Although the story of Romeo and Juliet does not focus on Mercutio, to many, he is one of the most interesting characters in literature. His name puns on the word mercurial which means unpredictably changeable. His unsteady behavior makes him wise beyond his intentions. A recurring trend in Shakespeare’s plays is the existence of a witty fool and many foolish wits. People such as Romeo, Friar Laurence, and Capulet are people who are made out to be wise, but, in the end, they make all the wrong decisions. Mercutio serves as a foil to all these characters.
He is considered by every character in the play to be a fool, but, in the long run, he is the one who is the wisest. He brings a sense of comic relief as well as a reality check to many of the character’s in the play. Although he can be seen as a laughable youth, his character serves to show how many of the so-called wiser characters are actually fools. The audience is first introduced to Mercutio in Act one, Scene two . Romeo speaks of having a dream and believing it to be true.
This leads Mercutio to his famous Queen Mab speech. When he breaks down after his speech, Romeo states, “Thou Talk’st of nothing I. v. 96. ” Mercutio responds with his first wise quote, “True, I talk of dreams, Which are the children of an idle brain I. iv. 97-98. ” This comment does not refer to Romeo’s dream of love alone. Friar Laurence’s dream of peace in Verona proves false. In Act two, Scene four ,when the nurse appears in her gaudy attire acting as if she is the owner of the Capulet’s servant Peter, it is Mercutio that churlishly reminds her that she is of the servant class as well. Mercutio’s comment provides an alternative view of reality in the play. A view that is one of common sense, not impetuosity.
Every character in this play has been blinded by a curtain of phantasm except Mercutio . In Act two, Scene one, after Mercutio realizes Romeo does not want to be found by him, Mercutio mocks Romeo’s feelings for Rosaline. He suggests that Romeo is shallow and that he is in love with Rosaline’s good looks and shapely body. Romeo quickly denies Mercutio’s accusation in the beginning of Act two, Scene 2, “He jests scars that never felt a wound II. ii. 1. ” Even Friar Laurence realizes Romeo’s shallowness when he hears Romeo has forgotten about Rosaline and is now infatuated with Juliet. Even though Friar Laurence says, “Wisely and slow.
They stumble that run fast II. iii. 94. “, his curtain of phantasm makes him think he can go against this wise judgment. Mercutio is the only character that always stays with his initial judgment. Mercutio believes that sexual satisfaction is the only thing people feel for one another. That love is a man-made front used to justify a sexual relationship. “Why, is not this better now than groaning for love? now art thou sociable, now art thou Romeo; not art thou what thou art, by art as well as by nature: for this drivelling love is like a great natural, that runs lolling up and down to hide his bauble in a hole II. v 82-87. ”
He describes love as a natural or something illegitimate and fake. Then he uses the metaphor of a “bauble in a hole” to say that all that a person who claims to be in love really wants is sexual contentment. Once again his words alter the audience’s view on the entire story. The main theme of the play is the feeling of true love. The real theme of the story, according to Mercutio’s words is the desire for sexual acceptance and relationships. Since we know Juliet has a loveless family, we can assume Romeo does as well.
They yearned for another form of acceptance since they were never given any from their family. They were immediately drawn to one another because they were both looking for that same kind of sexual desire . Rosaline swore to be chaste because she was not in need of sexual acceptance. Unlike Romeo and Juliet she has a healthy family relationship. Another important quote came in Act three, Scene one, when Mercutio subconsciously expresses his opinion on fate.
“Why the devil came you between us? I was hurt under your arm. III. i 99-100. Mercutio believes people determine their pathway through life as well as the pathway of other’s. He defies the story’s theme of fate. Once again he serves as a foil to every character in this story who becomes a victim of fate. Mercutio is the only character whom Shakespeare proposes meets his untimely fate due to another character’s decision instead of a predetermined destiny. Shakespeare develops Mercutio as a character who is dissociated from the commonly known themes of the play.
His motivation for doing this is to have a neutrally based figure of importance. Before Mercutio dies, he lays a curse on both the Montagues and the Capulets. The Capulet House is the house of Tybalt, the person who stabbed Mercutio. The Montague House is the house of Romeo, the person who blocked Mercutio’s view allowing Tybalt to stab him. Mercutio, being of royal blood, is not bound to either house. He makes it seem as though no character is right or wrong. He does relatively the same thing for the relationship between Romeo and Juliet.
Although he has no idea they are married or even know each other, he states that any love Romeo may feel now is really a desire for sex. According to Mercutio, characters such as Lord Capulet, Paris, and all the others who are supposedly pitted against Romeo and Juliet’s relationship can be looked upon as the ones who really know what is best for Juliet. Shakespeare also uses Mercutio as a connection between the characters in the play and the audience. His comic relief before certain important scenes does not add to the seriousness of the play, but makes it seem as though the tragedy is actually a clever farce.
When he is talking to Romeo and telling him how foolish he is, he is almost telling the audience that this story is highly improbable and almost childish. For example, his antics in Act two, Scene three, make the conversation between Romeo and the Nurse regarding the wedding seem ridiculous. Mercutio and Romeo were just having a puerile conversation with immature puns and banter, and then Romeo starts talking about his secret wedding. Mercutio is arguably the most important character in Romeo and Juliet, if not the most discussed.
The story itself is a great tale, but Mercutio’s role is beyond plots and events. He is what makes the play puzzling. So many interpretations of how Shakespeare intended Mercutio to be viewed have been written over the years. Some have gone so far as to say Mercutio shows signs of homosexuality. No matter which interpretation one believes, it is important that one realizes the true vice that Shakespeare is trying to reveal in this farce is discovered through Mercutio. They are that love is a front of sexual desire and acceptance, and that people determine their own fate.
If Mercutio is so important then why is he killed early in the play’shakespeare kills Mercutio to once again show the audience how foolish the other characters are. Romeo kills Tybalt without realizing the consequences. After Romeo kills Tybalt he states, “O, I am fortune”s fool! III. i. 133. ” Once again, according to Mercutio, there is no such thing as fortune. There is the outcome of one’s actions. Romeo is unknowingly calling himself a fool for his own careless judgment. Shakespeare is loved for his story lines, but he is respected for the characters he has created.
It is ironic how in Romeo and Juliet characters such as Capulet, Romeo, and Friar Laurence are made out to be wise but in actuality make bad judgment. It is also ironic that Mercutio is depicted as a childish youth when really he is the character with the most insight. Shakespeare uses Mercutio’s insight as a contrast to every other character to show how ridiculous the other characters actually are. If you pay attention to the plots and story lines, this play is a love story. If you understand Mercutio’s purpose, then this play is one of the greatest satires on human emotions ever made.