What does Romeo mean when he says that he loves Tybalt in Romeo and Juliet?

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D. Reynolds eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Tybalt has been spoiling for a fight with Romeo, especially since seeing him flirting with Juliet, Tybalt's cousin. Tybalt dislikes the Montagues intensely and wants to defend Juliet against a lovelorn specimen like Romeo. Romeo, having already stormed the Capulet citadel, and having, unbeknownst to Tybalt or any other Capulet, married Juliet, very much wants to avoid a quarrel.

Tybalt is now no longer Romeo's enemy, but his cousin. When Romeo says he loves Tybalt, stating "I . . . love thee better than thou canst devise [imagine]," he means he loves Tybalt as a relative because he has married Juliet. Romeo also says he loves Tybalt to try to convince him that he really doesn't want a fight: if you love a person you don't want...

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