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How central is Mercutio to the reader's enjoyment of Romeo and Juliet?

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Introduction

Romeo and Juliet How central is Mercutio to the reader's enjoyment of Romeo and Juliet? Romeo and Juliet is a tragic tale of a pair of doomed lovers who come from opposing families. Due to the ongoing feud between their kin, they are forced to marry in secret and from here; one of the most memorable love of stories of all time unfolds. Its timeless story has sprung numerous interpretations, both in the theatre and on the silver screen. However, of all films and plays that have been made, Baz Luhrman's version is by far the best. He has modernised Shakespeare's masterpiece to suit the modern audience, and where as in many film versions the true essence of the story is lost, Luhrman manages to keep Romeo and Juliet every bit as enchanting as it was when Shakespeare first put pen to paper. When reading the script of Romeo and Juliet, there is much to enjoy, the epic tale of love, the beautiful language and the riveting action scenes. In the film, some of the language is lost, but, in its place comes some very impressive gun fights and many comical appearances, seeing Mercutio in drag being something that many viewers remember after having watched the film, and with good reason, it is a genuinely funny moment. Though some of the artistic language is lost during the translation to film, the theme of romance remains constant throughout. If one was to analyse both the play and the film thoroughly they would almost certainly make a note of the fact that one character is essential to developing all themes, whether they be common between the play and the film or unique to each presentation. That character is Mercutio. When Mercutio first enters the play he is with the Montagues when they are about enter the Capulet's party, he has an instant impact on Romeo by attempting cheer him up by helping him forget about Rosaline. ...read more.

Middle

The scene remains unchanged in the film. In Act 3 Scene 1 we see Mercutio and Benvolio are speaking when Tybalt arrives in search of Romeo. Tybalt tries to speak with Mercutio but he continuously makes jokes. This is very interesting that even in the face of adversary; Mercutio is able to remain relaxed and humorous. Eventually, Romeo arrives. Tybalt challenges Romeo but Romeo backs down, saying that he loves the name Capulet as dearly as his own and so he should be "satisfied". Mercutio is outraged by Romeo's actions, "O calm, vile, dishonourable submission!" Mercutio then proceeds to show off his intelligence by using Italian fencing language, "Alla stoccata", to name Tybalt. Mercutio then challenges Tybalt to a fight. At this point Romeo tries to intervene, but he is unable to stop Mercutio becoming wounded. Benvolio then asks Mercutio if he is hurt and he replies, "a scratch a scratch". This is remarkable. A man on his death bed is still able to make intelligent jokes. In this case, the scratch is relating to the name of Prince of Cats that was given to Tybalt previously by Mercutio himself. Mercutio then goes on to talk about how he is about to die, "Ask for me tomorrow and you shall find me a grave man". However, he never slips away from his intelligent use of language and this suggests that he has a lot of pride. Mercutio's final words then prophesise the tragedy that is about to take place for the two households. "A plague on both your houses". This death scene is possibly the best in the entire story. It has everything, action, tragedy and humour. All of these aspects are due to Mercutio. Had he not fought Tybalt, there would have been no action, had he not been killed, there would have been no tragedy, and most importantly, had he not been present, no other character would have been able to bring humour to such a grim situation. ...read more.

Conclusion

This may seem irrelevant but it is these small details that make a film truly enjoyable. Last, but most certainly not least, the romance theme will undoubtedly appeal to the masses. This theme is, in terms of language far more evident in Shakespeare's written play. For instance, we know that Mercutio and Romeo are very close, and so they finish each others Iambic Pentameter and also able to easily speak about the same subjects whilst using the same similes and metaphors. Nevertheless, this close friendship developed over a long time. Romeo and Juliet on the other hand are like this from the instant that they meet and so this shows that they are soul mates. For example, when speaking with each other for the first time, they both talk based on the subject of "pilgrims" and "lips". Also they complete each others Iambic Pentameter from their first words to each other. In Act 2 Scene 2, on line 112-113. Romeo's speech has 5 beats and so does Juliet's. This also shows their equality as they both have an even number of beats where as Mercutio usually has one or two more that Romeo to give emphasis to his domination of all other characters. In conclusion, Mercutio is by far the most influential character in both the film and the play. He is vital to the development of themes, stories and is vital to the humorous and action scenes in the play. Though he may not be the only character to bring these various qualities to the play, he is the only one that unites all of these features into one unique personality that leaves the audience both content and yet strangely dissatisfied. The absence of Mercutio would be truly criminal, he is a fantastic character that breathes new life into an otherwise tired genre of romance. Saying that he is central to the readers enjoyment does not do his role justice, and no amount of adjectives could possibly describe the significance of Mercutio to Romeo and Juliet. 1 ...read more.

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