it is to be a man is false.
In Act 3 Scene 1 Mercutio uses his quick wit and sharp intellect to goad and taunt Tybalt, “Make it a word and a blow”, he also insults him by making fun of his nickname, “good king of cats, nothing but one of your nine lives”. All of this shows how much Mercutio wants a fight-due to his aggressive nature. When Mercutio is wounded his friend do not know how badly injured he is. Mercutio uses this fact to play on words, even at deaths door,
“Ask for me tomorrow and you
Will find me a grave man”
He is playing on the two meanings of the word grave, serious/upset and dead. Mercutio steps into the fight to take Romeo’s place and defend his honour as Romeo can not fight because he is Tybalt’s cousin by marriage. However Mercutio does not know about Romeo’s secret marriage and so doesn’t know why he doesn’t fight. It is therefore one of chief ironies of the play that Mercutio dies protecting a cause that he knows nothing about.
The death of Mercutio prompts Romeo to take revenge and so is a catalyst that steers the play towards its tragic end.
Overall, Mercutio is an imaginative, inventive and quick witted character that is extremely clever and the main source of comedy in the play. He has a deep underlying aggression and a lust for fighting that ultimately leads to his demise. He is entirely obsessed with the physical form of love and it could be said to represent a man’s base instinct and view of love.