In Romeo and Juliet each character has a specific role. Mercutio’s role is the most important. He is the kinsman to the prince and Romeo’s closest friend and confidante, and in this role he can be very inluential to Romeo and can influence the decisions made and the directions the play takes. He uses his humour and wit to lead the other characters to the climax. He is in a difficult position, as the friend of Romeo and the princes kinsman, but all these factors contribute to the memorable character he is.
Mercutio is the driving force behind the play, as he fortells or is the cause of most of the major events.
Before the Capulets party Benvolio advises they enter quietly, dance and leave, but Mercutio, the only person in this scene actually invited to the play, disagrees; ‘duns the mouse, the constables own word, if thou art dun, we’ll draw thee from the mire’ Mercutio is saying that only a mouse should be silent and small. In this instance Mercutio is moving the play along by teasing Benvolio and Romeo into staying at the party longer, which turned out to be fatal.
The party is a major event in the play because Romeo meets Juliet there, and consequently decides his love for Rosaline was nothing but a crush. The next major event in the play is Mercutio’s own death, this is often believed to be the climax in the play because from there on everything changes for the worse.
In Mercutio’s last scene Romeo intervenes as Mercutio is fighting Tybalt and Mercutio is wounded under Romeo’s arm, Mercutio then makes Romeo question why he intervened and then to feel responsible for Mercutio’s death, he seeks revenge on Tyalt and is banished, which provides the complication for the story.
These are just two examples of situations where Mercutio has either used his wit to manipulate Romeo into doing something (the party) or made Romeo question what is going on and who is to blame.
Mercutio’s death is the only time in the play where he accepts that the feud plays a bigger role in his life than he likes to think.
Before this he treats the feud as more of a joke, he doesn’t think about the consequences of bringing a Montague to the Capulets party. In fact, you could say that Mercutio enjoys the tensions between the two families as it provides situations where he can stir up some fun. He does this when Tybalt is searching for Romeo and Mercutio warns him that if Tybalt starts a fight Romeo will not back down, then, when Romeo will not fight Mercutio takes his place.
“A plague on both your houses, they have made worms meat out of me”
Mercutio does not say Tybalt has made worms meat out him, he says they, both the houses. As he is dying he curses the house of Capulet and Montague three times, he knows that his death was not caused by fate but from him getting to close to the feud.
Romeo and Juliet is well known for being a Comedy and a Tragedy, yet when Mercutio dies so does the comedy.
A comedy is a drama where satire or humour is used and this definitly defines the scenes Mercutio is involved in. Mercutio is the bearer of all the humour in the play; the only time any other character shows any wit is when they are in the company of Mercutio. This is shown in Act two, scene four, when Romeo and Mercutio have a battle of wits, when the scene before Romeo was almost begging the Friar to marry Romeo to Juliet. Because every one of Mercutio’s lines is full of multiple puns and jokes his lines previous to his death are noticed and remembered by the audience for the fact that he curses the houses, even Romeo’s and also states that he is hurt and ‘sped’. Romeo doesn’t really take him seriously at first:”The hurt cannot be much”
Then, as soon as Romeo realizes Mercutio really is dying Mercutio renews his humour and makes plays on the word ‘grave’; this last bout of humour quickly turns into rage.
He, Mercutio was dying from a scratch!
“Zounds, a dog, a rat, a mouse, a cat, to scratch a man to death!
A Braggart, a rouge, a villian, that fights by the book of arithmatic”
When Tybalt’s challenge to Romeo arrived at the Montague house Mercutio told Benvolio that he hated Tybalt for his fancy dressing and manners to be accepted into society, and here he was, dying from a scratch delt by
“The pox of such antic, lisping, affecting
fantasicoes, these new tuners of accent.
From here on the play descends to a Tragedy, a dramatic performance where the main characters are led to ruin and misery.
The character of Mercutio is short lived but best remembered for his quick wit and humour in otherwise boring or serious situations, he plays a vital part in the play because he can move the play in new directions, being Romeo’s friend and the Princes kin.
He finds it hard to stay neutral in the feud and this contributes to his death in the end.
It is because of these characteristics that he is the most remembered character in Romeo and Juliet.