How are Benvolio and Mercutio similar in Romeo and Juliet?

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Benvolio and Tybalt are foils of each other. Both represent a different aspect of Romeo's character. Benvolio is the peace-maker and Tybalt is the hot-head.

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Benvolio is considered to be more of a dramatic foil to Mercutio. A dramatic foil is a character that brings out the exact opposite character traits of a second character, thereby emphasizing those traits. Benvolio is Mercutio's dramatic foil because while Mercutio is extremely hotheaded, impetuous, and rash, Benvolio is one of the most calm, rational characters of the play; he is even one of the play's peacekeepers. However, while they are for the most part opposite characters, they do share the similarity of both being genuinely friends with and caring for Romeo.

We especially see their mutual friendship with Romeo in the fourth scene in Act 1 in which they try to persuade Romeo to join them in crashing the ball. While Mercutio acts more playfully, treating Romeo's heartache as a joke and Benvolio is more serious, both seem genuinely concerned about their friend's emotional state and want to see him set aside his feelings of pining for Rosaline. We especially see Mercutio's concern for Romeo's well-being when Romeo says that he is feeling too heavy to go dancing at a party and Mercutio replies, "Nay, gentle Romeo, we must have you dance" (I.iv.14). We also see Mercutio taking Romeo's feelings more lightly than Benvolio, treating them as a joke, when he tells Romeo to be rough with love and to "prick love for pricking," both of which statements can be viewed as sexual innuendos (28-29). In contrast, Benvolio acts more seriously in this scene, each line encouraging Romeo to give in and join them at the Capulets'. Prior to this scene, we see Benvolio genuinely acting concerned for Romeo's welfare, even begging him to forget about Rosaline. In addition, crashing the ball along with Mercutio, who was invited as relation of Capulet's, was Benvolio's idea as he thought it would give Romeo a chance to compare Rosaline to other beautiful women, thus distracting him from her.

Hence, while Mercutio and Benvolio are generally considered opposites, they do share friendship with Romeo in common, and genuine concern for his emotional state. 

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What qualities do Mercutio and Benvolio share?

Benvolio and Mercutio are both very loyal to Romeo and the Montagues. Although Benvolio is Romeo's cousin, both he and Mercutio are best friends and confidants to Romeo. Throughout Act I, they both worry about Romeo's melancholy regarding Rosaline. In Act II, they are concerned when Romeo goes off to profess his love to Rosaline.

They are both also involved in the feud between the Montagues and Capulets, even though Mercutio is not part of either family (he is in fact related to the Prince). Mercutio and Benvolio are both negatively affected by the feud and it even takes Mercutio's life in Act III.

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How are Benvolio and Tybalt alike?

In Romeo and Juliet, Benvolio and Tybalt are foils.

Benvolio is a peace-maker, one who tries to part the two families as they brawl in the streets of Verona.  Tybalt, on the other hand, is an instigator and a hot-head; he starts much of the fighting.  The two have a brief exchange in Act I:

Benvolio says:

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

Tybalt responds:

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

Both are also foils of Romeo. Romeo will play both roles in Act III.  Now that he is married to a Capulet, Romeo will play the part of Benvolio as peace-maker and try to part Mercutio and Tybalt.  But, after Tybalt kills Mercutio, Romeo will become a hot-head like Tybalt, demanding vengeance.

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