Why Tybalt is angry at Romeo in Williams Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet?

Expert Answers
kipling2448 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The reason for Tybalt's hatred of Romeo is actually quite elementary. William Shakespeare's The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet is about two young lovers desperate to be together but ultimately undone by the bitter, ancient feud that divides their families. Romeo is a Montague; Juliet is a Capulet. These two prominent families have maintained this violent feud for so long that the contemporary principals of each family no longer really know why the feud exists. Indeed, Lords Montague and Capulet seem to have mellowed somewhat by the time the story takes place. With respect to Tybalt, however, all that matters is that the Montagues and Capulets despise each other, and Tybalt is a Capulet. Note in the following passage from Act I, Scene I of Shakespeare's play Tybalt's ingrained hostility towards anything or anyone associated with the Montague clan:

TYBALT What, art thou drawn among these heartless hinds?
Turn thee, Benvolio, look upon thy death.

BENVOLIO I do but keep the peace: put up thy sword, Or manage it to part these men with me.

TYBALT What, drawn, and talk of peace! I hate the word,
As I hate hell, all Montagues, and thee:

The reason for Tybalt's hatred of Romeo runs no deeper than the fact of the long-running feud. Tybalt's antipathy towards Romeo, as well as towards all Montagues, is pervasive throughout the play. Again, in Act I, Scene V, Romeo, having sneaked into the Capulet's ball, is unmasked and confronted by Tybalt. Responding to Lord Capulet's suggestion that the interloper be left alone, Capulet having spoken highly of Romeo ("Verona brags of him; To be a virtuous and well-govern’d youth"), the patriarch's brash and violent nephew states instead, "Uncle, this is a Montague, our foe, A villain that is hither come in spite,To scorn at our solemnity this night." 

William Delaney eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Tybalt is just a young man like Romeo, but he has a belligerent disposition and an inflated opinion of his importance in the Capulet family. He is angry at Romeo for at least two reasons. The first one is that he feels personally offended by the way Romeo and his friends crashed the big Capulet party. Going back to the party in Act 1, Scene 3, Tybalt is threatening violence right there in the midst of the festivities when he is severely reprimanded and humiliated by his uncle Lord Capulet, who calls him "goodman boy" and "a saucy boy." The second reason why Tybalt is so angry at Romeo is that he is still stinging from the rebuke he received from his uncle. He blames Romeo for this tongue-lashing as well. This may be irrational, but it is not atypical of human nature.



Read the study guide:
Romeo and Juliet

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question