"A Plague On Both Your Houses"
Context: The time is the day after the masked ball at which Romeo met and fell in love with Juliet. Mercutio and Benvolio, friends of Romeo, have this morning found Romeo, and have teased him about his whereabouts on the night before. Further, Romeo has been sought out by Juliet's nurse and has appointed his meeting place with her. Benvolio is a quiet-tempered and benevolent man. Mercutio is quick tempered and changeable–mercurial. Now they are walking on the street. Benvolio says that the day is hot and they should retire because if they meet the Capulets they "shall not 'scape a brawl." Mercutio, however, will not go away. The Capulets approach. A fight is being provoked. Romeo enters and tries to stop it. But Tybalt, the Capulet who is determined to fight, and Mercutio draw. They fight, and Mercutio is struck down. Three times he curses the houses of Montague and Capulet, in one of Shakespeare's fine condemnations of this feuding. To Romeo's comment that the wound "cannot be much," Mercutio replies:
MERCUTIONo '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. A plague a both your houses! . . .