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In Romeo and Juliet, Queen Mab is the fairy's midwife. As Romeo, Mercutio, and Benvolio walk to the Capulet's masquerade party, Mercutio weaves a long tale about this fanciful, mythic figure. (You can learn more about her in Act I, scene iv.)

Mercutio talks about Mab because Romeo's asserts that he had a dream and that dreams tell truths. Mercutio responds that dreams lie and that Queen Mab uses them to spread mischief.

Queen Mab is so tiny that her wagon is driven by a gnat, and the spokes in the wagon wheels are made of spider's legs. She drives her wagon across people's faces as they sleep. She leads various people to dream of the base desire of their hearts. Mercutio paints her as a distasteful figure.

Romeo interrupts Mercutio to tell him he talks of nothing. Mercutio responds that is what dreams are: nothing. Nevertheless, Romeo has a feeling of foreboding as they near the party.

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Queen Mab is a tiny fairy who enters the heads of dreamers and makes them believe that they have come up with ideas of their own so that they are justified in their cupidity. Mercutio's monologue plays upon the fancy of this little fairy as he cynically jests about Romeo's having fallen in love with Juliet.

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It's not clear where Shakespeare got the idea for Queen Mab -- it may have been a Celtic goddess named Madb in Ireland and Mabb in Wales.  

Mercutio describes Queen Mab as a tiny fairy who visits people as they sleep and gives them dreams.  The dreams are of what the person would wish for, and his description suggests that these things are usually vices -- like violence, greed or lust.

In the play, Mercutio refers to Queen Mab to tell Romeo that his dreams of love are basically nonsense.

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