2 Answers | Add Yours
Mercutio is the speaker of the quote in question. A little while after the marriage of Romeo and Juliet, Benvolio and Mercutio meet on the street. Benvolio, being the sensible guy that he is, suggests that they retire in order to escape a fight with the Capulets on this very hot day. Mercutio, however, is hoping for a good fight, and tries his best to egg Benvolio on. Benvolio, however, cannot be swayed (perhaps as a good example of foreshadowing of what is to come). As Mercutio continues to taunt Benvolio, Mercutio begins listing all the different silly reasons why Benvolio would have quarreled with a Capulet in the past: "for cracking nuts" or for having "hazel eyes" or for "coughing in the street" or for "tying his new shoes." Finally, Mercutio boasts:
Thy head is as full of quarrels as an egg is full of meat; and yet thy head hath been beaten as addle as an egg for quarreling. (3.1.21-23)
Mercutio continues to list reasons Benvolio has quarreled in the past until Mercutio gets so disgusted that he yells, "And yet thou wilt tutor me from quarreling!" (3.1.29-30) It matters not, however, for their conversation is cut short by the arrival of Tybalt, . . . and bloodshed ensues.
In Act III, Scene I, Mercutio ridicules Benvolio for getting into quarrels over trivial matters:
What eye but such an eye would spy out such a quarrel? Thy head is as full of quarrels as an egg is full of meat, and yet thy head hath been beaten as addle as an egg for quarreling. Thou has quarreled with a man for coughing in the street, because he hath wakened thy dog that hath lain asleep in the sun. Dist thou not fall out with a tailor for wearing his new doublet before Easter? With another for tying his new shoes with old ribbon? And yet thou wilt tutor me from quarreling! (15-21)
What is ironical here is that later in the scene, Mercutio--whose name suggests a mercurial personality--becomes as quickly angered in the hot temperature of the day as Benvolio has. When he feels that Tybalt insults Romeo's honor by saying, "Mercutio, thou consort'st with Romeo" (33), Mercutio retorts,
Consort! What, dost thou make us minstrels? An thou make minstrels of us look to hear nothing but discords. Here's my fiddlestick, her's that shall make you dance. 'Zounds, consort! (34-35)
Perhaps Mercutio's previous arguing with Benvolio, along with the temperature, has so heated him that he is thus so easily incited to anger himself. And, despite Benvolio's second warning that they should withdraw to where they cannot be seen publicly, Mercutio throws caution away: "Men's eyes were made to look, and let them gaze./I will not budge for no man's pleasure, I (41-42).
Here again is the motif of impetuous behavior exhibited by the youth of the play.
We’ve answered 327,500 questions. We can answer yours, too.Ask a question