Act I - Scene.iv
The three Montague’s, Romeo, Benvolio and Mercutio,
wearing masks attend the Capulet feast. Romeo is still in a melancholy mood and the others mock him.
Romeo still has reservations about going to the feast saying that he learned in a dream that it was a bad idea. Mercutio responds by giving a long speech about Queen Mab of the fairies who visits people’s dreams.
Romeo eventually stops the speech and Benvolio reminds them that they are
employed on serious business by attending the Capulets’ house.
Romeo’s spirits start to rise as they enter the Capulet home.
At first this scene seems unnecessary, as the audience
already know that Romeo and his friends are going to the feast and that Romeo is sad.
Shakespeare’s main aim is to provide details concerning Mercutio’s
He is shown to be a witty and clever person introducing puns throughout his dialogue. As a good friend of Romeo, he is able to gently mock Romeo as no other character can. In fact he stands in contrast to all the other characters in the play because he is able to see through the shallowness of the society in Verona. He ridicules Romeo’s passionate love, which he considers to be frivolous, and he also mocks Tybalt’s adherence to the fashions of the day.
Shakespeare through Mercutio shows his ability as a master punner, and in
this way he is able to twist the meanings to words.
It is worth reading the Queen Mab speech again, as it is one of the most
famous in the play. She brings dreams to sleeping people, and these dreams are normally based on pagan, Celtic mythology before the time when Christianity was brought to England. The word ‘mab’ refers to
whores in Elizabethan England.
By the end of the speech, Queen Mab is the hag who teaches maidens to have sex, so the dreams that Queen Mab brings to people are more than child’s fairy tales, but possess a darker side, and this has a direct relationship to the story of Romeo and Juliet. This too starts almost like a fairy tale, but there will be no happy ending.