• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

How does Shakespeare present the character of Mercutio and what role does he play in Romeo and Juliet?

Extracts from this document...


How does Shakespeare present the character of Mercutio and what role does he play in Romeo and Juliet? In the famous Shakespearean play Romeo and Juliet the character Mercutio is a close friend of Romeos and has an arrogant and cynical personality. He only features in the first part of the play but despite this his character plays a very key role through his loyalty to Romeo in setting up the rest of the story. His character is clearly very comic in the sense that he is constantly joking and using puns right up to his death. A key example that I feel expresses the comedy of his character is how he mocks Romeos sworn enemy Tybalt: Because there is a feud between the Montague (Romeos) and Capulet (Juliets) families Mercutio feels it is his duty as a friend to Romeo to side with the Montagues. Firstly in Act 2 scene 4 he insults Tybalts name as it is also a popular name for a cat. Mercutio: 'More than Prince of cats.' Also he insults the way in which Tybalt fights suggesting it is predictable and effeminate. 'He fights as you sing prick song, keeps the time distance and proportion; he rests his minim rests one, two, and the third in your bosom.' ...read more.


Until this speech begins the conversation between Romeo and Mercutio consists of generally relaxed banter and has a fairly gentle mood, this all changes when Mercutio produces this great 42 line speech beginning with the words: 'O then I see Queen Mab hath been with you' Suddenly he speaks to Romeo in a much faster pace, with fewer breaths; with the purpose of convincing Romeo that he is being silly for having reluctance to enter the party and that people should not put faith in dreams: 'Dreamers often lie.' Mercutio has a clear changeable character which develops from swift puns with witty joking to quick tempered seriousness. Beginning with fanciful charming imagery his words lead into more alarming ideas on how for example the cover for Queen Mabs' chariot is formed from the wings of grasshoppers. The speech foreshadows the structure of the play as a whole: Beginning with dreaming and harmless light- heartedness: reflecting when Romeos love for Juliet is acquired and no more than verbal fighting takes place between the Capulets and Montagues; gradually developing to increase pace and resulting in nightmares: spurring from Mercutios stabbing which is later followed by the poisoning of Juliet. Due to the speech's early positioning within the play its purpose is not only to prophesise what is yet to come but also to act as an introduction to Mercutios' part; ...read more.


In modern day English he is effectively saying that the nurse is old and past her time, not only that but she's a whore who no one would go for unless desperate. This is extremely rude so again would have appealed to the groundlings immature sense of humour. Seated more wealthy audience members however would have approved of Mercutios wit and loyalty to Romeo because of their higher level of intellect. When in Act 3 scene 1 Benvolio suggests that Mercutio and Tybalt retire to some place less public, Mercutio stands firm and prepares to fight standing up for Romeo. 'Men's eyes were made to look and let them gaze; I will not budge for no man's pleasure , I.' This also shows Mercutio to be quite a stubborn character as he ignores Benvolios advice. Secondly those whom were seated would be of greater intelligence giving them better understanding of some of the poetry and puns his character used to express his feelings. In conclusion Mercutios character is a very unique one and a foil to Romeo. His death is a major turning point after which the play changes from light heartedness to tragedy. Not only appealing to one class of audience members but to all with his different attributes. His character is fundamental for helping to unfold the play. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Other Authors section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Other Authors essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    How Shakespeare presents Romeo & Juliet's early relationship.

    3 star(s)

    Some of these comparisons are crucial to how we see Romeo & Juliet. You have the continual comparison of the love and hate of the play, up until Romeo & Juliet die. 'My only love sprung from my only hate!'

  2. In conclusion Romeo's character has distorted right through the play. The change in situations ...

    "I'll go along no such sight to be shown." While at the Capulet party. Romeo meets his love Juliet, and they instantly fall in love at first sight. This electrifying moment is written as a sonnet. Religious imagery runs through Romeo's conversation with Juliet "profane, trespass, purged, faith."

  1. How did Shakespeare create tension in act 1 scene 5 of Romeo and Juliet

    Tell me, daughter Juliet, How stands your disposition to be married?...." (act 1 scene 3) this is a problem because Juliet has fallen in love with Romeo. Scene 5 is set in a big party in lord Capulet's mansions. He is one of the richest men in Verona.

  2. Who is to blame for the deaths of tybalt and mercutio?

    Mercutio would not have been involved at all had it not been for Romeos refusal to fight Tybalt. Only the nurse, friar, audience and couple themselves know the reason, which was that Romeo and Juliet had got married that morning. Romeo could not fight Tybalt because they were now related.

  1. How is Juliet presented by Shakespeare in this extract (from Act 4 Scene 3) ...

    In a time and of an age that would have required that she obey her parents, she is willing to throw away everything for Romeo, a man who she cannot have. We have also seen a selfish side to Juliet, where when her nurse does not feel well, it is less important to Juliet than finding out about Romeo.

  2. How does Shakespeare present the changes which occur in Capulet throughout the play and ...

    for his daughter allowing the fathers in the audience to perhaps create a link between themselves and Capulet. It seems Capulet genuinely cares for the well being of his daughter and deals with her emotions very caringly. Capulet wants Juliet to marry someone of her choice as Capulet implies that his happiness is her happiness.

  1. Show Romeo's changes throughout the play and how Shakespeare's language is used to show ...

    Juliet is a "Maid" of the moon because Diana is the patroness of chastity and Juliet is a chaste maid. Romeo, now under the darkness of night, lighted only by the moon, sees in Juliet the promise of bright warm love, far more beautiful than the pale, chaste light of the moon.

  2. What evidence in the play can be interpreted as Mercutios affections toward Romeo being ...

    fairy?s ability to confirm what ever vices that dreamers are addicted to and how the description of Queen Mab itself is complete nonsense. His aversion to women and heterosexual love could be interpreted as a sign of homosexuality, or at the very least bisexuality; Mercutio?s disrespect for the opposite gender

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work