In Romeo and Juilet, can you help me find the tragic element Comic Relief tragic element Revenge Motive?

Expert Answers
shaketeach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

You will find what you are looking for in the character of Mercutio.

In Act I, scene 4 we meet Mercutio and quickly discover that he is the clown of the group.  He is not a Capulet or a Montegue but related to the Prince.

He seems to be Romeo's best friend and in I. 4, he trys to lighten the mood.  Romeo is still being self indulgent concerning his unrequited love for Rosalind.  The Queen Mab speech is full of sexual jokes and innuendos.  By the end of the scene, Romeo seems to be in a better humor.

The revenge motive can be found in Act III, scene 1.  The fight between Mercutio and Tybalt seems to be more in jest than "out to kill", yet Romeo, stepping between the two, inadvertently causes Mercutio's death.  When Tybalt returns, Romeo wants to avenge his friend's death and thus he kills Tybalt.

These are perhaps the best examples.

rmccombs87 | Student

Many of Shakespeare's tragedies include the use of comic relief in order to heighten the tension of the events which follow.  For instance, in Romeo and Juliet, the scene between Lord Capulet and the servant in Act IV, scene ii, in which Lord Capulet is requesting the hiring of cooks for Juliet's wedding feast is an example of comic relief.  The brief joking about not hiring a cook who refuses to lick his own fingers lightens the tense mood of the play. In the previous scene, Juliet had agreed, with the help of Friar Laurence, to fake her own death in order to avoid marrying Paris.  The lighter mood of happy wedding preparation at the Capulet house makes the discovery of Juliet's "dead" body all the more tragic.  Shakespeare deliberately uses a "rise and fall" of tension (like in a waltz) to create an emotional impact upon the audience during the tragic scenes.  This prevents the play from being consistently on one level throughout.  If the play was entirely tragedy, tragedy, tragedy without a break in tension, Shakespeare would most likely have lost his audience's attention.

As for the revenge motive, Romeo extracts revenge on Tybalt for the death of his friend, Mercutio in Act III, scene i.  However, this is not a plotted revenge; it is one of a passionate reaction.  Romeo does not think before acting, but killing Tybalt is most definitely revenge.

An example of plotted revenge was Tybalt's letter to Romeo, challenging him to a duel.  Tybalt felt insulted that Romeo and his friends had crashed the Capulet party the night before (Act I, scene v), and was even further humiliated by his uncle Lord Capulet who chided Tybalt for wanting to confront Romeo at all. The reader learns in Act III, scene i that Tybalt has sent a letter to the Montague house to challenge Romeo for that insult.  This act of revenge backfired when Romeo refused to fight, and then Mercutio drew his sword and attacked Tyblat instead.


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Romeo and Juliet

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