Romeo and Juliet


Act 3

Act III: Scene 1

As Romeo and Juliet are being married, without the knowledge of anyone in their families, their families are encountering one another for another dramatic fight. Mercutio and Benvolio are walking around Verona. While they are not looking for trouble, they do not appear to be avoiding trouble, either. They run into Tybalt, who is looking for Romeo. They are already aware that Tybalt is trying to find Romeo in order to duel with him. Mercutio and Benvolio have different attitudes about a possible duel. Benvolio is tired of the fighting between the families and hopes to do something that will discourage further violence. In contrast, Mercutio is hoping to make the dispute between the Montagues and Capulets into something personal between Tybalt and himself, and makes Tybalt the object of his jeers and taunts.

Romeo enters the scene. Now married to Juliet, Romeo has extra motive to try to end the feud between the Capulets and Montagues, but none of the other men are aware of the marriage. Tybalt begins to taunt Romeo, hoping to provoke him to a fight. Romeo refuses to be provoked, aware that he and Tybalt are now related through marriage, and not wanting to harm one of Juliet’s relatives. Romeo’s refusal to defend his own honor enrages Mercutio, and Mercutio steps forward to battle Tybalt. Tybalt and Mercutio get into a sword fight. Romeo wants to stop the fight and steps between them. However, Tybalt takes advantage of Romeo’s action and uses that opportunity to stab Mercutio. The wound kills Mercutio, who blames both the Capulets and Montagues for his death. Enraged that Tybalt has killed his friend, Romeo turns and kills Tybalt.

One of the more interesting things in this scene is Mercutio’s response when he realizes that he is dying; he curses the Montagues and the Capulets. On some level, this makes sense because his death is the indirect result of the feud between the families. However, Mercutio did not die as a result of the feud. Tybalt did not challenge Mercutio to a duel. In fact, Tybalt...

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