What character traits did Mercutio show during Romeo and Juliet? How did he exhibit them?
In Romeo and Juliet, one need look no further than Mercutio's name to uncover his traits and function in the play:
mercurial, an adjective meaning changeable; Mercury, the Roman messenger god and of eloquence; and mercury, the poisonous element.
Mercutio is a comic foil to Romeo in Acts I-III. His bawdy humor underscores the melodrama of the two lovers. Here's an example of his sexual innuendo:
Whereas Romeo is a melancholy Romantic regarding love, Mercutio is a skeptic realist and satirist when it comes to dreams and all things romantic. He makes fun or Romeo's lovesickness:
He is known for two famous monologues: his Queen Mab speech and his death scene, both of which are eerie foreshadowings of the tragedy to come. Indeed, Mercutio will be a martyr for the two families' hate. His playfulness will rile Tybalt, also his foil, into a duel where he is stabbed and dies. His famous "a plague upon your houses" foreshadows the tragedy to come.
Also, his death will incite a chain of events that leads to Romeo's exile and subsequent separation from his family, Mantua, and his new bride, Juliet.