Mercutios Role In Romeo And Juliet Essay Who Is To Blame
WHO IS TO BLAME
“Romeo and Juliet” is a young couple’s play about love and hate, adolescent angst and death by Shakespeare. The continual feud between the Montague and the Capulet families results in ongoing conflict. There are many factors that are responsible for the deaths of Romeo and Juliet. Friar Lawrence, fate and their parents can be held responsible for their tragic demise. But the lovers too, especially Romeo, makes some poor decisions. Miscalculation and accidents also play a part.
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THE FEUDING FAMILIES
The feud is responsible for the tragic deaths. They are born into enemy families and it is expected that both marry a person from the same family. There is a lot of ill-feeling and hatred between the two clans. The feuding families creates a malignant context for the lovers. The play is about ‘The fearful passage of their death-mark’d love, And the continuance of their parents’ rage, which but their children’s end nought could remove.’
When Juliet first meets Romeo she knows that their relationship is cursed because it is her fate to fall in love with a member of the enemy household. Juliet and Romeo are both determined to find a way to be together and get married despite their enemy status. Juliet regrets that Romeo is a Montague, but she asks, “What’s in a name”. She tells Romeo, “doff thy name … and take all myself.”
Lord Capulet insists on the marriage. (Act 4/1 and Act 3/5)
Lord and Lady Capulet force her to marry Paris without asking her opinion because they assume that she will obey them. They misunderstand the extent and purpose of her grief following Tybalt’s death. They think it is simply unhealthy.
When she does not obey their orders, Lord Capulet gets angry “Hang you, you minx! You disobedient wretch! I’ll tell you now: Go to the church on Thursday, or never look on my face again!” He is very arrogant and shows little concern for Juliet’s feelings. He accuses her of being ungrateful. This makes Juliet extremely unhappy and gives her further reason to be disobedient. As a result she consults Friar Lawrence.
MERCUTIO AND TYBALT
The continued brawling between clan members such as Tybalt and Mercutio directly leads to Romeo’s exile. BOTH Mercutio (Montagues) and Tybalt (Capulet) are troublemakers. Shakespeare constructs the two figures as mirror images of their different families. Both and Mercutio incite hatred and inflame the tension between the two clans. Both bear a grudge against each other. They both use words and phrases to deliberately offend each other.
Mercutio is just as provocative as Tybalt. When they meet in Act III, Mercutio states that “I care not” that Tybalt is coming and that they must prevent a fight. His language and his words are very inflammatory. In response to Tybalt he states “a word and a blow”. He deliberately misunderstands/ misinterprets Tybalt’s words, “consortst” as an insult. Tybalt deliberately uses the word “consort’st” because of its double meaning. As a result, Mercutio interprets this offensively. He is the one who draws his “fiddlestick” or sword first and prompts a fight. He refuses to listen to reason from either Benvolio or Romeo. He also refers to Romeo’s words of peace as “vile submission”.
Likewise, Mercutio hates Tybalt and provokes him to a fight when he asks if Tybalt, the “Good King of Cats”, is a coward, “Tybalt, you rat-catcher, will you walk” (3.1)
Tybalt is also provocative and greets Romeo with the phrase “here comes my man”. Tybalt has a grudge against Romeo from the time he comes to the ball. He is stubborn, hot-tempered and provocative. Tybalt says he hates “peace” as he hates “hell, all Montagues, and thee.” He says to Romeo, “thou art a villain”, which refers to the fact that he is intended as an insult and refers to a man of inferior birth, as a peasant. He tells Romeo, “turn and draw”.
He also feels slighted that Lord Capulet seems to protect Romeo and state that he is a “virtuous” and “well-govern’d youth” with a good reputation. This seems to fuel Tybalt’s sense of inferiority, and, feeling slighted and aggrieved, he is constantly looking for an outlet to vent his anger on Romeo.
He derails R’s attempts to mediate between the clans. He exacerbates and aggravates the tension between the clans. He refers to Romeo as his “man” which is a pun on servant; it is demeaning. He states that he cannot excuse the “injuries that thou hast done me”.
Tybalt refuses to take Romeo seriously, when he states that he “loves thee better than thou canst devise”. He goes against the Prince’s orders when he provokes the brawl and kills Mercutio, thus provoking Romeo. He is so hot-tempered that he takes advantage of Romeo’s attempts to restrain Mercutio and stabs him. He recklessly and impulsively stabs Mercutio thus precipating a chain of action that leads to the death of both Romeo and Juliet.
When Romeo kills Tybalt, Romeo must flee. Because of his fiery nature, he becomes the catalyst for the ensuring tragic events. He lacks Romeo’s charitable attitude and peaceable nature.
