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To me, the main three character traits that Mercutio has are these:
- He is really a pretty funny guy. He likes to make jokes and he really likes to make sexual references.
- He has a very quick temper. He seems like he is often pretty ready to fight.
- He has an angry streak in him.
Here are some quotes that should show each of these character traits:
For an example of how he likes to be funny, look at what he says about Romeo in Act II, Scene 1:
Nay, I'll conjure too.
Romeo! humours! madman! passion! lover!
Appear thou in the likeness of a sigh:
Speak but one rhyme, and I am satisfied;
Cry but 'Ay me!' pronounce but 'love' and 'dove;'
For his temper, look what he says to Tybalt when Tybalt asks if he can have a word with Mercutio:
Finally, for his anger, look at how many times he curses both the Capulets and the Montagues as he dies.
1. In Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, Mercutio, like the Nurse, is long-winded. His most verbose speech is his monologue in which he describes Queen Mab in a light-hearted manner that contrasts to Romeo's heavy use of oxymorons as he speaks of Rosalind in his gloomy love-sickness, and his emotionally charged romantic lines about Juliet. As Mercutio rambles on, Romeo stops him, saying,
Peace, peace, mercutio, peace!
Thou talk'st of nothing.
(Mercutio's monologue is in Act I, scene 4, ll.58-100)
2. This speech by Mercutio is a testimony to his eloquence, as well. For example, his description of Queen Mab is one of vivid and moving expression:
She is the fairies' midwife, and she comes/In shape no bigger than an agate stone/....Her wagon spokes made of long spinners' legs,/The cover, of the wings of grasshoppers;/Her traces, of the smallest spider's web;/Her collars, of the moonshine's wat'ry beams;/Her whip, of cricket's bone; the lash of film;/Her wagoner, a small grey-coated gnat,/Not half so big as a round little worm...(I, iv,58-70)
3. Also, like his name, Mercutio is mercurial since, at the beginning of Act III, it is he who ridicules Benvolio for saying they need to retire because of the heat, but then himself becoming heated over trivial matters when Mercutio is the very one who changes moods and becomes involved in heated conflict with Tybalt over Romeo's honor, a conflict that proves fatal:
Thou art like one of these fellows that, when he enters the confines of a tavern, claps me his sword upon the table and says 'God send me no need of thee!' and by the operation of the second cup draws him on the drawer, when indeed there is not need (III,i,5-10)
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