In Act 3, Scene 1 of Romeo and Juliet what does Mercutio say about Benvolio's fighting habits?

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robertwilliam | College Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

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It's a hot day, and the "mad blood is stirring", Benvolio says at the very start of the scene. Mercutio, it seems, is looking for a fight - actively looking for trouble, even though Benvolio has told him that the Capulets are out.

Mercutio argues that Benvolio is extremely quick to anger, and quick to quarrel:

Come, come, thou art as hot a jack in thy mood as any in Italy; and as soon moved to be moody, and as soon moody to be moved.

This theory is then backed up with several examples:

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. Thy head is as full of quarrels...

Benvolio, Mercutio says, would quarrel about the most trivial of matters. In short, Benvolio is always up for a fight.

Whether you believe this character sketch of Benvolio, who throughout the play is portrayed as a peacemaker, and whose name means good-wishing, is a different story. Personally, I'm rather inclined to think that Mercutio's claims are somewhat ironic.

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