What Kind Of Person Is Mercutio

What kind of person is Mercutio?

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Mercutio is often considered a comic foil. (A foil is a character who by strong contract underscores or enhances the distinctive qualities of another character.) To his friend Romeo, Mercutio commands attention when he speaks, but comes across as likable during his witty and light-hearted banter with Romeo; however, there is another side to his character. Mercutio’s name is related to words such as mercurial, which means changeable, and mercury, a poisonous element; these words also represent another view of Mercutio’s personality: volatile and explosive.
He has a teasing quick wit and is swift to make bawdy, raucous and inappropriate comments, such as his teasing of Romeo to improve his mood when he is love struck by Rosaline and again in his conversation with the nurse who is looking for Romeo. It is his volatile nature, however, that proves to be deadly not only to himself but eventually to others in the fatal marketplace scene. In an instant he moves from joking with Benvolio to fatally quarreling. He finds himself so severely disappointed by what he views as Romeo’s cowardice in refusing to meet Tybalt’s challenge that he jumps in to meet it himself only to be mortally wounded when Tybalt takes unfair advantage of Romeo’s well-intentioned interference. On the verge of dying, Mercutio venomously wishes a plague on the houses of both the Montagues and the Capulets ,revealing the extent of his bitterness through the repetition of this curse not once but three times.

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Mercutio is a class clown. He will mock Romeo's views on love and do anything to make people laugh. Think of him as a Benvolio without a filter for his words. If you take a look at the Queen Mab speech in act one scene four, he is mocking Romeo's dream by saying a little fairy is responsible for dreams and that they don't mean anything.

He is a word master as well. He is the source of many puns in the play and is not afaid to use them. Romeo remarks to the nurse that Mercutio "A gentleman, nurse, that loves to hear himself talk; and will speak more in a minute than he will stand to in a month" (act II, scene iv, 140-42).

With a personality like this, it no wonder that his friends thought he was acting as he realized the seriousness of his wound from the fight in act three scene one. As he is dying, he uses another pun. He tells the group that if they "ask for me to-morrow, and you shall find me a grave man" (act III, scene i, 96-97). He needs to have the last word to point out to us the fact that it is the feud between the Montague and Capulet that have killed him.

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