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Romeo and Juliet has been described as a play of contrasts: love and hate, joy and sorrow, light and dark, youth and age, life and death. Explore the ways in which the characters of Tybalt and Mercutio are contrasted in the play.

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Introduction

Romeo and Juliet has been described as a play of contrasts: love and hate, joy and sorrow, light and dark, youth and age, life and death. Explore the ways in which the characters of Tybalt and Mercutio are contrasted in the play. Romeo and Juliet is a love story full of contrasts: love and hate; joy and sorrow; light and dark and Montagues and Capulets. The main contrast is between the Montagues and the Capulets; the audience would know from the prologue that there would be a contrast, "From ancient grudge break to new mutiny." This give the audience an idea of how the families became such bitter enemies; this 'grudge' results in five innocent youths dying, two of whom are Mercutio and Tybalt. The character Tybalt is based on a character from Arthur Brooke's poem, where as Mercutio was Shakespeare's own creation, to counteract possibly with the villainous Tybalt. Tybalt and Mercutio do not actually meet onstage until Act 3 Scene 1 when they fight; Shakespeare could have done this with the intention that when it came to them meeting it would be more dramatic. Therefore the audience see the characters develop and are able to imagine what would happen if they did ever meet. They are contrasting characters, Tybalt is aggressive; "I hate the word,/ As I hate hell," this shows that he does not want to make peace with the Montagues even though he does not know why they hate each other. ...read more.

Middle

Mercutio does not think that love is sincere and that Romeo is being silly because he thinks he loves Rosaline. He also thinks that dreams are stupid; "Which are children of an idle brain, / Begot of nothing but vain fantasy". Mercutio has strong opinions and he is not afraid to say what he thinks, "children of an idle brain". His views are a contrast to his personality because he seems so positive and his negativity about dreams and love could be because he was hurt by someone. The audience here can see hidden depths to his character. The main difference between Mercutio and Tybalt is in their speech; Tybalt speaks simply and he gets straight to the point, "Uncle, this is a Montague, our foe: / A villain that is hither come in spite." Tybalt gets straight to the point and does not use any poetic language, because he does not think like Mercutio. Mercutio, on the other hand uses figurative language to get his point across; "Her traces of the smallest spider's web." Here Mercutio is describing Queen Mab's carriage; Queen Mab is the Queen of dreams. When Mercutio mentions this it would appeal to the Elizabethan audience, because they were superstitious and believed in Queen Mab, perhaps they would have responded to Mercutio's speech, until Romeo interrupts him. ...read more.

Conclusion

The family name is important hence the reason why Tybalt suddenly becomes aggressive when Romeo enters; "thou art a villain." Tybalt calls Romeo a "villain" because he attended the Capulet party and he is a Montague. Mercutio has family pride too, even though he is not a Montague, he is Romeo's friend so he believes that the family name is very important, "O calm, dishonourable, vile submission!" Mercutio is infuriated because Romeo is not fighting for the family and he is being cowardly and he should be fighting because he is a Montague, men in Elizabethan time thought of it cowardly if one did not fight for their family, therefore the audience would have seen Romeo as dishonouring his family. Tybalt kills Mercutio in a cowardly way, "Tybalt under Romeo's arm thrusts Mercutio in." Tybalt, on the other hand, kills Mercutio when he is not looking, because Romeo tells them to stop, therefore he did not kill Mercutio because he was endangered it was because he was scared that he would lose - a contrast to Mercutio's sense of honour and mortality. Tybalt and Mercutio are contrasted in Romeo and Juliet because they show the consequences to a feud which goes back generations. Mercutio is portrayed as a man who has a vivid imagination and the joker of the play, whereas Tybalt is aggressive and he knows what he wants and will go after it until he finally achieves his goals. ...read more.

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