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Romeo And Juliet

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In the play, Romeo and Juliet, William Shakespeare utilizes the irony surrounding Mercutio's death in accordance with his conception of love in order to foreshadow the tragic end of his "star-crossed" lovers. Mercutio takes on the roles of both a comic and fatal figure in the work. With his tendency for inconspicuous irrelevance, his rants and ravings are often passed over for irrational babble. However, a pattern can be found in what he is revealing to the reader. His words, as unnecessary and long-winded as they may seem, parallel the tragic theme Shakespeare underscores throughout the play.

Mercutio's flippant feelings concerning the notion of true love are obvious in his many speeches. For example, he sees through Romeo's supposed feelings of love for Rosaline, and he is quick to belittle Romeo's intentions. Even as Romeo comes to him for consolation, Mercutio's devilish wit takes over as he makes a mockery of Romeo's plight. He says, "If love be rough with you, be rough with love / Prick love for pricking, and you beat love down"(1.4.27-28). Mercutio does not see the need for Romeo to let his so-called true love take over his life. He sees through this love and knows that it is not real. His skeptic nature with regards to this type of love parallels the underlying image of love as lust found throughout the play.

These feelings on the part of Mercutio are also emphasized as he and Benvolio search for Romeo after the Capulet ball. Here Benvolio is concerned for Romeo, but Mercutio is almost annoyed at the though of having to console his lovesick friend. He again pokes fun at Romeo's battle with true love. Mercutio glibly says: He heareth not, he stirreth not, he moveth not; The ape is dead, and I must conjure him. I conjure thee by Rosaline's bright eyes, By her forehead and her scarlet lip, By her fine foot, straight leg, and quivering thigh, And the demesness that there adjacent lie, That in thy likeness thou appear to us! (2.1.15-21) At this, Benvolio urges Mercutio to be more sensitive to Romeo, but Mercutio sees no need. For Mercutio is under his own assumption that lust, not love, lie behind Romeo's sorrows. His exaggerated idea for a magical intervention reflects that theory.

Furthermore, through his ravings, Mercutio suggests that Romeo has fallen in love with his own creation. Mercutio sees Romeo chasing after an illusion of love that was made perfect in his own mind. He does not give in to the notion that Romeo has found the exact woman that will complete him in every way. Mercutio feels that this illusion will be detrimental to Romeo's character. He explains, "Why, that same pale hard-hearted wench, that Rosaline / Torments him so that he will sure run mad" (2.4.4-5). He feels that, in chasing such a figment of his imagination, Romeo will lose his grasp on things that should, and have previously, mattered to him. According to Mercutio, Romeo's true identity will be lost forever if he continues believing in his false impression of true love.

Mercutio finds his fears to be warranted and is extremely distressed by the loss of the "real" Romeo. He feels that the object of Romeo's affection has ruined him in every sense of the world. Mercutio sees Romeo as effeminate and no longer possessing the masculine qualities he once did. Mercutio forcefully laments to Benvolio, "Alas, poor Romeo, he is already dead! / Stabbed with a white wench's black eye; run through the / ear with a love song; the very pin of his heart cleft with the blind bow-boy's butt-shaft; and he is the man to encounter Tybalt" (2.4.13-16). Here Mercutio's exasperation about the whole ordeal is presented in his callous description of Rosaline as well as his vicious allusion to Cupid. He even goes on to doubt Romeo's abilities to deal with conflict as he once had. In Mercutio's opinion, Romeo has been damaged by his love for a woman, and this causes Mercutio to lose faith in his kinsman.

Later, when Mercutio gets a glimpse of the old Romeo, it becomes evident the kind of love Mercutio does believe in. As Mercutio and Romeo banter back and forth like they had done numerous times before, Mercutio's faith in Romeo is renewed. Romeo is acting as a man again. He is following in line with the social construct set for them all. Mercutio asks of Romeo: Why, is not this better now than groaning for love? Now thou art sociable, now art Romeo; now Art thou what thou art, by art as well as by nature? For this drivelling love is like a great natural that runs lolling



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