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Romeo and Mercutio

By | March 2006
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Throughout the works of William Shakespeare, the main character is complemented with another character that acts or serves as the protagonist's foil. In Romeo & Juliet, the protagonist, Romeo, is fickle, idealistic, impractical and naïve. To balance Romeo as a character, Shakespeare creates Mercutio; a good friend of Romeo's who acts as his conscience. While Romeo has an idealistic perspective of the world and more specifically of love, Mercutio balances Romeo's weak points as a dreamer. Mercutio is pragmatic, sensible, and clever and a master on word play. Throughout the play, Mercutio mocks Romeo's naïve and ridiculous fascination with love. Early in the play, Romeo goes on and on about his deep infatuation with the beautiful Rosaline. Come night at the Capulet ball, Romeo ‘falls' in love with Juliet. Romeo's inconsistency ultimately brings him to his demise. Shakespeare utilizes this literary device of creating two extreme characters to draw the characters and to complement each other and make them their own. The first instance of this relationship that exists between Romeo and Mercutio is evident in ACT 1, SCENE 4. Romeo, Mercutio, and Benvolio are headed to the Capulet's party. While Romeo is idealistic in his naïve trust in love, Mercutio is more pragmatic and is not blinded by the follies of love. In a sense, Mercutio almost pities the fact that Romeo is so ignorant to reality. Because Romeo is so romantic and unrealistic, Mercutio acts as his conscience, a guiding basis for Romeo's irrational decisions. When Romeo announces absentmindedly, "I dreamed a dream to-night." (Act 1, Scene 4) Mercutio responds with his famous Queen Mab speech, "O, then, I see Queen Mab hath been with you. She is the fairies' midwife, and she comes in shape no bigger than an agate-stone…Through lovers' brains, and then they dream of love; O'er courtiers' knees, that dream on court'sies straight, O'er lawyers' fingers, who straight dream on fees, O'er ladies ' lips, who straight...

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