Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet: Act 2, Scene 4

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In William Shakespeare's play, Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare uses many literary devices, such as characterization, to make his play effective. Indirect and direct characterization is used with Mercutio in act 2, scene 4 to help the audience perceive his vulgar character.

While Mercutio was frolicking, the nurse asks Romeo, "I pray you, sir, what saucy merchant was this that was so full of his ropery?" This is a direct characterization of Mercutio, who is being addressed as a foul mouthed punk full of crude jokes by an elder. By using this literary device, the audience knows that Mercutio is rotten and repugnant. He likes to make jokes, no matter how disrespectful they are, to bring amusement.

Mercutio says, "'Tis no less, I tell you, for the bawdy hand of the dial is now upon the prick of noon." This is an indirect characterization of Mercutio. From his words and actions towards others, the audience can tell that his language is full of sexual innuendo. He puts forth his absurdity to bring about laughter and attention.

Romeo tells the nurse that Mercutio is "a gentleman that loves to hear himself talk." This is a direct characterization of Mercutio showing the audience that he likes to draw attention to himself. His ludicrous behavior defines his antic disposition. He advertises his zany attribute to promote his reputation.

Mercutio's character was very vibrant and obnoxious. He liked to bring laugher and draw attention by making a joke out of everything regardless of whether it was rude and offensive. By using indirect and direct characterization, the audience was able to fully understand Mercutio and the other characters as well. Shakespeare used the device very well in his play. He made it interesting and entertaining by bringing in humor.
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