Romeo and Juliet Questions and Answers
by William Shakespeare

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In Romeo and Juliet, what is Mercutio's attitude toward love? How do you know?

In Romeo and Juliet, Mercutio's attitude toward love is cynical. We know this because he puts down the idea of romantic love in conversations with Romeo in act 1, scene 4 and act 2, scene 4. He advises Romeo to be "rough" with love.

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Mercutio takes a very cynical attitude toward love. We know this because of his conversations with Romeo on the subject. For example, on the way to the Capulet's masquerade party in act 1, scene 4, he spars verbally with Romeo about romance. When Romeo insists he is too unhappy over Rosaline to dance at the party, Mercutio advises him to be "rough" with love, saying,

If love be rough with you, be rough with love.
Prick love for pricking, and you beat love down.
He also tells a fanciful story about Queen Mab, a tiny fairy hag who raises lust in people:
This is the hag, when maids lie on their backs,
That presses them and learns them first to bear.
Cynical Mercutio also pooh-poohs the idea that Romeo's dream of foreboding, which is making him uneasy about the party, means anything. In love and otherwise, he wants Romeo to get his head out of the clouds and stop being so dreamy.
Mercutio again shows his cynicism about love when he meets up with Romeo in act 2, scene 4. It is the morning after the...

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