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What is Mercutio's attitude toward love? How do you know?

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clemsongurlmgb32 | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

Posted May 12, 2009 at 5:16 AM via web

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What is Mercutio's attitude toward love? How do you know?

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ebolstad | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Adjunct Educator

Posted May 12, 2009 at 7:02 AM (Answer #1)

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Mercutio, apparently a haunted former soldier, could, perhaps be termed a "nihilist".  His attitude towards love, therefore, is the same as his attitude towards just about everything else: it's all ultimately meaningless.  Despite this, Mercutio has an immense appetite for life's simple pleasures (friendship, drink, wordplay, horseplay, swordplay), but he has killed for the state, has seen death, and he senses the futility of life and all its machinations (such as the ancient and pointless ongoing feud between two otherwise perfectly respectable families).  Mercutio is given to us by Shakespeare as something of a foil for his friend, Romeo.  Younger and still idealistic, Romeo does not live as recklessly as Mercutio, but, because of his aged cynicism, Mercutio would seem incapable of loving anybody with the same dedication as Romeo.

Find text to back this up yourself.  Scan all of Mercutio's monologues and exchanges with Romeo.  Look for the word "love" to begin with, but also take note of his fun-loving yet fatalistic approach to all things.  Personally, I would begin with the "Queen Mab" monologue, beginning in Act 1, scene 4, line 53...

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