In Romeo and Juliet, why does Mercutio tell Romeo the story about Queen Mab?

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In the play 'Romeo and Juliet' by William Shakespeare, the author may have had several motives for having Mercutio tell the Queen Mab story to Romeo. Firstly of course, it is a bright, interesting and imaginative piece of writing and adds colour to the play. Secondly, this is a story with which the audience may already have been familiar - there are many 'faerie queene' tales and legends including Maeve in Ireland and even the similar Titania. The story is also a useful way of adding the theme of the supernatural to the play, tying in with the idea of Fate, star-cross'd lovers and the couple's destiny being written in the heavens. Also, look carefully at the dramatic angle: what was to be gained production-wise by having these characters detained for so long by the story?

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