How is Tybalt's character presented in Act I of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The character Tybalt has a name that connotes energy as a bolt of lightning may, an energy that is uncontrolled.  And, the first part of his name,Ty-, also suggests the word tyro, which denotes one lacking in experience. These connotations do seem to apply to the personnage that the audience encounters in Act I of Romeo and Juliet. In fact, it is Tybalt who sets the tone for the motif of violence and the theme of the impulsiveness of youth with his impetuous actions in the first scene.  For, when Benvolio encounters him and declares that he wishes to keep the peace, the fiery and fiercely loyal Tybalt retorts,

What, drawn, and talk of peace? I hate the word
As I hate hell, all Montagues, and thee.
Have at thee, coward! (1.1.65-67)

Later, in Scene 5, when Tybalt discovers Romeo at the masque in honor of Juliet on her birthday, he says,

Fetch me my rapier, boy. What, dares the slave
Come hither, cover'd with an antic face,
To fleer and scorn at our solemnity?
Now, by the stock and honour of my kin,
To strike him dead I hold it not a sin. (1.5.57-61)

displaying again his bellicose and irrationally impulsive nature, a nature that is, of itself, destructive.  Impetuous and importunely violent, Tybalt's character portends the violent love that Romeo and Juliet themselves will experience.

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