Both Tybalt and Mercutio play a major role in Romeo’s downfall. They refuse to settle for peace. They deliberately use inflammatory words. They both want to fight.
ROMEO has a tendency to be impulsive and this contributes to his exile. Even Friar Lawrence tries to warn him that it is not good to be impulsive. Friar Lawrence is shocked that Romeo has so quickly changed his affection from Rosaline to Juliet. However, Romeo does display his love for Juliet when he tries to restrain Tybalt and states that contrary to expectation he “love(s) thee better than thou canst devise”
After Tybalt kills Mercutio, he decides that he must defend his honour and no longer shows control and restraint. He imagines that his love has weakened him. He worries that Juliet’s “beauty hath made me effeminate” and is determined to change this. He says let “fire-eyed fury be my conduct now”. Only when it is too late, he realizes how foolish he has been. He realizes he is “fortune’s fool” and doomed by their feuding families. Sadly, Romeo also panics when he sees Juliet in the casket.
THE TRAGEDY is a catalogue of errors originating in Fr L’s ill-hatched plan.
- it was too sophisticated and risk-laden (despite its worthy aims) and ends up with disastrous consequences
- he encourages Juliet to deceive her parents; she fakes death which is a very upsetting experience for her parents.
- F L does not have any back-up plans; Friar John was waylaid by authorities and FL fails inform Balthasar who hurries to tell Romeo about Juliet’s death.
- R ends up distraught and unable to think clearly: Romeo is too young and impulsive to evaluate the situation when it backfired
Friar Lawrence’s scheme is not well planned and is perhaps too sophisticated for the young lovers. Juliet blindly places her faith in Friar Lawrence and when the plan backfires both Romeo and Juliet are too young, naive and innocent to think of other remedies.
Friar Lawrence instigates the dangerous plan that has disastrous consequences, although love and peace are his main aims. He states that “this this alliance may so happy prove to turn your households’ rancour to pure love’. Friar organises the risk-laden scheme which seeks to avoid Juliet’s hasty marriage to Paris. (Also he knows that Juliet is threatening to kill herself if he does not find a solution.) The plan appears simple, but it is full of risks.
It encourages Juliet to deceive her parents. She feigns death which leads to disaster upon the lack of communication with Romeo. Friar Lawrence’s scheme is not well planned and is perhaps too sophisticated for the young lovers. Juliet blindly places her faith in Friar Lawrence and when the plan backfires both Romeo and Juliet are too young, naive and innocent to think of other remedies.
He does not have any back-up plans. Friar John is held up by the authorities. He is unable to give Romeo the letter about Friar Lawrence’s scheme because he and another monk were delayed by the authorities and quarantined. (“Where the infectious pestilence did reign, Seal’d up the doors, and would not let us forth”.)
Friar Lawrence fails to inform, Romeo’s servant Balthasar, who hurries to Romeo with the news that Juliet is dead. He begs Romeo to show patience, which may have led to a different outcome. Pale and wildly impetuous, Romeo decides to go straight to her tomb.
When he learns about her “death” Romeo rushes to buy poison. In front of Juliet’s body he remains with their memories. He remembers the memory of her kiss: “Death, that hath suck’d the honey of thy breath.” After his death by “true apothecary”, Juliet wakes up and kills herself with a “dagger”
The rivalry between the M and C were the main reason for the death of Romeo and Juliet. Discuss.
The simmering brawl between warring clan members such as Tybalt and Mercutio directly precipitates the chain of tragic events that leads to Romeo’s exile and the lovers’ death. Shakespeare constructs the two figures as mirror images of their different families which bear an ancient grudge that is difficult, or impossible, to resolve. Both Mercutio, a Montague, and Tybalt, a Capulet, are clearly troublemakers; both are antagonistic towards the Prince’s decree that … “if you ever disturb our streets again, your lives shall pay the price of it”. Initially at the masked ball, Tybalt is warned by Capulet to bury his resentment, but instead he is left smouldering from what he feels as an offensive intrusion by a Montague. During the later street encounter, Mercutio is just as provocative as Tybalt. When they meet in Act III, Mercutio states that “I care not” that Tybalt is coming and that they must prevent a fight. Shakespeare constructs the scene in such a way to show how their continued enmity obstructs reconciliation and peace. He employs puns that are used by both Tybalt and Merc to inflame the situation. For example, Mercutio deliberately misunderstands/ misinterprets Tybalt’s words, “consortst”, used because of its double meaning, as an insult. M is the one who draws his “fiddlestick” or sword first and prompts a fight. He refuses to listen to reason from either Benvolio or Romeo. He also refers to Romeo’s words of peace as “vile submission”. Likewise, Mercutio hates Tybalt and provokes him to a fight when he asks if Tybalt, the “Good King of Cats”, is a coward, “Tybalt, you rat-catcher, will you walk” (3.1) Eventually the death of M and then Tybalt leads to Romeo’s exile and the ill-hatched plan of Friar Lawrence.
