When Mercutio learns that Tybalt has sent a letter to Romeo's house—likely a challenge to fight, because Romeo went to the Capulet's party the night before—he describes Tybalt's particular style of fighting, saying,
He fights as you sing prick-song, keeps time, distance, and proportion. He rests his minim rests—one, two, and the third in your bosom. The very butcher of a silk button, a duelist, a duelist, a gentleman of the very first house of the first and second cause. Ah, the immortal passado, the punto reverso, the hai!
In other words, Mercutio believes that Tybalt fights like one might sing if one were performing, paying attention to elements like timing and distance and proportion and all other formal concerns. He breaks when he ought to and he kills by the book. He is precise—can hit a small mark, like a button, with his weapon—and he is a master duelist. He has been taught how to be a very fine fencer, and he knows all the necessary moves to make his kill: the forward thrust,...
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