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In this essay I will be looking at Mercutio’s character to see if the role he plays is comical or if there is another reason why he is in the play. Mercutio is the nephew of the prince and Romeo’s best friend.
I think that Mercutio does have a comical role in the play because of the jokes he makes and the way he acts with people, but there is evidence that suggests he has a serious side as well.
You get a good example of Mercutio being comical in act1 scene 4, when Mercutio is out side Capulet’s house trying to cheer up Romeo because of his love sickness. He goes on to tell Romeo about Queen Mab visiting him in his dreams and he explains who she is.
He then shows a rude side as he starts teasing Romeo about sex. Then he starts getting angry with Romeo and says ‘You are a lover’ borrow cupids wings and sour with them above a common bound.’ This shows a rude side to Mercutio. Another rude quote he says would be ‘if love be rough with you, be rough with love: prick love for pricking and you beat love down.’ In this scene he has shown more than just a comical character he has shown the reader that he has a serious side.
Another quote that shows the serious nature of Mercutio is ‘she is the fairest midwife and she comes no bigger than an agote stone’.
Why Does Shakespeare Include Mercutios Teasing Words
Act2 scene 1 Mercutio is teasing Romeo about how his love for rosaline had failed, he pretends to conjure Romeo magically. He says that Romeo has got odd moods and is that to be the origin of passion. In the scene he presents this by saying ‘nay ,ill conjure too, Romeo! Humours! Madman! Passion! Liver!’ Mercutio then starts to tease Romeo about Venus being the god of love. After that he talks about cupid, but in the play he’s referred to as young Abraham. He says how young Abraham shot so suitably King Cophetua loved the beggar maid. He teases Romeo a lot in this scene because he says, “the ape is dead, and I must conjure thee by rosaline’s bright eyes,” his is inferring to Romeo that he is a performing ape, and he must conjure him magically with rosaline. In this whole scene Mercutio shows no real seriousness at all. He just seems to tease Romeo a lot and be a comical person.
In act2 scene 4, Mercutio and Benvolio are talking about what has happened to Romeo, as he was meant to be having breakfast with them. Tybalt had sent Romeo a challenge because Romeo made an appearance at the Capulets party. Mercutio then makes rude comments on Tybalt’s skills as a fencer and mocks his clothing because its not in fashion. When romeo comes, they both try to out do each other with word puns and complicated word play.
When Mercutio is talking to benvolio about what has happened to romeo he is quite serious at first. You can see this when he says “why, that same hard hearted wrench, that rosaline, torments him so, that he will sure run mad.” This means that romeo will go mad if rosaline keeps tormenting him. When Benvolio tells Mercutio about the letter that Tybalt sent to romeo, Mercutio shows a sarcastic side, by saying “Any man that can write may answer a letter,” he says it as if it is just a letter, not a letter challenging him to a duel. After this, Mercutio starts getting very comical and stops being serious when he starts talking about tybalt. He says “more than prince of cats. O, he’s the courageous captain of complements.” He then goes on to say more insulting things about Tybalt, but Romeo enters and Mercutio’s attension is drawn to him now as he starts teasing him again.
He says without his roe, like a dried herring. This means that Romeo has come without his girlfriend, like a fish with no water. They then start to battle each other with clever word play, which is comical. The nurse then enters to see Romeo. Mercutio teases the nurse with sexual words which are showing comedy such as the song he sings “an old hare hoar, and an old hare hoar,is very good meat in lent, but a hare that is hoar is too much for a score, when a hoars ere it be spent.” He is saying that the nurse is a old prostitute that nobody wants and is not worth paying for. This proves that he is more than just comical because has been very insulting to the nurse, but still is being comical so it is not a good example of him not being anything else. At the start of the scene he was serious but he moved to a comical character quickly and showed more comedy in this particular scene.
Act3 scene 1 Benvolio and Mercutio are talking on the streets, but benvolio is eerie about the Capulets being around. Mercutio then mocks him and sayshe is a quarreller him self. Tybalt then enters the scene and mercutio provokes him, but he is only bothered about Romeo. When Romeo appears he doesn’t retaliate to tybalts insults. This causes mercutio to challenge tybalt to a duel himself. Mercutio gets wounded between Romeo’s arm when Romeo is trying to break up the fight.
In the first part of the scene Mercutio is very comical, after he mocks benvolio. He then goes on to say how he doesn’t care about he Capulets, he says, “By my heel I care not.” Then when Tybalt enters he still remains a comical character. When Tybalt says, “Mercutio, thou consorest with Romeo” this means that Mercutio is often in the company of Romeo. He is then comical and replies to Tybalns ,in an offensive way, that his sword is a fiddlestick and he is going to make him dance with his sword. “here’s my fiddlestick; here’s that which will make you dance. Mercutio gets angry with romeo because he will not take up Tybalt’s challenge, this puts Mercutio in a serious mood, and he says ” Tybalt you rat catcher, will you walk.” Even though he is asking Tybalt to a duel to the death there is a bit comic relief in their, because he is referring to Tybalt as a rat catcher, and he is known as the king of cats.
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Mercutio ends up loosing the duel and his death is one of or the most biggest turning point of the play. From it being comical it is now turning tragic. So Mercutio’s death has a huge impact on the play and it goes to show how much his importance is. The most serious words that Mercutio says in the whole play is ” A plague O, both your houses.” But at the time everyone thinks that he is being comical. Even as he is about to die he is still trying to be comical, because he says “Ay Ay a scratch a scratch marry. ‘t is enough. Where is my page? Go villain fetch a surgeon.” He is trying to get across that Tybalt is a cat and it is just a cat scratch. Another comical thing he says is ” If you ask for me tomorrow, and you shall find me a grave man”
I think that Mercutio’s role in the play is of great importance because everything leading up to his death was happy. After his death its just a chain of unfortunate incidents. Overall he is a very comical, rude and loud person. He also makes a lot of jokes about sex, I think Shakespeare put him in the play to entertain people before the tragedies began. He teases Romeo a lot about love and rosaline. He provokes Tybalt and doesn’t really care about it. This shows an insolent side to him. There is sufficient evidence in my essay that shows how Mercutio can also be a serious person not just there for comical use. I think that he has been put in the play for a massive turn around after he dies.