In Act 2, Scene 4 of "Romeo and Juliet," what change in Romeo's behavior does Mercutio comment on?

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dymatsuoka | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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In Act II, Scene iv, Mercutio comments on Romeo's improved demeanor.  Before, Romeo had been depressed and moping around because the object of his affections, Rosaline, did not return his love.  Now that he has met Juliet he is light-hearted and joking once again.  Mercutio says,

"Why, is not this better now than groaning for love?  Now art thou sociable, now are thou Romeo..." (lines 87-89).

Ironically, just a few lines before, at the beginning of the scene, Mercutio had been talking with Benvolio about how Romeo, who has received a challenge from Tybalt, has been so melancholy and morbid.  He describes Romeo as

"...already dead, stabbed with a white wnech's black eye, run through the ear with a love song..." (lines 13-15).

Romeo had been so distressed previously because of Rosaline, that Mercutio and Benvolio were wondering whether he still retained enough spirit to meet Tybalt's challenge.

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