The Characteristics of a Quality Friend: Empathy and Emotional Support

Categories: Romeo And Juliet

What makes a good friend? Perhaps someone who cares and comforts you. Maybe someone who reassures yourself and your feelings. In one of William Shakespeare’s most famous plays, Romeo and Juliet, Romeo considers Mercutio his best friend even when Mercutio is seen as an unsympathetic friend who insults people and invalidates others’ emotions. Mercutio is neither a good person nor is he a good friend to Romeo; his intentions are not for Romeo’s well-being but instead, just for Mercutio’s own amusement and self by ridiculing Romeo for falling in love, disregarding his feelings and fears, blaming both Montague and Capulet houses for his own death, and giving immorally wrong advice to Romeo.

Because Romeo defines Mercutio as his best friend, it's natural that he would like to consult him about his thoughts, worries, and feelings. At the beginning of the play, where Mercutio offered Romeo to have fun with him at the masquerade ball but Romeo opposed the offer initially due to the concerning dream he had prior to this.

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Romeo questioned what type of dream Mercutio had and he answered by saying, “That dreamers often lie” (I.iv.50-54). While Romeo is expressing his worrisome dream, Mercutio spewed out a pun with the double meaning of the word, “lie,” that falsified everything and anything about Romeo’s dream.

After a few more exchanges between the two, Mercutio states in his soliloquy about Queen Mab that, “And in this state she gallops night by night / Through lovers’ brains, and then they dream of love” (I.

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iv.72). This shows that Mercutio thinks that Romeo’s heartbrokenness is like a dream, and like a dream, it's all made-up. Mercutio acts nonchalantly even when the situation calls for a more stern attitude; Romeo lets out his thoughts and feelings, expecting to get some comfort, but just ends up with Mercutio invalidating his worries and sorrows. During the masquerade ball, Romeo talked about love and himself to Mercutio in the play for advice. Mercutio said, “If love be rough with you, be rough with love” (I.iv.27). Right here, shows that Mercutio is implying to Romeo to have sex as a way to get over the feelings of love.

At best, Mercutio is seen as a friend who wants Romeo to enjoy himself and helps him have fun. In this case, Mercutio is once again disregarding Romeo’s love. He advises Romeo with a method to get over his love through immorally wrong deeds; this displays that Mercutio can certainly be a bad influence on Romeo and that he doesn’t truly care about how the consequences of his actions may or may not hurt other people. The Montague and Capulet houses had always been at odds, but after Romeo had wed with Juliet, that made Tybalt a relative to Romeo by marriage. Subsequent to the marriage, Romeo encountered Tybalt but refused to fight him at first because he was now considered family by law. Romeo said that he loved Tybalt like himself but couldn’t tell the specific reason which just confused and angered Tybalt even more.

Mercutio gets fed up with Romeo unwilling to fight and decides to go against his wishes to fight Tybalt. Romeo then steps in between the fight to attempt to stop the two, only to have Mercutio, his best friend, get stabbed fatally by Tybalt. Mercutio blames his coming death saying, “A plague o’ both your houses!... / Why the devil came you between us? I was hurt under your arm” (III.i.103-107). The whole fight started by Mercutio, he, himself, got impatient and angered Tybalt. His last words weren’t about gratitude towards Romeo but instead, words of hatred that cursed and blamed both the Montague and Capulet houses for his death - even though the only one you could blame in this situation is Mercutio himself for throwing himself at the fight. Mercutio helps Romeo unwind, relax and have fun but his mockery, puns, and advice aren’t the best for Romeo. The actions and intentions of Mercutio reflect him as uncaring, a trouble-maker, and brews others’ ire that often leads to a much worse situation. Mercutio has influenced and impacted Romeo negatively and is a terrible friend who’s only at his side for his own selfishness and desires.

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The Characteristics of a Quality Friend: Empathy and Emotional Support. (2022, May 23). Retrieved from

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