What happens in Act 3, Scene 1 of Romeo and Juliet?

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Stephanie Gregg eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Keep in mind when considering this scene that Romeo and Juliet are already secretly married.  Also remember that Mercutio is Romeo's closest friend, and watching him be killed incited Romeo in a way that even Romeo did not expect.  Until now, he has been melancholy and depressed around his friends--a portrait of passivity until Tybalt harms Mercutio. 

Also remember that Tybalt is Juliet's cousin.  After Romeo's moment of passionate fury is over, he realizes that he has, in fact, killed a member of his new wife's family--a family that already despises him based merely upon his name.  This scene sets up Romeo's banishment, which in turn sets up the desperate measures that the two main characters take which lead to the climax of the play.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Act III, Scene 1 of Romeo and Juliet is one of the most important scenes in the play.  The events of this scene are pivotal in determining the overall course of the play.

The major action of this scene is a fight between Romeo, his friends Benvolio and Mercutio and some Capulets, let by Tybalt.  Tybalt insults Romeo whereupon he and Mercutio fight.  He kills Mercutio.  Romeo then kills Tybalt.  For this, he is exiled from the city by the Prince and told that if he returns he will be subject to execution.

orlamcg | Student

The play that I have studied is Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare. Act three, scene one, the climax of this play, is a scene where much conflict occurs.

This scene opens with two of Romeo's friends, Benvolio and Mercutio, talking. Tension and suspense is established when Benvolio says,

'The day is hot, the Capulets abroad,

And, if we meet, we shall not 'scape a brawl'

The 'fiery Tybalt' enters looking for Romeo. He felt that Romeo had insulted him by going to the Capulet masked ball and he wanted to exact his revenge.

Mercutio deliberately insults him and draws his sword. Just as Benvolio tries to calm them down, Romeo enters. Tybalt tries to incite Romeo into fighting by insulting him: 'Romeo, the love I bear thee can afford/ No better term than this, – thou art a villain.'

Romeo resists Tybalt's challenge because he is now related by marriage to him. Mercutio is embarrassed by Romeo's inaction and he challenges Tybalt. As Romeo tries to stop the fight Mercutio is mortally wounded by Tybalt.

As Mercutio dies he says, 'A plague o' both your houses! / They have made worms' meet of me.' Romeo realises he is partially responsible for his friend's death and his anger leads him to kill Tybalt. He then realises he is 'fortune's fool' and flees the place.

The Prince of Verona arrives and decides to exile Romeo from the city.

(b) What are the underlying causes of conflict in this scene?

The main cause of the conflict in this scene arises 'From ancient grudge' between two major families in Verona – the Capulets and the Montagues. The feud is so strong that the play opens with their servants fighting. Indeed, the rift is so strong that the Prince of Verona is prompted to announce, 'If ever you disturb our streets again/ Your lives will pay the forfeit of the peace.'

Another cause of the conflict is the mercurial nature of Tybalt. He saw Romeo's appearance at the Capulet masked ball as an insult and was determined to challenge Romeo.

Mercutio also contributed to the conflict. He was very quick to engage in a quarrel with Tybalt and condemned Romeo for avoiding conflict, 'O calm, dishonourable, vile submission!'

Finally Romeo has much internal conflict in this scene. He is being challenged and insulted by Tybalt but feels he cannot retaliate because he is now secretly married to Juliet, Tybalt's cousin.

It is clear there is much conflict in this scene and many reasons for it – this conflict adds greatly to our enjoyment of the play.