Why is Tybalt in the play Romeo and Juliet?

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In the play, Romeo and Juliet, the character of Tybalt serves a few significant purposes. First, he acts as a foil to Benvolio at the outset, by saying these words:

" What, art thou drawn among these heartless hinds? Turn thee Benvolio, look upon thy death" (Act 1 Scene 1, lines 57 - 58)

While Benvolio is the peacekeeper of the Montague family, Tybalt is the fiery tempered, fight-loving instigator of the Capulets and it is, in part, his petulant behavior and attitude that moves the action of the play towards its eventual tragedy.

Later on in the play, in Act 3 scene 1, Tybalt insults Romeo by calling him a villain. Romeo, who has just hours before secretly married Juliet, replies, “I do protest I never injured thee, But love thee better than thou canst devise.” Mercutio steps in to defend Romeo’s honor and returns Tybalt’s insult by calling him “Good King of Cats.” Mercutio draws his sword, then he and Tybalt fight. After Mercutio dies during the fight, Romeo is finally drawn into it and ends up killing Tybalt in return. This action sends Romeo into banishment from Verona and from Juliet. It is Tybalt's character that serves as the catalyst for the events that will lead to the tragic deaths of the two lovers.


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