In William Shakespeare’s infamous Romeo and Juliet, I found myself most relating the character of Mercutio, the close friend of Romeo and his cousin Benvolio. Mercutio has a flare for the dramatic and his sense of humor and loyalty with Romeo cast him as an affable and tragic comedic character. With this essay I will discuss the scene where Mercutio fights Tybalt in Romeo’s honor because I feel that this is the turning point of the play.
Mercutio, although a secondary character in the play, can be considering one of the main driving forces of the plot. Although sometimes playful to a fault, Mercutio nevertheless has a deep love for Romeo and is willing to go to great extents to help his friend after Romeo suffers the rejection of his first love Rosaline. Shakespeare paints a loving picture of the two friends based on a mutual respect and great senses of humor.
I related and laughed along with the scene where Romeo and Mercutio exchange banter and Mercutio turns the game into a wild goose chase, “Nay, if our wits run the wild-goose chase, I am done; for thou hast more of the wild goose in one of thy wits than, I am sure, I have in my whole five. ” He is coyly alluding to the fact that even though Romeo is wavering in his course of love, Mercutio will maintain his loyalty to his best friend, even when Mercutio finds out about the ‘two star crossed lovers.
Mercutio, in his love and concern for his friend, warns Romeo of the inherent volatility of the illicit situation and urges him to seriously consider the consequences of his actions, not just on Romeo and Juliet, but on everyone who is connected to the Montague’s and Capulet’s. Of course, Romeo’s love for Juliet trumps Mercutio’s reason and when Romeo refuses to fight Tybalt because he is Juliet’s cousin, Mercutio steps forward to protect the honor his best friend.
In what is perhaps the most memorable scene in the play, Tybalt fatally stabs Mercutio ‘under the arm of Romeo. ’ Mercutio, bleeding to death, still maintains his insight and his wit, blasting the feuding families with his famous prescient curse, “A plague on both your houses! A plague on both your houses! ” His loyalty to Romeo is why he is dying and at this point all of his warnings in the name of love for Romeo have betrayed him. The physical intervention of Romeo into the fight is quite possibly the reason Tybalt was able to fatally stab him.
Mercutio’s love fades with his last moments of life and he proclaims his disgust at the turn of events. What was most striking for me was how in his moment of death, Mercutio maintained his sense of humor when he quips, “If you look for me tomorrow, you will find me a grave man. ” His wits remain in the face of death and he perishes a memorable and lovable character. Mercutio’s death is the turning point of the play because it leads Romeo to avenge the death of his best friend which in turn leads to Romeo’s exile from Venice, setting the stage for the tragic ending.
I find myself aligning with Mercutio’s sense of loyalty and humor. He is wise enough to sense the danger of Romeo and Juliet’s love, yet he does not look down upon them for being in love because he respects his friend’s desire, even though it eventually is the cause of his tragic death. Mercutio’s lightheartedness is really a mask for his deep seated concern for the safety of his friends and I find myself using the same techniques to show the people I love that I care for them, no matter the stakes.