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'Mercutio is comedy personified. His death marks a shift from the comic to the tragic.' How far is this true of 'Romeo and Juliet?'

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Kim Bridger 10S Friday 29th November 'Mercutio is comedy personified. His death marks a shift from the comic to the tragic.' How far is this true of 'Romeo and Juliet?' In 'Romeo and Juliet' Mercutio is the faithful friend of Romeo. His death comes as a huge shock to the audience, in Act three, Scene one, when he is brutally murdered by Tybalt, the violent cousin of Juliet. To understand the rest of the statement, one also has to look at the difference between a comedy and a tragedy. Shakespeare's plays can be separated into three different categories, the comedy, tragedy and the history. The comedy included amusing characters, with a familiar style of writing, humorous incidents and most importantly a happy ending. In contrast, the tragedy used serious or unhappy characters, a more serious, unnatural style of language, terrible and sad incidents and a sorrowful and sometimes horrific ending to the plot. In 'Romeo and Juliet' there are both comical and tragic moments and characters, however the play most definitely ends tragically. Before Mercutio's death, in Acts one and two there are many cases of comedy. In Act one, Sampson and Gregory, joke with puns and innuendoes. These jokes, like ''Tis well thou art not fish; if thou hadst, thou hadst been poor-John,' were necessary as although the play was a tragedy, comedy was needed so that the play did not become boring or too depressing for the expectant Elizabethan audience. ...read more.


Tybalt speaks in verse and uses alliteration, and blunt consonants to talk with his proud words, '...by the stock and honour of my kin, to strike him dead, I hold it not a sin,' proving him to be very vicious and vitriolic. The language he uses, contrasts with the natural, prose style of the comical Mercutio and the way Mercutio uses puns and innuendoes. However, Mercutio's passionate words like, 'misfortune' and 'sluttish,' when he professed his strong feelings about dreams are not unlike the proud words of Tybalt, showing a stark similarity. Mercutio is shown as being hot-tempered in the way that his mood changed abruptly, in the same way that Tybalt quickly gets violent when he sees Romeo at his party, 'Fetch me my rapier, boy,' he says almost instantaneously. A comedy, including, 'light and amusing characters,' with, 'laughable characters and incidents,' could not possibly include two very strong, erratic characters without becoming tragic. Their huge personalities overwhelm the storyline so that the audience would concentrate on them more instead of the plot. Such hate, and great emotions are very miserable and tragic in themselves, and so it is proven when Tybalt murders Mercutio, that their co-existence would indeed end in tragedy. The two characters are not the only examples of tragedy before Mercutio's death though. ...read more.


In the beginning acts of the play, Shakespeare cleverly builds up tension by masking small indications of the future tragedy in many comical scenes, therefore when the death occurs it is a huge shock and very upsetting. The way that Shakespeare emphasizes the upcoming death of the two lovers in his prologue too, is perhaps bizarre structuring, however the sonnet is in fact full of violent words, for example 'fatal' and 'rage' so it sets the tone of the play while lingering in the minds of the audience and building up suspense. Finally, the most amazing dramatic devices I think Shakespeare used are the way he played with the audience's emotions, giving them hope and then dashing it, keeping the audience constantly intrigued to the very end. I believe that Mercutio is 'comedy personified' as he is a character who uses language, puns and innuendoes, for example, to form a comical script very affectively. Mercutio's death most certainly changes a lot of things in the play, from different languages used to different character personalities. Before Mercutio's death there are many cases of comedy and a few bits of comedy, but in stark contrast, after Mercutio's death there is much more tragedy and hardly any comedy at all. Therefore, I definitely believe that his death creates many language changes, personality changes and occurrences change from being, 'laughable incidents' to 'terrible or sorrowful events.' Consequently, Mercutio's 'death marks a shift from the comic to the tragic.' ...read more.

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