In William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, how do Benvolio and Tybalt react when they encounter the servants fighting?
After a brief Prologue, William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet begins with Sampson and Gregory, two servants of the Capulet household, walking down the street. They encounter Abram, a servant of the Montague family, in their walk. Sampson makes a rude gesture at Abram, and the two sets of servants begin to quarrel. The argument between the servants illustrates the theme of the feud between the two houses described in the Prologue:
Two households, both alike in dignity,
In fair Verona, where we lay our scene,
From ancient grudge break to new mutiny...
Benvolio, a friend of Romeo and the Montague family, who is also walking down the street, tries to break up the fight and prevent it from escalating, but Tybalt, a Capulet, enters, and makes the situation worse by challenging Benvolio to a duel. Several citizens join the fray, and then Lord Capulet notices the fight and asks for his sword so he can join in, as does Lord Montague. Prince Escalus finally breaks up what has become close to a full-blown riot.