In act 1, scene 1, Benvolio's instinct is to withdraw from a potentially eruptive confrontation with the volatile Tybalt. Benvolio is a generally reasonable character, wary and guarded by nature, hence the meaning of his name ("goodwill"). He is the admirable peacekeeper, or diplomatic figure, in the street brawl. It is not unreasonable, therefore, to conclude that he cannot fondly approve of his polar opposite, Tybalt. Tybalt's propensity to ignite a "motiveless" feud is clear in this scene as he implores Benvolio to "look upon thy death." His actions are not laudable, yet Benvolio is discreet in his response:
Put up thy sword,
Or manage it to part these men with me. (ll. 63–4)
Benvolio speaks in stiff imperatives. Thus, we have sound reason to sense his objection to the man who bitterly seeks his death. In effect, Shakespeare makes his audience aware of the visceral tension between the Montagues and Capulets through the foils Benvolio and Tybalt. Benvolio is, at last, induced to challenge (or defend himself from) his foe. The stage direction "[They fight]" evidently describes Benvolio's displeasure and Tybalt's excitable contempt.