Act 3 Scene I of William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet
Before Act 3 scene i we know that there are two feuding families, the
Capulets and the Montagues. The audience has been told at the start
that to resolve this dispute their children, two innocent lovers, must
die. The Prince had explicitly told the family that if there is
another brawl their ‘lives shall pay the forfeit of the peace’. Romeo
a Montague went unwelcome to the Capulets’ ball. Tybalt, a nephew of
old Capulet noticed Romeo. He was angry with the order from old
Capulet to prevent him acting against his enemy, so sent a letter to
challenge Romeo to a duel. Romeo hasn’t yet read this letter; for he
was secretly marrying Juliet, the daughter of Capulet and the cousin
To demonstrate how this scene is exciting and dramatic, I will look
at the three main characters, Mercutio, Tybalt and Romeo.
One of the first characters the audience sees is Mercutio, Romeo’s
best friend. It is obvious to the audience that ‘this hot day’,
affects his behaviour. So he contributes to the tension in this scene.
Mercutio is warned by his friend Benvolio to leave because ‘the Capels
are abroad, And if we meet we shall not ‘scape a brawl’. Mercutio does
not accept this advice and insists on staying. This is an indication
that he is looking to engage in conflict. He may not want to leave
because he isn’t worried about the Capulets because he is not a
Montague. From the outset of the scene the anticipation of a fight
raises the tension.
Mercutio incites Benvolio and teases him light heartedly ‘thou art as
hot as a Jack’. The audience and Mercutio both know that Benvolio is
not such a character; though this provocative manner introduces the
audience to the style of the scene. Tybalt arrives and approaches
Mercutio. Mercutio almost instinctively acts aggressively but not
threateningly. He maintains a sort of comedy in his words. He
constantly twists and adds to what Tybalt says ‘Couple it with
something make it a word and a blow’. Here we can see that he is
trying to trigger Tybalt into fighting. Mercutio appears overly
annoyed with Tybalt. The audience assumes this is because Tybalt has
threatened his best friend and that it is the heat making him hot
tempered. It appears to the audience Mercutio is seeking an argument.
Mercutio is outraged at Romeo’s responses to Tybalt’s insults.
Mercutio calls Romeo ‘dishonourable’ because he is disgraced at
Romeo’s weak handling of the situation. Mercutio knows that as Romeo’s
best friend it is his duty to defend him now he is too feeble to
defend himself. Mercutio wants to reclaim his honour. He approaches
Tybalt and provokes him by saying he wants ‘nothing but one of your
nine lives’. Yet he is not being vicious. He still appears to be
punning and fighting with his words rather than...