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Analyse the portrayal of the character of Mercutio as the vehicle of Shakespeare's tragic outcome of the play 'Romeo and Juliet'.

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Introduction

Fionnbharr Carter 10M Analyse the portrayal of the character of Mercutio as the vehicle of Shakespeare's tragic outcome of the play 'Romeo and Juliet' Imagine you live in Elizabethan England. You are the son of a middle class man in Stratford Upon Avon, and you go to school. This is quite an oddity for these times; not many people can afford to go to school. You learn about many things at school, one of these things is geography; another is not to cheek your teacher. The scholars, or as they are today known, pupils, are almost exclusively male. You are different also , in that you are a catholic- not a religion popular in those days. Skip forward a few years. Now, you are a playwright in London, and there is tension between protestants and catholics. Maybe you remember something about a place in Italy that you learned in Geography- you might remember something of the climate- hot- and the people who your teacher said live in Italy- passionate. You decide to write a play about hot blooded, passionate lovers and their friends and folly. It will go on to be perhaps the most famous play ever. It is called Romeo and Juliet. Romeo is the protagonist. ...read more.

Middle

As the scene goes on, Mercutio seems to let his angry inner self come through; there are many lines in quick succession. He even starts to disturb Romeo, who asks him to be quiet, because "thou talk'st of nothing" . This is important because it is ironic that Mercutio had been saying how dreams were nothing- this is more evidence showing how much cleverer and sharper Mercutio is, compared to the others. The party they are attending is a masque- a place where lovers meet, so it is significant that Romeo doesn't meet his perceived love, Rosalyne, but his star crossed love, Juliet; as Mercutio says, "dreamers often lie". When Mercutio realises that Romeo is missing, he blames Rosaline, the "pale hearted wench" who "torments him so, that he will soon run mad". He seems to take back what he said in the Queen Mab Speech- he's not so sure now whether Romeo and Rosaline are actually in love- but he might just be be being sarcastic- this is Mercutio, after all. Another of his concerns is that Tybalt, the "Prince of cats", may be after Romeo. Mercutio proceeds to leave Benvolio standing dazed and confused, as he launches into a tirade full of obsure metaphors, describing Tybalt. ...read more.

Conclusion

Romeo is the catalyst to Tybalt's anger- he stirs it up. Tybalt doesn't want Mercutio's blood he wants Romeo's. In the end, the fight begins, and Mercutio is stabbed. When Mercutio is stabbed he says, fatalistically, "'tis not so deep as a well, nor so wide as a church door; but tis enough, 'twill serve". It will serve to do God's work, the way it was meant to be. Mercutio says with his dying breaths "a plague on both your houses", to the bystanding Romeo and his friends. This serves to frighten his friends- is Mercutio being funny? As the curse is given with Mercutio's dying breath, Elizabethan audiences would consider it powerful, and it is. Romeo dies, and his curse does indeed come true- the pride of each house, the first children, die. This is similar to the Old Testament and God's last plague on Egypt- the killing of the first born. Mercutio's death was as futile as Romeo and Juliet's in some ways, but altogether they brought peace to the streets of Verona. Mercutio was the vehicle for the tragic outcome of the play- the demise of the young, bright character everybody in the audience likes symbolises the futility of all war- not just in the play, but everywhere, and how the innocent always get caught in the crossfire. ...read more.

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