In "Romeo and Juliet" Act III Scene 1, why does Mercutio hide the fact that he is hurt after being stabbed by Tybalt?I'm doing a scene analysis for Act III scene 1, lines 70-90,

Expert Answers
sagesource eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Mercutio does not so much hide the fact that he is hurt as emphasize it through use of the rhetorical techniques of humor and meiosis or understatement. His repeated assertions of the wound being "enough" show that he is aware of its gravity, and not shy about letting the others know:

Ay, ay, a scratch, a scratch; marry, 'tis enough.--

No, 'tis not so deep as a well, nor so wide as a church door; but 'tis enough, 'twill serve: ask for me to-morrow, and you shall find me a grave man. I am peppered, I warrant, for this world.

One of the chief characteristics of Mercutio is his quick tongue and quick wit. He is here in a ridiculous and fatal situation, having been wounded to the death fighting for Romeo's honor when Romeo would not fight for it himself, and having received his wound due to Romeo's interference with his swordplay:

Why the devil came you between us? I was hurt under your arm.

In fact, Mercutio is furious, as shown by the way that he repeatedly curses both sides to the old family quarrel:

A plague o' both your houses!
They have made worms' meat of me:
I have it, and soundly too.--Your houses!

His endless joking and wordplay, up to almost his last breath, are his way of dealing with his rage and despair rather than a conscious effort to deceive those around him about the seriousness of the situation.

Read the study guide:
Romeo and Juliet

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question