In William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet,
each character plays a specific role in driving the action forward and
shaping the play's theme. One secondary character, Mercutio, is essential
to the play. Mercutio is the Prince's kinsman, but more importantly,
he is Romeo's
friend and confidant.
Mercutio's concern is always for Romeo and for peace between the two families, the Capulets and the Montagues. Mercutio is the first to see that Romeo is deeply in love. In Act 2, scene 1, Mercutio calls for Romeo by saying, "Romeo! Humors! Madman! Passion! Lover!" He then says, "my invocation is fair and honest, in his mistress' name…." Mercutio shows his concern and expresses it to Romeo. He does not want Romeo to marry his mistress, Juliet, because he knows it will cause trouble between the two families.
Mercutio tries to convince Romeo that his love for Juliet will only cause problems and in the end, things will not work out. Romeo dismisses Mercutio as, "A gentleman, that loves to hear himself talk and will speak more in a minute than he will stand to in a month." Romeo does not heed the warnings of his good friend. Love has already overcome him and controls all of his thoughts and actions. This love prevents Mercutio from saving Romeo and keeping peace between the families.
In Act 3, scene 1, Mercutio fights Tybalt on behalf of Romeo and his relationship with Romeo. Romeo attempts to break up the fight, but Tybalt stabs Mercutio. As he is dying, Mercutio says, "A plague o' both your houses! I am sped…." He repeats this phrase twice more before he dies. It is after Mercutio's death that Romeo realizes what will be the consequences of his love affair. This leads Romeo to kill Tybalt, which in turn, leads to his exile and eventual death. Romeo says in line 135 of the same scene, "O, I am fortune's fool." Mercutio was correct in his predictions. The love between Romeo and Juliet ends up a tragedy for both families.
Mercutio's character is essential in driving the action forward in this play. He foreshadows the devastating events, serves as Romeo's friend, and gives the audience important information throughout the play. Mercutio's death is the turning point in the play. For all of these reasons, Mercutio is essential to the play.
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