What personality traits of the main characters are introduced in Act 1, Scene 1 of Romeo and Juliet?
The important people introduced in scene 1 are Tybalt, Benvolio, Capulet, Montague, and Romeo.
Tybalt is important because he is Juliet’s cousin, and because fighting with him and killing him is what caused Romeo’s banishment. Tybalt is “saucy” and has a temper. He takes the feud very seriously. When Benvolio says he does not want to fight him, he responds with anger.
What, drawn, and talk of peace? I hate the word(65)
As I hate hell, all Montagues, and thee.
Have at thee, coward! (Act 1, Scene 1, p. 12)
Tybalt’s personality is representative of the young people who carry on the feud beyond all reason.
Benvolio is Romeo’s friend. In contrast to Tybalt, Benvolio tries to avoid trouble rather than starting it. When he comes upon the dueling servants, he immediately tries to break it up.
Put up your swords. You know not what you do. (Act 1, Scene 1, p. 12)
Throughout the play, Benvolio is the voice of reason. He tries to calm Romeo and point him in the right direction. He represents the people who are attempting to end the madness of the feud.
Capulet and Montague, the heads of the feuding households, are also present, along with their lives. Capulet immediately asks for a sword, which his wife protests.
My sword, I say! Old Montague is come
And flourishes his blade in spite of me. (Act 1, Scene 1, p. 12)
They have been feuding their whole lives. Although his wife seems to think that the feud is terrible, he is ready to jump in as a matter of pride.
Montague seems to think differently. Just as Tybalt and Capulet both have tempers, Benvolio and Montague seem to want to end the feud, or at least not get involved.
Who set this ancient quarrel new abroach?(100)
Speak, nephew, were you by when it began? (Act 1, Scene 1, p. 13)
Montague and Benvolio then turn the conversation to Romeo, who has been sulking lately. Montague asks Benvolio to talk to his son, and see what is wrong. Benvolio speaks with Romeo, a brooding young man who has recently been dumped by his girlfriend.
She is too fair, too wise, wisely too fair,
To merit bliss by making me despair.
She hath forsworn to love, and in that vow(225)
Do I live dead that live to tell it now. (Act 1, Scene 1, p. 17)
Romeo shows himself as poetic, but somewhat whiney. He is sad, as most boys would be, but he does not respond well to Benvolio’s prodding. Nothing his friend can say will make him feel better.