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Analyse the dramatic function of Benvolio and Mercutio in the play 'Romeo and Juliet'

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Analyse the dramatic function of Benvolio and Mercutio in the play 'Romeo and Juliet' Romeo and Juliet is traditionally a love story, however it also includes elements of humour and tragedy. The characters Mercutio and Benvolio both contribute to these elements, providing not only comedy but also sensibility. Both are important as not only do they bring another layer to the story and keep the audience entertained, because they are friends with Romeo they influence him significantly, and provide the catalyst which prompts him to meet Juliet, kill Tybalt and ultimately to a certain extent kill himself (leading to Juliet killing herself). The huge contrast between the characters of Mercutio and Benvolio is also very important - one is extremely peaceful and passive, while the other is aggressive and lively. To a certain extent they almost signify Romeo's two 'extremes', both of which can be seen in various points throughout the play, as Romeo shows aspects of both Mercutio's enthusiasm and Benvolio's peace loving nature (although not to the extent of the original two characters). This role is important because it means that Mercutio and Benvolio can show the huge contrast in Romeo's character and influence him in different ways. ...read more.


Many of the audience members (especially the poorer ones) would have had to stand up for three or four hours, and if Shakespeare could make them laugh through Mercutio, then they would perhaps forget about their discomfort and enjoy the play more. Also, as the play is ultimately a tragedy as well as a romance, adding comedy would bring another layer to the story, allowing the audience to experience a full range of emotions, from sadness and despair to delight and amusement, thus enriching the experience of the play. However, Mercutio's function does not just involve being the 'comic' element (as this function is also supported by the Nurse, who too contributes her own type of coarse humour). He can also use beautiful poetic language, which illustrates his eloquence and vivid imagination, which is used to entertain the audience in another way (as opposed to his witty remarks). A good example of this is during his speech about "Queen Mab" in Act 1 Scene 4, where he juxtaposes lovely and delicate imagery about "the wings of grasshoppers" and Queen Mab's harness of "the smallest spider web" to more unsettling and violent pictures of "soldiers" who have dreams of "cutting foreign throats". ...read more.


Therefore Mercutio's death is a catalyst and it is necessary in moving the story forward. His death also causes Romeo to mature as he has to come to terms with being blamed for killing Mercutio, killing Tybalt and being banished from Verona so consequently from his "bright angel". To conclude, the characters of Mercutio and Benvolio are essential to the play Romeo and Juliet because they act as catalysts which move the play along towards the fated ending, as well as add humour and sensibility on the way. They (Mercutio especially) are needed to entertain the audience, and therefore make them enjoy the play more (as the role of a play is to be enjoyed). Plus, the fact that Benvolio and Mercutio are consistent characters who do not change make a brilliant comparison with Romeo, who alters in many ways throughout the play. Their consistency makes Romeo's development far more marked. It is also worth noticing that Benvolio is perhaps the only character at the end of the play to remain unharmed and unchanged, unlike the passionate Mercutio or the loving Romeo. Perhaps this is Shakespeare's way of showing us that a peaceful, docile and sensible nature will ultimately mean that one can survive, while fervour and fire are dangerous and may lead to untoward circumstances. ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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