What are 3 character traits of Mercutio and give quotes to illustrate them.
William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet
Mercutio is, like Shakespeare himself, an irrepressible wordsmith with an imaginative flair. As they are walking to the Capulet's party, he tries to cheer up the mooning Romeo by evoking the story of the tiny Queen Mab and the dreams she brings to people. Of course, dreams and love are connected in a larger sense, as the beloved is always idealized, and Mercutio's speech about dreams as being more inconstant than the wind (which always changes direction), foreshadows the sudden change Romeo's love will take at the party:
True, I talk of dreams,
Which are the children of an idle brain,
Begot of nothing but vain fantasy,
Which is as thin of substance as the air
And more inconstant than the wind...
As a foil to Romeo, Mercutio takes a darker, more pragmatic view of love:
If love be rough with you, be rough with love.
Prick love for pricking, and you beat love down
He's also mercurial or emotional, as his name implies, and can't leave Juliet's nurse be, pushing her into a rage by his joking wordplay suggesting she is a prostitute. He also can't resist a fight with Tybalt, leading to his own death. But even as he knows he is dying, he shows his courage, as he jokes and puns. Romeo tries to comfort him, saying his wound his not so bad. He responds:
No, 'tis not so deep as a well, nor so wide as a church-door; but 'tis enough, 'twill serve. Ask for me tomorrow, and you shall find me a grave man.
Grave, of course, is a pun on being serious, which Mercutio never is, and on being in the grave, or dead. Here, Mercutio indicates how great a change death will bring by saying it will render him grave, which of course it eventually will (he won't be joking anymore).
1. In Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, Mercutio, like the Nurse, is long-winded. His most verbose speech is his monologue in which he describes Queen Mab in a light-hearted manner that contrasts to Romeo's heavy use of oxymorons as he speaks of Rosalind in his gloomy love-sickness, and his emotionally charged romantic lines about Juliet. As Mercutio rambles on, Romeo stops him, saying,
Peace, peace, mercutio, peace!
Thou talk'st of nothing.
(Mercutio's monologue is in Act I, scene 4, ll.58-100)
2. This speech by Mercutio is a testimony to his eloquence, as well. For example, his description of Queen Mab is one of vivid and moving expression:
She is the fairies' midwife, and she comes/In shape no bigger than an agate stone/....Her wagon spokes made of long spinners' legs,/The cover, of the wings of grasshoppers;/Her traces, of the smallest spider's web;/Her collars, of the moonshine's wat'ry beams;/Her whip, of cricket's bone; the lash of film;/Her wagoner, a small grey-coated gnat,/Not half so big as a round little worm...(I, iv,58-70)
3. Also, like his name, Mercutio is mercurial since, at the beginning of Act III, it is he who ridicules Benvolio for saying they need to retire because of the heat, but then himself becoming heated over trivial matters when Mercutio is the very one who changes moods and becomes involved in heated conflict with Tybalt over Romeo's honor, a conflict that proves fatal:
Thou art like one of these fellows that, when he enters the confines of a tavern, claps me his sword upon the table and says 'God send me no need of thee!' and by the operation of the second cup draws him on the drawer, when indeed there is not need (III,i,5-10)
To me, the main three character traits that Mercutio has are these:
- He is really a pretty funny guy. He likes to make jokes and he really likes to make sexual references.
- He has a very quick temper. He seems like he is often pretty ready to fight.
- He has an angry streak in him.
Here are some quotes that should show each of these character traits:
For an example of how he likes to be funny, look at what he says about Romeo in Act II, Scene 1:
Nay, I'll conjure too.
Romeo! humours! madman! passion! lover!
Appear thou in the likeness of a sigh:
Speak but one rhyme, and I am satisfied;
Cry but 'Ay me!' pronounce but 'love' and 'dove;'
For his temper, look what he says to Tybalt when Tybalt asks if he can have a word with Mercutio:
Finally, for his anger, look at how many times he curses both the Capulets and the Montagues as he dies.