What are 6 important differences between Tybalt and Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Here are six differences between the characters of Tybalt and Mercutio in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet:

Tybalt is characterized as a fighter who feels hostility towards humanity in general; Mercutio is characterized as a volatile wit who feels hostility towards women.

Tybalt communicates his feelings of masculine aggression by fighting; Mercutio communicates his feelings of masculine aggression by fighting and by saying crude things about women and love affairs that take place between men and women.

Tybalt makes an impression on the audience via his tendency to get into fights; Mercutio makes an impression via his strong personality as well as the ease with which he is willing to fight.

Tybalt's personality is somewhat shallow and one-dimensional; Mercutio shows depth and wit, as well as a more complicated temperament that balances his aggressive side with a sense of humor.

Tybalt often speaks in rhyming couplets; Mercutio's speeches are longer and more complex.

Tybalt is able to kill Mercutio, applying his skill with his sword to fulfill his desire to show violence against those individuals affiliated with Romeo; Mercutio is unable to demonstrate adequate skill with the sword and dies at the hands of his enemy.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

For one, Tybalt is Juliet's cousin, and he hates Romeo and all the Montagues.  Mercutio is Romeo's best friend, though not a Montague.

Mercutio is related to Prince Escalus, which means he must be from a fairly powerful family, even more so than the Capulets and Montagues.

Tybalt is particularly violent, saying, in the first scene, that he hates even the word "peace"; Mercutio is essentially peace-loving, though he will employ violence in order to protect his own or his loved one's honor.

Mercutio is fairly intelligent, philosophizing about the nature of dreams and so forth, while Tybalt is really all about honor and strength and beating others. 

Mercutio also likes to make really juvenile jokes, they're pretty crude and lewd, but he does have a sense of humor.  Tybalt, not so much -- he really doesn't seem to have a sense of humor at all. 

Finally, Mercutio has friends.  He clearly hangs out with people whom he likes and who like him; Tybalt seems to inspire loyalty, but only, perhaps, out of fear.  He doesn't have any "friends," per se.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial