At the start of the scene in a public place Benvolio was very worried about meeting the Capulets and begged Mercutio to leave. When Benvolio said “these hot days is the mad blood stirring” the word “hot” represented the potential rage which was to be found in Mercutio “blood” seemed to be a premonition of the real blood that about to be spilt… Benvolio knew his friend Mercutio very well, he did not take any offence to what Mercutio said and accepted him for who he is. After Mercutio had thrown in lots of accusations at Benvolio, he simply replied, “And I were so apt to quarrel as thou art, any man should/ buy the fee-simple of my life for an hour and a quarter.” It predicted Mercutio’s death. Benvolio seemed to realise that Mercutio was going to get it trouble.
When Tybalt arrived, Benvolio was not involved in the fight. He was anxious to keep as neutral as possible; he was silent even when Romeo asked him to intervene. This was interesting because there is evidence of Benvolio intervening in a fight. [“close fighting I did approach” Act 1 Scene 1] Benvolio acted as a messenger in the rest of this scene to Romeo and the prince. E.g. informed Romeo of Mercutio’s death and gave a recount of the events in line133-166. Benvolio had always tried to make peace. [“I do but keep peace” Act 1 Scene 2 is another example.] I don’t think Benvolio should be entirely blameless because he could have stopped the fight, but then again, if he got involved, his opinion may have no longer been trusted by the prince.
When Mercutio said to his friend Benvolio: “thy head is as full of quarrels as an egg is full of meat” and accused him of being gloomy, he was in fact talking about himself. Vivacious, spontaneous, jesting even in death, (line 96-9) emotion ruled Mercutio. He provided a contrast with the calm and clearheaded Benvolio. When Tybalt approached, Mercutio deliberately provoked him to fight. Witty and always alert to double meanings, when Tybalt said “consortest” in line 44 he meant “to associate with”. But a company of musicians was called a “consort” so Mercutio used this opportunity to take offence since a hired musician (minstrel) was an offensive term. Mercutio always seemed to do exactly what Benvolio advised him not to. In Act 1 Scene 4 for example, when Benvolio said to Romeo “we’ll measure them a measure and be gone” implying that they should leave quickly, Mercutio replied “Nay… we must have you dance” There was also evidence for Mercutio being frequently accusative. “art thou what thou art” Act 2 Scene 4. Mercutio holds lots of responsibility for his own fate and what follows because he intentionally started the fight, which led to his own death and Romeo killing Tybalt.
When Tybalt first entered the scene, he was quiet calm and polite towards Mercutio and Benvolio “Gentlemen, good den (good evening)” Even after Mercutio insulted and provoked him many times, Tybalt didn’t react because he came to fight Romeo. Evidence to suggest this is when challenged to fight, Tybalt replied: “you shall find me apt enough to do that, sir, and you will give me occasion” This also hinted of Tybalts intention to fight Mercutio. His attitude changed immediately at Romeo’s arrival. He became more direct. (No “good den” this time) and when he said “the love I bear thee can afford” the word “love” meant hate. Tybalt insulted Romeo straight away, calling him “villain” a term used to address servants. When this didn’t work, Tybalt got straight to the point “turn and draw” and ordered Romeo to take out his sword. Tybalt desperately wanted to fight. It was typical of Tybalt to be hot-headed and violent and an excess of pride is one of his other traits. “patience perforce with wilful choler meeting/ Makes my flesh tremble…I will withdraw …this intrution shall…convert to bitt’rest gall ” Act 1 scene 5. Evidence in Act 1 also showed that he hated reasoning. “I hate the word”. Although there was evidence in the film we saw that their fight wasn’t serious. “Mercutio: nothing but one of your nine lives that I mean to make bold withal” Tybalt should be apportioned the majority of the blame because killing someone, even in an accident, is a serious offence.
There were no signs of aggression in Romeo’s behaviour at the start of the scene. This showed that Romeo was anxious not to cause a fight because he was now related to Tybalt. “I love thee better than thou can devise” Romeo just calmly answered to Tybalts accusations. “villain am I none;/ Therefore farewell, I see thou knowest me not. ” Despite his good intentions, Romeo is partly responsible for Mercutio’s death because if Romeo hadn’t stood between Mercutio and Tybalt, Tybalt may not have had the chance to stab Mercutio. It was quiet foolish for Romeo to intervene considering that Tybalt had challenged Romeo to fight before, so it entirely possible for Tybalt to try to kill Romeo. Romeo felt very guilty and distressed at the death of Mercutio. He blamed himself because he thought that Mercutio only stepped in because he had refused to fight. “My very friend hath got this mortal hurt/ in my behalf; / my reputation stained” In the last line of the quote, it appeared that Romeo thought people were going to blame him for Mercutio’s death. Romeo himself also blamed Juliet for making him cowardly. “Thy beauty hath made me effeminate, /And my temper softened valours steel!”
Romeo was a lot more violent after Mercutio’s death. Fire, heaven the soul, and especially death were mentioned in line 113-120. Shakespeare was trying to create tension, and it again prefigures the ending of the story. I think Romeo is his real self in Act 3 Scene 1 rather than in the earlier examples. Before this scene, Romeo came across as being very wrapped up in his own self-indulgent melancholy; his talk was poetic and artificial. “I am too sore enpierced with his shaft/ To soar with his light feather, and so bound I cannot bound a pitch above dull woe;” Act 1 Scene 4. Romeo didn’t mention the identity of the girl, which revealed that he doesn’t need a partner, but like the idea of being in love. The Romeo in Act 3 was more mature, serious, and determined. His words were also less constrained, and contained fewer metaphors. Romeo is directly responsible for Tybalts death. Romeo detestably killed Tybalt for revenge and for his own reputation without consideration for Juliet or his family. He did it on impulse and later regretted it. When Benvolio begged him to leave before he was caught, Romeo blamed fate, and called himself “fortunes fool” A lack of thought for the consequences of his action caused Romeo to follows the prompting of passion rather than to listen to reason.
Lady Capulet put all the blame on Romeo but he was her enemy so her opinion shouldn’t be trusted. When Benvolio gave the Prince a recount of the events, he biased his account in Romeo’s favour. Although Romeo did “speak Tybalt fair” he had not mentioned the Prince’s displeasure. So there is some truth in what lady Capulet said. Montague blamed Tybalt but he was in the same situation as lady Capulet. Neither of them saw the fighting and both were biased in favour of their own family. His opinion shouldn’t be trusted either. The Prince blamed everyone in a way. “your rude brawls ” He meant the conflict between the families. I agree with him.
Mercutio was to blame for starting the fight, and Tybalt was responsible for killing Mercutio. They should be apportioned most of the blame because it was their careless actions that started what had followed. Romeo was responsible for killing Tybalt so he should also be blamed. Benvolio was least to blame because he always tried to make peace. Although Tybalt, Mercutio and Romeo were directly responsible for what happened. It is the ancient feud between the Montagues and the Capulets that really began the chain of tragic events. If the feud had not existed, none of this would have ever happened.