In Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, what does Benvolio come to represent?

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Tamara K. H. eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Benvolio's character often represents both the voice of reason and the voice of blame. We see Benvolio act as the voice of reason in that he tries to pacify situations and also tries to counsel both Romeo and Mercutio. We see Benvolio try to pacify the fight in the first scene by trying to break up the fight between the two household's servants. We see him try to counsel Romeo by advising him to forget about Rosaline in the line, "Be rul'd by me: forget to think of her" (I.i.227). We see him counsel Mercutio by begging him to get off the street the day Mercutio is killed arguing,

Let's retire:
The day is hot, the Capulets abroad,
And, if we meet, we shall not scape a brawl." (III.i.1-3)

Beyond being the voice of reason that none of the other characters listen to, he is also the voice that frequently lays blame where it needs to be laid. When the Prince asks for an explanation as to who started the fight in the opening scene, it is Benvolio who responds by describing the servants as being involved in the fight first, whom he tried to separate. He also describes Tybalt as attacking him, saying,"In the instant came / The fiery Tybalt, with his sword prepar'd" (104-105). Benvolio's account of the fight is completely accurate and honest and lays blame where it needs to be laid. Benvolio gives a similar speech to the Prince to account for both Mercutio's and Tybalt's deaths in Act 3, Scene 1, showing us once again that Benvolio also represents the voice of blame.