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"How Central is the Presentation of Mercutio to the Audience's Appreciation of Romeo and Juliet"? Consider both the text and film versions

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Introduction

"How Central is the Presentation of Mercutio to the Audience's Appreciation of Romeo and Juliet"? Consider both the text and film versions 'Romeo and Juliet' is one of Shakespeare's greatest literary works and regarded as one of the best and most popular plays. The story is, of course, about a pair of star-crossed lovers. Two teenagers pursue their love for each other despite the fact that their families have been at odds with each other for decades. The story combines sword fighting, disguise, misunderstanding, tragedy, humour, and some of the most romantic language found in Shakespeare's work. It was originally written in 1595 and since this time there have been many publications and film adaptations. 'Mercutio' whose name is derived form the adjective 'mercurial' (which means unpredictable, erratic and fast thinker) is, as his name suggests: lively, quick witted and high spirited. He is a cheerful young man with a high sense of humour, which sometimes stretches into bawdy humour. Mercutio is often used as a contrast to Romeo in terms of character and wit. He thinks love is "drivelling" and has no patience with Romeo's infatuation for Rosaline. He loves life and wants to enjoy it as much as he can. It is in this sense that in the film adaptation he is portrayed exactly like this, very spontaneous in his thoughts and actions and full of youth. In the text version however, we see him as more of an intellect as his character isn't exaggerated, whereas most of his language seems like hyperbole. This is in stark contrast to the film, only the most important segments of his speeches have been included and instead we see more of a focus on the theatrical element to his character. ...read more.

Middle

Iambic pentameter is a line of 10 syllables, no more and no less. In the early parts of the play we see Romeo and Mercutio completing each others Iambic Pentameter with each of the characters saying sentences of 5 syllables and the other completing the rhythm one example of this is in Act 1; Scene 4: "Well what was yours? (Romeo) "That Dreamers often Lie (Mercutio). We see this use of iambic pentameter diminish as the play progresses and the two friends move further apart in friendship. Other variations to this style of language can be used to create a certain effect "As A Rich Jewel" here irregular iambic pentameter is used by Mercutio to show that he is gob-smacked signified by the single stretched beats. The use of Iambic Pentameter cannot be understood until it is looked into in-depth as its use and the nature in which it is presented is amazing and very complex. For example, Romeo and Juliet are both mutually supportive of each other whilst talking: "If I profane with my unworthiest hands" (Romeo) "you do wrong your hand too much" (Juliet). Here they bolster and compliment each other's confidence. A sonnet is formed due to there being rhyming all the way throughout this conversation. Motifs are also used to a similar extent, especially by Romeo where we see in Act 2; Scene 1 Romeo constantly referring to light and angelical references to love: "dove, angel, heaven; stars; purity" just like we see Mercutio using exclamation marks and hyperbole very regularly. The use of language, therefore, is very central to the presentation as it stands out particularly in the text version as being fluent, very dynamic and varied. ...read more.

Conclusion

They have made worm's meat of me: I have it, and soundly too. Your Houses!" Here Mercutio, seeing that all has been in vain by referring to "worms meat," curses both their houses as his peace has been shattered and destroyed and he sees his best friend Romeo as a traitor upon his death. It is at this point that we (the audience) realise the true importance of Mercutio in this dramatised segment of the play. Mercutio's rash actions eventually got the better of him and his pent up emotions ultimately led to his demise. If Shakespeare were to make Mercutio a little bit calmer and tranquil as a character these events would never have taken place therefore, as I have mentioned before Mercutio is the 'trigger for tragedy'. It is his death that instigates the chain reaction of tragic events that subsequently occur. Mercutio is central to the audience's enjoyment of the play as his character was essential as a driving force in the play. He affected the book in three ways: By foreseeing the trouble that would come from Romeo's affair and thereby foreshadowing the impending doom to come in the play; his character contrasted with that of Romeo's; and Mercutio's death so enraged Romeo, that he slew Tybalt which lead to Romeo's banishment, and ultimately, his death. Therefore Mercutio's character in the play was one who was necessary to foreshadow tragedy, and ultimately, to cause it. His presentation is of utmost importance in developing his character in the film and a sense of ambiguity and importance surround him. He is an integral part of the play bringing wit, intrigue, and humour to both the text and film versions and for that we appreciate Mercutio. ...read more.

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