Shakespeare has no doubt created some of the most dynamic and interesting characters in written history, and in Romeo and Juliet there were several memorable ones. Aside from the hero and heroine, the voluble and witty Mercutio is as memorable a character as is found in all of Shakespeare's plays. He acts as a significant character in terms of plot advancement; but more importantly, Mercutio himself is a fascinating man in many aspects.
Mercutio is not part of the Montague family, he is however a friend of Romeo's and related to the Prince of Verona. One would think this puts him relatively outside the family feud, but we learn that Mercutio is only all to willing to play along with this adversary, and ultimately his quick and volatile nature lead to his untimely death.
Mercutio was first introduced to us in Act I, Scene 4; when Romeo, Benvolio and the gang are on the way to the Capulets' feast. Although it was only his first appearance, he captured immediate attention with his comments. We get the feeling that Mercutio will not stay a sideline character. He is shown joking and punning with Romeo on heaviness and lightness as well as how it relates to love. Mercutio and Romeo's friendship and obvious closeness is to be noted.
"A gentleman, Nurse, that loves to hear himself talk, and will speak more in a minute than he will stand to in a month."
That was Romeo's description of Mercutio seen in Act II, Scene 4. Indeed, Mercutio is a man of many words and his language is full of jokes, puns and sexual double meanings. To understand Mercutio fully we must first understand his words, and sometimes that can be hard to as his word play is easily interpreted in more than one way. More than anyone else in the play Mercutio uses puns. To an Elizabethan this was the sign of a quick wit, to be able to see different meanings in the same word. Shakespeare knew that well and incorporated his own wit into Mercutio's character. We come to associate Mercutio with puns...
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