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Mercutio and Friar Lawrence - character study

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Introduction

"The Most Interesting Characters in the play are not Romeo and Juliet" I believe that the above statement is true and I agree with it entirely. If it wasn't for the other characters the play would go something like this: "Romeo met Juliet, they fell in love, and lived happily ever after." How boring! You need other characters to complicate matters a bit. For this essay, I shall write about two other characters in the play that have a great influence on the chain of events in it: Mercutio and Friar Lawrence. Mercutio Mercutio is one of the most unique characters in Romeo and Juliet. His language is always powerful and imaginative. He represents all that is funny, youthful and playful in the play and has an important role. First of all, Mercutio is Romeo's friend. He is neither a Montague, nor a Capulet. Therefore, he has not been born into the family feud, but his friendship with Romeo does make him associated with the Montagues. Mercutio's character stands out from the rest because of the energy in everything he says. He is very fun loving and has a genuine love for life. He lives life on the edge and is always looking for something new and exciting to do. He is constantly playing on words, using metaphors and words with two or more meanings. Romeo describes him as "a gentleman...who loves to hear himself talk." As displayed in his famous "Queen Mab speech" in Act I scene iv he is spectacularly creative. He describes in detail everything about a little world he has imagined. He uses Celtic mythology to explain his ideas about how we get our dreams. ...read more.

Middle

He deliberately annoys Tybalt, by doing things like purposely mistaking meanings of words. For example, in line 41, Tybalt begins addressing Mercutio about the relationship between Romeo and Juliet, and Mercutio takes the word "consort" as being related to playing music, instead of friendship. Instances like this simply make the argument more and more heated until Mercutio takes Tybalt's final blow, while Romeo is standing between them, trying to stop the fight. This symbolises how, try as he will to end the fighting between the Montagues and the Capulets, Romeo cannot do so. Mercutio's death also alters the mood of the play entirely. When Tybalt kills Mercutio, the attributed of a comedy die with him. From now on, the play becomes a tragedy. This shows how Mercutio is a strong representation of all that is youthful and carefree in the play. This is why I prefer Zefirelli's version of the scene. It shows Mercutio being funny and unserious even while the fight is happening which makes things all the more tragic when he dies. When the spectators finally realise that he is actually dead, the mood of the play changes very suddenly, making the audience extremely shocked. In Baz Lehrmann's version, I think that Mercutio's death is all too predictable because of the bad weather and all the other dark and death implying effects before it. Mercutio's character doesn't change very much during the play. The only slight change one might see is when he is about to die he yells "A plague on both your houses" This may be regarded as a change because Mercutio has never been so serious before. He has never expressed any disagreement about the relationship between the Montagues and the Capulets. Now, he seems to realise the damage the fighting is capable of doing. ...read more.

Conclusion

His decision to wed the couple results in Juliet having to appear dead because of her marriage to Paris. He fails to get the message to Romeo about this, which results in him going to her grave and killing himself. This causes Juliet to kill herself too. Friar Lawrence interacts with all the other characters very placidly and in a very friendly way. It is because of this that Romeo confides in him about his love for Juliet. He knows what his pupils are like and how the behave. We can see this when he calls Juliet "pensive daughter" and shows his knowledge of her headstrongness by saying "thou hast the strength of will to slay thyself." In this act we can also see that he is empathetic to Juliet. He says "O, Juliet, I already know thy grief". Contradictory to form, however, earlier in act III scene iii he lays in to Romeo , because of his crying. "Art thou a man?" he questions, "thy tears are womanish!" Perhaps Friar Lawrence is trying to do the best for Romeo in getting him to toughen up a bit. This is important because it shows us how men were supposed to be like in Shakespeare's time. He continues his onslaught, telling Romeo that he is to blame for his banishment "hast thou slain Tybalt?" and "powder in a skills soldier's flask is set afire by thine own ignorance." Perhaps he is cross with Romeo for putting this on him and making it his responsibility. Friar Lawrence did everything he could to try and allow Romeo and Juliet to live in peace. Maybe with a little more time he could have planned things better. The countless mistakes by Friar Lawrence are understandable, but deadly. He was a man of good intentions, but one of short sight. ...read more.

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