In Act I, Scene 1, Benvolio and Tybalt both come upon servants fighting in a street of Verona. Contrast their reactions to the fight. 

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Act II, in her famous soliloquy Juliet ponders,

'Tis but thy name that is my enemy;
Thou art thyself
What's in a name?....

But, in verity, there is much in the names of Benvolio, whose name derives from the Latin root -bene- meaning "good," and Tybalt, whose connotative meaning suggests lightning bolt and tyro. In Act I, Scene 1, in contradiction of Juliet's words, there is, indeed, much in a name. For, when he hears the servants arguing and fighting in the Verona street, Benvolio attempts to diffuse the conflict:

Part, fools!
Put up your swords; you know not what you do. (1.1.54-55)

Then, when the pugnacious Tybalt enters, wielding his sword, immediately challenging Benvolio, "Turn thee, Benvolio, look upon thy death" Benvolio calmly replies, 

I do but keep the peace? put up thy sword.
Or manage it to part these men with me. (1.1.67-68)

Insistent that they duel, Tybalt again challenges Benevolio and repudiates any idea of peace, saying

....I hate the word,
As I hate hell, all Montagues, and thee:
Have at thee, coward! 

Soon thereafter, an agitated Lord Montague enters, Benevolio essays to calm him with a calm, rational, and blameless assessment of the situation. He omits the words of Tybalt and mitigates the confrontation with Tybalt by telling his uncle that there was a scuffle, but they were only exchanging "thrusts and blows" before the Prince arrived. Clearly foils, Benevolio wishes to maintain peace, but Tybalt has done everything but declare war.

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Romeo and Juliet

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