In William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, Benvolio's name comes from the same Latin words as the adjective benevolent. What are these Latin words and what do they mean?how does Benvolio's name...

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thanatassa's profile pic

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In WIlliam Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, the name of the character Benvolio probably derives directly from the term "benevolentia", meaning good will. This is a common Latin word meaning good will or wishes that was used in the context of the elementary Latin education Shakespeare probably received. It is a compound term derived from "bene" (well, adverbial form of bonus, good) and "volo", a verb meaning to wish. It is an appropriate name because Benvolio is a generally benevolent character, trying to make peace, and generally well disposed to everyone.

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elleoneiram's profile pic

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The “bene” in benevolent, beneficent, and beneficial mean “well” or “good,” just as the “Ben” in Benvolio signifies goodness. In the very first scene, Benvolio is the first noble and major character to appear when he breaks up a brawl. He has a line that is almost Christlike: he tells the fighters, “you know not what you do.” Tybalt then arrives and begins dueling Benvolio, in spite of his protests.

Benvolio is very conscientious about not quarreling in the streets. Even when there is no sign of a fray, he urges Mercutio to “retire,” sensing that “we shall not scape a brawl” due to the atmosphere of the city. When Mercutio and Tybalt draw their swords, Benvolio begs them to leave or argue in private. Neither listens to him, and they both end up dead.

The young Benvolio is also an honest communicator. He truthfully reports the first clash to Lord and Lady Montague. The prince also asks Benvolio about what transpired between Mercutio, Tybalt, and Romeo. Even though Lady Capulet accuses him of being biased and false in his report, he asserts, “This is the truth, or let Benvolio die.”

Benvolio is still just a youth who likes to jest and celebrate with his friends, but he is a faithful companion who comforts Romeo when he pines over Rosaline and cares for Mercutio as he dies. The virtuous Benvolio ends up as one of the play’s ultimate victims. In spite of his efforts to make peace, both of his closest friends die.

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emspeaks's profile pic

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The English adjective "benevolent" derives from the Latin "benevolentia." This Latin word is a combination of "bene" (meaning "well") and "volantem" (meaning "to wish").

Therefore, "benevolent" literally means that someone "wishes well."

In Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet," the character Benvolio stands out as someone who wishes well on the characters in general. He attempts to keep or generate peace (albeit unsuccessfully) between the warring Montague and Capulet families.

At the start of the play, Benvolio tries to distract his cousin Romeo from his affection for Rosaline: "By giving liberty unto thine eyes; Examine other beauties." (Act I, Scene 1)

Benvolio also tries to prevent fights and duels. ("Part, fools! Put up your swords; you know not what you do." - Act I) When Romeo slays Juliet's cousin Tybalt, Benvolio tries to reduce the punishment from death to banishment.

justmyinkblot's profile pic

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In William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, Benvolio's name comes from the word "benevolent". Benevolent is derived from the Latin words "bene", meaning "well", and "volente", meaning "wishing".

Benvolio's character is the very epitome of a well-wisher, or a peace-keeper. He is the character who is constantly trying to avoid conflicts, or break up fights.

I do but keep the peace; put up they sword,

Or manage it to part these men with me.

Act 1 Scene 1 line 5

 

 

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