Explore the significance of the character Mercutio in the play Romeo and Juliet.

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Explore the significance of the character Mercutio in the play Romeo and Juliet.

Although Shakespeare’s play ‘Romeo and Juliet’ does not focus on Mercutio, he is one of the most unique characters of the play. He manages to manipulate other characters of the play through his imaginative and powerful language.  He usually takes the lead in conversations and his friends generally go by what he says.  Mercutio is neither Capulet nor Montague but his strong bond with Romeo associates him with the Montagues. In the play, Mercutio tends to stand out compared to the other characters; this is mainly because of his energetic and outrageous personality. His comical character lightens the mood of the tragic love story and helps to increase the sympathy of the audience when he later dies.

Mercutio is a catalyst, meaning that he has the ability to change what people think or do. An example of this is in Act 1 Scene 4, where Romeo is sad and doesn’t want to go to the Capulet’s ball but Mercutio lightens the mood with puns and word play;        

“You are a lover; borrow Cupid's wings”

An Elizabethan audience would have found this funny because cupid was and still is very well known as being the god of love. Mercutio is comedian, always making jokes at every chance he gets. He lives life on the edge and is always looking for something new and exiting to do. This could also make him an antagonist and troublemaker, especially when the Capulet’s are involved. His inevitable death and the death of several others are caused by Mercutio living life on the edge.

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Mercutio puts on a front which tells the audience that he does not respect women, such as the way he often uses animal features to describe women, “spiders…gallops…pig’s tail” perhaps suggesting that women are less superior to men.

However, when you look closer into his language you can see that his feelings go deeper, for example, in Act 1 Scene 4, Mercutio speaks about women being like Queen Mab;

“Her wagon-spokes made of long spiders' legs,

The cover of the wings of grasshoppers”

During the queen Mab speech in particular, he uses sibilance, sibilance it ...

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