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What themes are demonstrated with this passage from Romeo and Juliet?   Mercutio...

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chrisketavong | eNoter

Posted December 17, 2012 at 8:57 PM via web

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What themes are demonstrated with this passage from Romeo and Juliet?

 

 Mercutio
 
 Nay, an there were two such, we should have none 
    shortly, for one would kill the other. Thou! why, 
    thou wilt quarrel with a man that hath a hair more, 
    or a hair less, in his beard, than thou hast: thou 
    wilt quarrel with a man for cracking nuts, having no 
    other reason but because thou hast hazel eyes: what 
    eye but such an eye would spy out such a quarrel? 
    Thy head is as fun of quarrels as an egg is full of 
    meat, and yet thy head hath been beaten as addle as 
    an egg for quarrelling: thou hast quarrelled with a 
    man for coughing in the street, because he hath 
    wakened thy dog that hath lain asleep in the sun: 
    didst thou not fall out with a tailor for wearing 
    his new doublet before Easter? with another, for 
    tying his new shoes with old riband? and yet thou 
    wilt tutor me from quarrelling!  Act III, Scene 1

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 2) Distinguished Educator

Posted December 17, 2012 at 11:10 PM (Answer #1)

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This passage from the beginning of Act III of Romeo and Juliet contains much situational irony as Mercutio, whose name suggests a mercurial, or volatile personality, scolds Benevolio, the usual peace-maker, for quarreling. Of course, the irony is that it is Mercutio who engages in a quarrel with Tybalt in this same scene.

In essence, then, Mercutio describes himself rather than Benvolio. And, ironically also, it is Benvolio who cautions Mercutio when they see the Capulets coming,

We talk here in the public haunt of men.
Either withdraw unto some private place
And reason coldly of your grievances,
Or else depart. Here all eyes gaze on us. (3.1.49-52) 

Of course, the passage from the beginning of Act III exemplifies the theme of Impetuosity that prevails throughout the drama with Romeo's hasty switch from his love for Rosaline to Juliet, his immediate proposal of marriage to Juliet after first meeting her, their hasty marriage, his revengeful stabbing of Tybalt after the killing of Mercutio, and his reckless purchase of poison and consumption of it after his hasty assumption that Juliet is dead in the catacombs.

Juliet, too, exhibits impetuous behavior in her marriage to Romeo even after learning that he is an enemy of her family, in her reactionary response to her father when he tells her that she must marry Paris, in her hasty agreement to follow Friar Laurence's plan although she fears that she may not wake up after taking the potion, and in her quick despair when she awakens and finds Romeo dead.

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