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What role does the character of Tybalt play in 'Romeo and Juliet'?

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Introduction

What role does the character of Tybalt play in 'Romeo and Juliet'? The Shakespearean play, 'Romeo and Juliet', is a tale of two houses, separated by a feud: on one side are the Montagues and on the other side are the Capulets. This "ancient grudge" (Prologue) is the key background plot to the play, and provides the reason for the adversity of Romeo and Juliet's love for each other. When the members of the different houses come into contact, there always appears to be friction, fuelled by the feud; in this Tybalt plays a major role. He is a Capulet, so the friction only occurs with Montagues, namely Romeo, Benvolio and a friend of the Montagues, Mercutio. He is referred to by Mercutio (Act 2 Scene 4) as, "the courageous captain of compliments"; Shakespeare uses alliteration to emphasise his description of the high standard of duelling ability gifted to Tybalt. Tybalt himself is very boastful of his own skill at duelling, as he regularly speaks of duelling, and would not do so if he had no chance of winning. ...read more.

Middle

Honour plays a large part in the play as one of the ideals that governs the actions of the characters. This is also a large part of Tybalt's attitude towards others. At the party, which Capulet holds, (Act 1, Scene 5) Tybalt wants to attack Romeo for entering the party uninvited, but Capulet restrains him, "Here in my house do him disparagement; therefore be patient, take no note of him." Although Capulet is seen to be restraining Tybalt, the words he uses suggest he is telling him to attack Romeo at another time, showing he has a high value of honour too, but the fact that he does not let Tybalt challenge Romeo outright questions his opinion of the importance of the feud. Honour also leads to the death of Tybalt. When Tybalt is challenged to duel with Mercutio (Act 3, Scene 1) he kills him. Romeo then honours the death of Mercutio and takes revenge on his death by killing Tybalt. This is unusual for Romeo, as before he was trying not to fight Tybalt, but wanted to make peace with him because he is Juliet's cousin. ...read more.

Conclusion

This shows that his uncle commands the conversation, and therefore has some control over the otherwise "fiery Tybalt". On the large scale of the play, the role of Tybalt is a major part. It was his fault that Romeo was banished and therefore the facilitator of the tragedy. On the other hand, even if Tybalt had not killed Mercutio and Romeo had not been banished by the Prince, Romeo would still face the problem of Lord and Lady Capulet wanting Juliet to marry Paris. Therefore the Friars plan may still of been required, and the tragedy could have taken place without the role of Tybalt being needed. But as I have stated, the role of Tybalt is key. If the role of Tybalt had not occurred in the play, then the feud could have been ended long ago, instead of him keeping the hostilities going between the houses. Tybalt plays a deciding role in Romeo and Juliet, and without him; the plot could not be as diverse and interesting as it is. The story of Romeo and Juliet is completed by the actions of Tybalt, and the colourful and rich language he uses which differs greatly from others in the play. ...read more.

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