Romeo and Juliet: Act 3, Scene 1

As they walk in the sun, Benvolio tells Mercutio that they should go inside to avoid a fight with the Capulets.

Tybalt enters and asks to speak to the two men. Just as he does, Romeo enters and Tybalt begins to taunt him, calling him a villain. None of the men realise that Romeo is now actually related to Tybalt through marriage and therefore has no desire to fight with him and he brushes off his verbal attack.

Tybalt tells Romeo to draw his sword but Romeo refuses and tells him that he has good reason to love him. He tells Tybalt that until he knows of the reason for his love that he puts his sword aside. Mercutio, angry at how cowardly Romeo is behaving draws his sword and declares that if Romeo won’t defend the Montague’s honour, he will. As they fight, Romeo places himself between the two men and Tybalt manages to would Mercutio under the arm of Romeo, before fleeing.

Mercutio dies cursing both families, with the line, “A plague o’ both your houses.’ Romeo is now raging and blames Juliet for taking away his masculinity. When Tybalt reappears, Romeo storms towards him, stabbing him and killing him in the process. Benvolio, fearing for Romeo’s life, due to the threat by Prince Escalus in the opening scene tells Romeo to flee. He does so, shouting, “O, I am fortune’s fool!” as he flees.

The Prince enters and Benvolio tells him what happened. Benvolio tries to explain that Romeo tried to keep the peace but Lady Capulet, distraught at the death of her nephew (Tybalt) says Benvolio is lying to protect Romeo. Prince Escalus banishes Romeo from Verona and says that he will be killed, should he return to Verona.

Questions:

  1. Why does Romeo not want to fight Tybalt in this scene?
  2. Why does Mercutio get angry?
  3. What are Mercutio’s last words? What do these words mean and what is he trying to convey?
  4. Why do you think Romeo now wants to fight? How do we know he has changed from the start of the scene?
  5. What does Romeo blame Juliet for in this scene?
  6. How does Romeo react when Benvolio tells him he must flee?
  7. What does Benvolio tell the prince about what happened?
  8. Why does Lady Capulet dispute this? What does she want to happen?
  9. What does the prince decide at the end of the scene?

Activity:

  1. Imagine you are the director of this scene. Explain what decisions you would make in this scene in relation to costumes, facial expressions, body posture, lighting, sound effects and set. Explain your decision with relevant reference to the text.
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