What quote from Romeo's best friend, Mercutio, would best sum up his cynical opinion of love?

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noahvox2's profile pic

noahvox2 | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

Posted on

One of the more delightful characters in Shakespeare's otherwise tragic Romeo and Juliet is Mercutio, who is one of Romeo's friends. His name recalls the Roman god Mercury. Like Mercury, the messenger of the gods, Mercutio has lots to say, especially on the topic of love. Also, like the word "mercurial," derived from the name of the god, Mercutio has a quick-witted tongue.

We first meet Mercutio in Act 1, Scene 4, where we hear Romeo confess to Mercutio that he is sinking "Under love's heavy burden." Romeo also complains that love "is too rough" and that "it pricks like a thorn." While I'm not sure whether Mercutio's response to this sums up his cynical view of love, I can't help but be amused by his answer to Romeo's complaint:

If love be rough with you, be rough with love;

Prick love for pricking, and you beat love down.

In addition to Mercutio's combative attitude towards love in this scene, in Act 2, Scene 4, when Benvolio and Mercutio discuss the challenge that Tybalt has issued to Romeo, Mercutio quips that Rome's love for Rosaline has already killed him. This comment also seems quite cynical:

Alas poor Romeo! he is already dead; stabbed with a
white wench's black eye; shot through the ear with a
love-song; the very pin of his heart cleft with the
blind bow-boy's butt-shaft:

If love has the ability to kill a person even before he is actually dead, I would certainly regard that as cynical. Still, I think the first quotation I mentioned provides more of a summary.

bonnieperlman's profile pic

bonnieperlman | eNotes Newbie

Posted on

I agree ! Although your second answer truly highlight's Benvolio's cynical view of love by announcing his friend's death merly for being in love. I agree that the your first example summarizes it better

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