This scene opens with two of Romeo's friends, Benvolio and Mercutio, talking. Tension and suspense is established when Benvolio says,
'The day is hot, the Capulets abroad,
And, if we meet, we shall not 'scape a brawl'
The 'fiery Tybalt' enters looking for Romeo. He felt that Romeo had insulted him by going to the Capulet masked ball and he wanted to exact his revenge.
Mercutio deliberately insults him and draws his sword. Just as Benvolio tries to calm them down, Romeo enters. Tybalt tries to incite Romeo into fighting by insulting him: 'Romeo, the love I bear thee can afford/ No better term than this, – thou art a villain.'
Romeo resists Tybalt's challenge because he is now related by marriage to him. Mercutio is embarrassed by Romeo's inaction and he challenges Tybalt. As Romeo tries to stop the fight Mercutio is mortally wounded by Tybalt.
As Mercutio dies he says, 'A plague o' both your houses! / They have made worms' meet of me.' Romeo realises he is partially responsible for his friend's death and his anger leads him to kill Tybalt. He then realises he is 'fortune's fool' and flees the place.
The Prince of Verona arrives and decides to exile Romeo from the city.
What are the underlying causes of conflict in this scene?
The main cause of the conflict in this scene arises 'From ancient grudge' between two major families in Verona – the Capulets and the Montagues. The feud is so strong that the play opens with their servants fighting. Indeed, the rift is so strong that the Prince of Verona is prompted to announce, 'If ever you disturb our streets again/ Your lives will pay the forfeit of the peace.'
Another cause of the conflict is the mercurial nature of Tybalt. He saw Romeo's appearance at the Capulet masked ball as an insult and was determined to challenge Romeo....