How does Shakespeare show pride and honour in the male characters of Romeo and Juliet?

Expert Answers
Tamara K. H. eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Shakespeare portrays pride in both a positive and negative light through his male characters in Romeo and Juliet.

Lord Capulet is one character who shows a great deal of positive pride in that he greatly respects himself, his rank, and feels badly about his actions. We see his remorse for his actions in the second scene. When speaking to Paris, he says, "'Tis not hard, I think, for men so old as we to keep the peace" (I.ii.2-3). Capulet directly refers to his age in these lines, inferring that both he and Lord Montague are old enough to be behaving better. But the term "old" can also refer to his noble rank and the age of his family. Not only is he a Lord, we learn from the Prologue that both the Capulet's and the Montagues are "ancient" families (3). Hence, this line shows us that Capulet takes great pride in his family and feels that they should be behaving better.

Both Mercutio and Romeo act with a great deal of negative pride when they challenge Tybalt. Mercutio challenges Tybalt for drawing his sword on Romeo when Tybalt was about to walk away. Mercutio's haughty pride made him feel that Romeo should not submit to Tybalt's harassment, but had he not challenged Tybalt and instead walked away from the fight, he would have remained alive. We know that Tybalt was walking away after Romeo refused to fight because Mercutio taunts, "Tybalt, you ratcatcher, will you walk?" Likewise, Tybalt runs from the scene after stabbing Mercutio but returns after he is dead. If Romeo had fled the scene as well during Tybalt's absence a great many lives would have been saved. But Romeo's own haughty pride leads him to revenge Mercutio's death.

Benvolio is one of the most honorable characters because he is the most peace loving. We see Benvolio break up the fight in the first scene, and we also see him beg Mercutio to go home instead of stay outside the day Mercutio is killed, saying,

I pray thee, good Mercutio, let's retire:
The day is hot, the Capulets abroad,
And, if we meet, we shall not scape a brawl. (III.i.1-3)

In other words, Benvolio is begging Mercutio to leave before they get into another fight with the Capulets. Hence, we see that due to his desires to maintain peace, Benvolio is one of the most honorable characters.

sojournero | Student


You should really reflect on this question.  Make sure that you understand the difference between pride and honor.  If one thinks about pride closely, there is a double meaning.  Pride can be a good thing or a bad one.  For example, often it is good to take pride in one's work.  However, it is a bad thing to become arrogant over one's accomplishments.  With Sampson and Gregory, in 1.1, they display pride about the house they serve but that pride turns to arrogance when the pick a fight with the servants from the house of Montague.

Friar Lawrence is another interesting character when it comes to pride.  He wants to end the feud but what decisions does he make to do so?  What does it cost him?

As for honor, Benvolio has to be the most honorable.  He tells the truth and he always tries to do the right thing.  He begs Mercutio to get off the street, but is ignored and Mercutios dies as a result.

Tybalt could be consider dishonorable because he is a hot head who wants to fight all the time.

Read the study guide:
Romeo and Juliet

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question