If Mercutio and Tybalt act as catalysts, Shakespeare also depicts Lord Capulet as a contributing partner to the tragedy owing to the misuse of his power and authority. His misguided arrogance and despotic nature seal her fate owing to the hasty order to marry Paris, in complete disregard of her wellbeing. Whilst there are some redeeming features to Capulet such as his conciliatory attitude displayed towards Romeo at the masked ball, Shakespeare does place considerable emphasis on his unreasonable order to hastily marry Paris. He clearly misunderstands Juliet’s wishes and the purpose of her grief following Tybalt’s death. Shakespeare depicts Tybalt as clearly sharp despotic ordering her to marry. “Hang you minx …” (quotes…) Shakespeare continues to show how the misuse of his authority and power, which could have been used to solve the feud, instead contributes to the tragic chain of events that leads to the death of the lovers
Whilst most members of the feuding families have a direct influence on the outcome, Friar Lawrence’s ill-hatched plan has an indirect influence on the hasty deaths of the lovers as Romeo is bound for exile. However, in the scheme of the play, Shakespeare would suggest that his role, whilst unfortunate, is less blameworthy because of his motives to secure peace. Also, he acted in the best interests of the lovers aware of the depth of their feeling. (Quotes for F L …) However, the plan was nevertheless too sophisticated and risk-laden to withstand the degree of bad luck and unfortunate circumstances. … the passionate lovers took drastic and impetuous measures.
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Return to Notes: Romeo and Juliet
In Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, there are both characters and ideas that contribute to the story's tragedy.
Tybalt is much to blame for Rome and Juliet's death. He is much too eager to pick a fight: he wants to kill Romeo (for an imagined slight), but starts out taunting Mercutio. As they fight, Romeo enters and while he tries to stop the fight, Tybalt reaches around Romeo and takes a cheap shot at Mercutio—killing him. It is at this point that Romeo goes berserk and kills Tybalt. For this, Romeo is banished from Verona, and the distance between the couple causes a lack of communication whereby Romeo kills himself, thinking Juliet dead—and when Juliet wakes and finds Romeo, she also kills herself.
Capulet is another character that contributes to the death of these sweethearts. In the beginning of the play, he tells Paris to wait two years before trying to marry Juliet. And even then, he declares, she must agree. After Tybalt's death, Capulet changes his mind, agrees on a date (very soon) with Paris, and tells Juliet that if she does not comply, he will drag her to the church or throw her into the streets. Juliet, of course, is already married, and so is driven to extremes, through the Friar's plan—for without an option, she promises to kill herself.
Some people blame the Friar for marrying the pair, but he hopes to resolve the feud between the families with this wedding. His plan to have Juliet meet Romeo in Mantua, as well as to give Juliet a drug that makes her appear dead, is not a fault in my view because Romeo and Juliet both come to him for help, and each threatens suicide if he/she cannot find a way around the seemingly impossible obstacles that surrounds each.
The main idea that causes the death of these two young people is the concept of "fate." Before the play's action begins, the Prologue (which serves as a "chorus") explains the plot and ending of the story in that the two will perish because they are star-cross'd lovers," and it is their fate to die. No one can overcome fate, or so the Elizabethans believed.
Two households, both alike in dignity,
In fair Verona, where we lay our scene,
From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,
Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.
From forth the loins of these two foes
A pair of star-cross'd lovers take their life;
Whose misadventur'd piteous overthrows,
Doth with their death bury their parents' strife.
(Opening Prologue, 1-8
The other very important idea, or element, that causes so much trouble is the feud. It immediately pits the lovers' against each other, not because of their own beliefs, but for the resistance they will face from their parents before they can marry—and rather than wait, they secretly marry. For how could they surmount this kind of obstacle?
Romeo observes, "Here's much to do with hate, but more with love." (I.i.175)
And Juliet notes:
My only love sprung from my only hate! (I. v.138)
However, even in light of this, the two young people try. The feud has been going on for so long, that no one can remember how it started. The argument is feeble enough that with the death of Romeo and Juliet, the fighting immediately ends and too late the families make peace. If not for the feud, the play would have been very different.