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In Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, what is one analysis of Mercutio's speech to...

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chrisketavong | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted December 14, 2012 at 3:59 PM via web

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In Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, what is one analysis of Mercutio's speech to Benvolio that explores its context, imagery, contribution to the plot, character development, and themes?

Mercutio: 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: what 
    eye but such an eye would spy out such a quarrel? 
    Thy head is as full of quarrels as an egg is full of 
    meat, and yet thy head hath been beaten as addle as 
    an egg for quarrelling: thou hast quarrelled with a 
    man for coughing in the street, because he hath 
    wakened thy dog that hath lain asleep in the sun: 
    didst thou not fall out with a tailor for wearing 
    his new doublet before Easter? with another, for 
    tying his new shoes with old riband? and yet thou 
    wilt tutor me from quarrelling! (act 3 scene 1)

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tinicraw | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted December 14, 2012 at 6:50 PM (Answer #1)

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In Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, Mercutio represents comic relief and common sense in a story between two enraged and impulsive families. In his speech to Benvolio, (Act III, scene 1, 15-28), Mercutio exposes the problems of such feuding mentality, thereby forwarding the plot in preparation for the following street battle. The audience learns more about Mercutio's purpose as a neutral character while he compares Benvolio's temperament and attitude to scrambled eggs--they are weak and mixed up. Further, Mercutio gives examples of how silly the feuding mentality is by pointing out that Benvolio has become upset with people for making fashion mistakes, when in his view, they should know better. Those that should know better, Mercutio points out, are those who are in authority, such as a tailor. The argument is that Benvolio places himself above a tailor when that tailor wears an old shoe lace with new shoes. Thus, Benvolio judges authority at every little and insignificant practice; and, that is what causes much of the conflict between the two families. If Benvolio and others in the two families weren't so quick to judge and cause conflict over simple or minute things, there wouldn't be such a feud to worry about.

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