The deaths of Tybalt and Mercutio occur in Act 3 Scene 1. The scene begins with Benvolio and Mercutio talking. Benvolio is trying to persuade Mercutio to leave because, if the Capulets are around, there would be trouble e. g. “I pray thee good Mercutio let’s retire”. Benvolio is used by Shakespeare as a peacemaker, he will not argue or upset anybody and will not side with anyone as he is neither Capulet or Montague, he is, however, Romeo’s friend. When Tybalt enters, he is very confident and obviously thought greatly of himself. He was looking for Romeo whom he wants to fight.
Mercutio was teasing Tybalt because of his name, Tibalt was a cat in an old story so he calls Tybalt a “rat-catcher” and “king of cats”. Later, when Romeo appears, he doesn’t want to fight because he and Tybalt are now related. This is called dramatic irony, as we know Romeo has married Juliet but the other characters don’t. Mercutio and Tybalt end up fighting and, as Romeo tries to stop the fight, Tybalt stabs Mercutio. He dies after being accidentally wounded under Romeo’s arm. Because of this Romeo seeks revenge and kills Tybalt. Romeo realises there will be trouble so he runs away.
The Prince and Lord and Lady Capulet and Montague arrive to find out what’s happened. Benvolio explains and the Prince banishes Romeo from Verona. At the beginning of the scene the characters speak in prose which is informal language, this is a chatty style of talking. The younger characters all speak prose to one another unless they are talking to someone of a higher status. The Lord and Lady Capulet and Montague speak in poetry, this is formal language and people of a lower status or young people speak to them in poetry to show respect. The Prince also talks in poetry because he is the ruler of Verona in the play.
It could be said that any number of people or factors are to blame for the deaths. Firstly, you could argue that Tybalt is to blame because if he hadn’t challenged Romeo to a duel, Mercutio would not have stepped in and there would not have been a fight between them which resulted in Mercutio’s death. If the death of Mercutio hadn’t occurred Tybalt would not have been slain by Romeo. Therefore if Tybalt did not want Romeo dead, he and Mercutio would both be alive and probably even the death of Romeo and Juliet could have been prevented. On the other hand.
You could say it was Mercutio’s fault because if he hadn’t agreed to go to the Capulet party, Romeo would not have followed and then that could have prevented the argument between Tybalt and him. Also if Mercutio hadn’t started the fight with Tybalt, he would not have died. In the scene Mercutio was really teasing Tybalt, making him quite angry. When Mercutio drew his sword the pair instantly started fighting, which only happened because they thought they would bring honour to their families if they won. Mercutio would not have been involved at all had it not been for Romeos refusal to fight Tybalt.
Only the nurse, friar, audience and couple themselves know the reason, which was that Romeo and Juliet had got married that morning. Romeo could not fight Tybalt because they were now related. “… and so good Capulet, which name I tender as dearly as my own, be satisfied. ” were the words spoken to Tybalt by Romeo which probably confused him because the two families had an “ancient grudge” and were known to hate each other. Tybalt probably wondered why Romeo now loved the Capulets as much as he loved his own family, the Montagues. This is an example of dramatic irony.
You could therefore argue that Romeo is to blame for Mercutio’s death because if Romeo was not so love-struck when he met Juliet he wouldn’t have married her. The day before he was totally in love with Rosaline. If the marriage between Juliet and him hadn’t happened then Romeo probably would have fought Tybalt and Mercutio would not have been involved at all, therefore Mercutio would not have been killed. Duels were more popular between young men because it gave them the chance to show off their swordsmanship. Mercutio blames the feud for his death: “a plague on both your houses”.
There would not have been any cause for fighting if the feud was non-existant. If there was no grudge between them, Tybalt and Romeo would not have been against each other. The feud between the Capulets and Montagues had been going on for so long, nobody knew what started it. Both families hated each other and fights were quite common between them. There were many feuds between powerful families in Italy at that time. It was very dangerous and people were killed in the fighting. Tybalt did not like Romeo because of what he heard about him from others, and also because he was a Montague.
Romeo and Juliet’s marriage would not have had to have been a secret if the families liked each other. If the Capulets found out about Romeo and Juliet’s marriage they would have him killed for dishonouring their family. You were expected to defend the things you care about. Shakespeares intention in this scene, however, is to show the characters behave the way they do because of the society and age they lived in. Honour was very important to everyone in those days and it was vital having people honour you. The Montagues and Capulets would fight in order to win honour for their families.
Winning a duel was something to be proud of as your family would honour and respect you. That was usually the reason for all the fighting Tybalt was honourable in his family because he was an excellent swordsman and won many duels. In addition it was a very male orientated society, you would never see women out un-chaperoned. Women who walked the streets alone were considered prostitutes unless they were married, they had to be accompanied when in public. Sword fighting was almost an every day thing. Men were always fighting for their honour in the streets.
They thought they were marvellous after winning a fight so they fought all the time to try and win and be honoured. We also need to consider exactly why Shakespeare wanted to eliminate Mercutio and Tybalt in this scene. He does this so, from now on, the audience can give their undivided attention to Romeo and Juliet. If Mercutio came on stage people would expect a laugh and a joke. He was a very high-spirited character who was comical and witty. Shakespeare had to “get rid of” Mercutio because, compared to him, Romeo seemed so weak and boring.
Tybalt was a very charismatic, confident character and seemed almost like a bully. If he was still there the audience would be interested in his sarcastic ways and how he liked to make people feel small, Romeo and Juliet would not be centre of attention like they needed to be. Also this is where the play becomes more serious, in the tragic second half of the play there wasn’t really a place for Mercutio’s high spirits or Tybalt’s so he had to go to make sure the audience would concentrate on the main story.
The play would also have started to “drag” if he hadn’t killed off some characters. After this scene, neither the Nurse or Benvolio are seen again because also they are not needed, they have done their bit now and Shakespeare needs to get on with making Romeo and Juliet the main characters. If Benvolio was still there he would still be peace-making with everybody when the play needed some tragedy whilst leading up to the death of Romeo and Juliet. This is an excellent example of stagecraft and shows Shakespeare the dramatist at work.
In conclusion, having considered all the evidence, I think that no-one is to blame for the death of Tybalt and Mercutio because there are many What ifs? But they are not what happened. Mercutio and Tybalt were at the wrong place at the wrong time, they were just very unlucky. Fate decides what happens to everybody, and what happens just happens, there is no changing it. Everything happens for a reason and in this case fate intervened and they died, it’s no-one’s fault.