Act III – Scene.i
We return to the streets of Verona where Benvolio and
Mercutio walk the streets under the blazing sun.
Tybalt enters with a group of his friends and approaches the two Montague
men. Mercutio begins to taunt Tybalt. Romeo enters and Tybalt calls him a villain for having gate crashed the feast. Romeo is now secretly Tybalt’s kinsman, and refuses to be angered by Tybalt’s
verbal attack. Tybalt commands Romeo to draw his sword, but Romeo resists saying that he does not wish to fight him.
Rather than fight him he has good reason to love Tybalt, but refuses to disclose the reason for his love.
Mercutio angrily draws his sword, saying that he will fight Tybalt if Romeo
Romeo throws himself between the two trying to restore order, but Tybalt
stabs Mercutio under Romeo’s arm and kills him.
As he dies, he curses the families saying ‘A plague o’ both your houses’. Romeo is enraged, declaring that his love for Juliet has made him less of a man and that he should have fought Tybalt.
Tybalt returns to the scene, the two fight and Romeo kills Tybalt.
The Prince enters and although Benvolio tells the Prince the whole story
concerning the brawl, the Prince exiles Romeo from Verona saying that if he is found within the city he will be killed. Romeo, shocked at what has happened cries ‘O, I am fortune’s fool!’
The audience is brought back to the reality of the
streets of Verona by this violent scene. Here in these streets, it is the law of the sword that prevails.
Romeo and Juliet’s love takes place in a highly masculine world.
Shakespeare uses this scene to emphasize how fragile the lovers’ romance is,
and how outside forces will act to destroy it.
The fight scenes are chaotic and it is clear that passion outweighs reason,
and the deaths are needless.
Romeo’s cry is in desperation and frustration due to his misfortune in having to kill his wife’s cousin and getting himself banished. Romeo blames fate for his misfortune whereas Mercutio in his dying speech curses the two families rather than a larger force. His curse will soon come to fruition on both houses.
Shakespeare enforces a belief of the times that too much love makes a man
lose his manliness, this being echoed by Romeo at the death of Mercutio.
Romeo’s killing of Tybalt was carried out in the heat of the moment and had
he the time to ponder the situation he may have acted differently.
Romeo’s action has threatened the public order of Verona and the Prince has no alternative but to act decisively. Unbeknown to him, his action is aimed at thwarting the love of Romeo and Juliet. The danger now for Romeo in continuing to meet Juliet is increased because he has to avoid the authorities as well as the Capulets.