In Act 1, scene 5 of Romeo and Juliet, is Tybalt justified in his attitude to Romeo?

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It is easy for modern audiences to judge Tybalt and simply dismiss his negative attitude towards Romeo as being unnecessary and unwarranted. However, one could argue that this assessment of Tybalt is unfair and lacks nuance. Tybalt's behavior aligns with the social norms of his day regarding masculinity, familial loyalty, and honor. He is the inheritor of an ugly, destructive family feud that has been passed down through generations and has recently participated in a brawl involving the Montagues.

In addition to his recent negative interactions with the Montagues, he is inherently an aggressive, hostile individual who is a skilled swordsman. One could argue that is only natural for Tybalt to react with animosity towards a sworn family enemy who has infiltrated his uncle's ball. It is important to remember that Tybalt has only overheard Romeo's voice and is not aware of his intentions. Tybalt simply recognizes that a Montague has trespassed onto his uncle's estate and is justified in believing that Romeo has negative intentions. Therefore, it would be unfair to neglect Tybalt's past experiences, heated emotions, and lack of knowledge regarding Romeo's intentions, which is why one could argue that his negative feelings towards Romeo are justified.

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Tybalt is not justified in his attitude towards Romeo even though there have been prior tensions between the two. This is Lord Capulet's house, and it is Lord Capulet's party. Tybalt has no right to cause an uproar and disrespect his uncle's hospitality. Lord Capulet even tells Tybalt this. In addition, Romeo has clearly not come to the party to cause trouble. If so, he would have already called Tybalt out. Clearly the angry dishonorable attitude which Tybalt attributes to Romeo is present in Tybalt himself.

Enotes has some great information at the following link.

http://www.enotes.com/romeo-and-juliet

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