Romeo and Juliet Questions and Answers
by William Shakespeare

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In Romeo and Juliet, what does Mercutio’s Queen Mab speech reveal about his personality?  What do you think of Mercutio as a friend?

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Wallace Field eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Certainly, the Queen Mab speech seems to reveal Mercutio's imaginative powers. He is clever and creative and dramatic. Romeo tells Mercutio that he had a dream which made him feel as though it would be a mistake for Romeo to go to the Capulets' party tonight, and Mercutio launches into the Queen Mab speech, I think, to show Romeo how ridiculous it is to plan one's life based on the dreams one has while asleep. He describes dreams as the "children of an idle brain" (1.4.104). They are empty fantasy and nothing more. While Romeo believes in fate, especially as he prophetically describes the likely consequences of "this night's revels," Mercutio does not seem too concerned.

On the one hand, Mercutio does try to comfort his friend, Romeo, and help him feel better when Rosaline refuses him. He pushes Romeo to go to the party because he believes that it will be really fun and will help distract Romeo from his upset. However, on the other hand, Mercutio is not a very good listener. He does not take Romeo's feelings very seriously now, or even later when Romeo comes between Mercutio and Tybalt. Mercutio tries to rescue Romeo's honor when Tybalt challenges him, but a better friend might care more about what Romeo actually wants. It's telling that Romeo doesn't even let his best friend in on his new feelings for Juliet; perhaps he anticipates being shamed or mocked for them.

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Noelle Thompson eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Mercutio is quite the character:  a free spirit and a true friend.  Mercutio always makes me laugh with his desperate attempts to snap Romeo out of his lovesickness.  Mercutio's very first line in the fourth scene speaks volumes:  "Nay, gentle Romeo, we must have you dance."  In other words, "Come ON, friend, have a little bit of FUN!"  And all of Mercutio's further words in this scene are all attempting the same thing, including the Queen Mab speech.  It's silly.  It's crazy.  It's meant to make Romeo smile, at the very least.  Romeo finally just gets sick of it.  Romeo, you see, is the definition of a melancholy lover (not a free spirit in the least).  Mercutio can be played in such a variety of ways that it is one of the most enjoyable parts of the play to see how Mercutio will come out this time.  Will he be the trusted and true, serious friend?  Or perhaps the drag-queen free spirit?  Or even the scorned lover who Romeo has turned down for women?  One can only guess!

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