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'Romeo and Juliet' - Characterisation of Mercutio

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´╗┐English Controlled Assessment The character of Mercutio is central to Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet (1597). Liminal, volatile and manipulative, he is presented through his language in the play and in Baz Luhrmann's adaptation "Romeo+Juliet"(1996), played by Harold Perrinea, through his costume, appearance and similarity through language. This essay will compare how these presentations are constructed, referring to both the play and the adaptation. Mercutio, whose name derives from Mercury, messenger of Gods in Roman mythology, can be depicted as a liminal character in both the play and the film adaptation. Mercutio does not belong to the Montagues or the Capulets and lies in between the rival families. In the play, his liminality is evident in the scene of his death. Tybalt challenges Romeo to a fight, but doe to the pacifist nature of Romeo, he refuses to fight and Mercutio fights instead to prevent Romeo from getting injured, but ends up getting wounded by Tybalt. ...read more.


In the play, this is most obvious when he delivers to Romeo a speech about love and dreams. He mentions "Queen Mab", a fictional character, which evidently shows that he is mocking Romeo as such things do not exist; he's trying to bring Romeo to reality regarding his feelings and dreams. Despite his teasing and humorous beginning to his speech, he quits the euphoric state that he is in and suddenly grows angry and adapts a hostile tone of voice saying "and bakes the elflocks in foul, sluttish hairs". The adjectives "sluttish" and "foul" clearly emphasise the antagonistic state that he is in. Shakespeare's use of language indicates how alert and cautious people have to be around him as he switches moods easily and without warning. Likewise in the film, he is also shown to be a volatile character through the way he interacts with the other characters. This is most evident in the scene where he faces Tybalt and starts mocking him; he insults him and taunts him, but no sign of aggression towards Tybalt. ...read more.


Likewise in the film adaptation, Mercutio dominates the scene that he is in, as well as manipulating those who do not do as he wants. Baz Luhrmann portrays this characteristic through props and sound. When Romeo tells Mercutio that he will follow, Mercutio does not like his reponse, he takes the gun and shoots in the air. The loud noise made by the gun automatically brought attention t Mercutio and the fact that he has a weapon brings a sense of violence to his character. This can be depicted as a manipulative technique as he is making Romeo do as he wants through aggression, reflecting that Mercutio is a character that will do anything to make people listen to him, making manipulation his key weapon. Romeo and Juliet is a Shakespearean love tragedy, where Mercutio lies between the two conflicting families. His liminality, volatility and manipulation drive him to his tragic death. Luhrmann's film version creates a convincing and dramatic version of the play through its characterisation of Mercutio. ...read more.

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