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In Act 3, Scene 1 Shakespeare creates many different emotions and dramatic effects through his writing. This is the part of the play where things start to get really serious and the tragedy begins. In some ways the fight reflects the play as a whole, it starts off fairly lightly and happily and ends in a dreadful tragedy. Act 3, Scene 1 is a very important scene. It contains two deaths, those of Mercutio and Tybalt. The consequence of this is Romeo’s banishment. The scene is therefore dramatically powerful but also essential in moving the plot forward.
This is a major turning point in the play.
The scene starts with Mercutio, (kinsman to the prince) and Benvolio, (cousin to Romeo) talking about meeting the Capulets. Benvolio tries to persuade Mercutio to leave, as he fears if they do meet the Capulets there will be a fight. Mercutio is not convinced. He says “Thou art like one of these fellows that, when he enters the confines of a tavern, claps me his sword upon the table, and says ‘God send me no need of thee’; and by the operation of the second cup draws him on the drawer, when indeed there is no need.
” He is teasing him, saying he is too quick to anger for consequential reasons. This creates slight tension between the two friends already building up the atmosphere for a brawl.
Tybalt and the other Capulets enter the scene, looking for Romeo. Tybalt approaches the Montagues and asks for a word with them.
Mercutio replies antagonistically “And but one word with one of us? Couple it with something, make it a word and a blow.” Tybalt, trying to anger him and provoke a fight.
Tybalt then says “Mercutio thou consortest with Romeo”.
Mercutio twists Tybalt’s words and replies “Consort? what, dost thou make us minstrels? And thou make minstrels of us, look to hear nothing but discords. Here’s my fiddlestick, here’s that shall make you dance. ‘Zounds, consort!” He makes it sound like Tybalt is taking the micky out of him because a minstrel was a musician and in those days they were treated as servants. He twists Tybalt’s words to make it seem as though he is insulting him. The way Mercutio speaks says a lot about his character. He is quite clever; he plays on words continuously throughout the scene. He enjoys joking about, he is playful but at the same time he knows the seriousness of the situation.
Just as the tension is rising between scornful Mercutio and malicious Tybalt, Romeo enters. Tybalt immediately turns his attention to Romeo, wanting revenge for his attendance at the Capulet party. He calls Romeo a ‘villain’ and draws his sword intending to fight him, saying “Boy, this shall not excuse the injuries that thou hast done me, therefore turn and draw.” He wants to fight Romeo but Romeo refuses as he has just married Tybalt’s cousin, Juliet. Romeo’s procrastinating, angers Mercutio, he says “O calm, dishonourable, vile submission.” He is seething now that Romeo has refused to fight, he suggests that he has dishonoured his family by saying he loves the Capulets as much as he loves his own family. Now there is not only a rivalry between the two families but one of Romeo’s best friends is refusing to support him. There is obviously no peace to be made.
Repeatedly throughout Romeo’s and Tybalts conversation, Tybalt refers to Romeo as ‘boy’. He suggests that Romeo hasn’t grown up enough yet, he isn’t a man, only a boy and not worthy of anything. He attempts to antagonise Romeo and provoke him to fight, but Romeo’s love for Juliet makes him keep calm.
Mercutio steps in and fights Tybalt, and when Romeo tries to break up the fight, Tybalt takes a cheap shot under Romeo’s arm and stabs Mercutio, then the Capulets run for it. Mercutio’s dying words are “No, ’tis not so deep as a well, nor so wide as a church door; but ’tis enough, ’twill serve. Ask for me tomorrow and you shall find me a grave man. I am peppered, I warrant for this world. A plague o’ both your houses!”
Even though dying Mercutio still retains his sense of humour. He makes a pun using the word ‘grave’. He’s being grave, as in serious but also referring to a grave where you bury someone, suggesting that he thinks his wound is fatal and it is likely he will die soon. He says his wound is not a big as it could be but it is enough to kill him, by using similies and joking about, Shakespeare makes you think Mercutio will live, so he creates even more shock when he does die. He blames the feuding families for his death which adds guilt to the mix of emotions already happening.
Dramatic effect is also achieved by Shakespeare when Romeo says that Tybalt has been his cousin but for one hour, in other words his time with Juliet as his wife has been so short and much of it has been taken up fueding with the Capulet family.
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