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In Romeo and Juliet how does Shakespeare use Romeo and Mercutio to comment on...

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brandih | eNotes Employee

Posted April 11, 2013 at 4:33 PM via web

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In Romeo and Juliet how does Shakespeare use Romeo and Mercutio to comment on relationships?  Please include examples of two contrasting scenes.

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tinicraw | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted April 11, 2013 at 5:07 PM (Answer #1)

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Shakespeare uses Romeo and Mercutio's discussions to bring up both sides of an issue. Romeo and Mercutio disagree about the meaning behind dreams as well as the meaning of relationships. The first discussion that shows how Mercutio and Romeo differ on the topic of love is in the first act when they debate how powerful love is. Romeo is upset because of Rosaline's rejection of him, so Mercutio advises:

Mercutio - You are a lover; borrow Cupid's wings,

               And soar with them above a common bound.

Romeo -   I am too sore enpierced with his shaft

               To soar with his light feathers, and so bound                  (I.iv.17-20).

This encounter discusses the different extremes where love can exist--either it is light and happy or it is sad and heavy. The two go on about the subject to the point that Romeo seems to get more depressed about relationships and Mercutio's motto surfaces when he says, "If love be rough with you, be rough with love;" (I.iv.27).

Although Romeo and Mercutio discuss love with women, their friendship is also discussed as to its importance between the two. Mercutio seems to think that friends come before a single man's womanly conquests; however, by Romeo's actions, it seems that he considers his love conquests above his friends. For example, Romeo jumps over the Capulet wall after the party and leaves his friends without explaining where he's going. Mercutio criticizes Romeo the next day, "You gave us the counterfeit fairly last night" (II.iv.42). Romeo doesn't understand so Mercutio tells him that "The slip, sir, the slip;" (II.iv.45) suggesting that he did not like Romeo's disrespectful behavior to his friends. Romeo explains that his reasons were honorable, but that can be argued. Are a single man's friends more important than his female conquests? Mercutio would say no.

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