Act III - Scene I

A public place.

Enter Mercutio, Benvolio, and Men.

I pray thee, good Mercutio, let's retire.
The day is hot, the Capulets abroad.
And if we meet, we shall not scape a brawl,
For now, these hot days, is the mad blood stirring.
Thou art like one of these fellows that, when he enters(5)
the confines of a tavern, claps me his sword upon the
table and says ‘God send me no need of thee!’ and by the
operation of the second cup draws him on the drawer,
when indeed there is no need.(10)
Am I like such a fellow?
Come, come, thou art as hot a jack in thy mood as any
in Italy; and as soon moved to be moody, and as soon
moody to be moved.
And what to?(15)
Nay, an there were two such, we should have none
shortly, for one would kill the other. Thou! why, thou
wilt quarrel with a man that hath a hair more or a hair
less in his beard than thou hast. Thou wilt quarrel with a
man for cracking nuts, having no other reason but be(20)
cause thou hast hazel eyes. What eye but such an eye
would spy out such a quarrel? Thy head is as full of quar
rels as an egg is full of meat; and yet thy head hath been
beaten as addle as an egg for quarrelling. Thou hast quar
rell'd with a man for coughing in the street, because he(25)
hath wakened thy dog that hath lain asleep in the sun.
Didst thou not fall out with a tailor for wearing his new
doublet before Easter, with another for tying his new
shoes with an old riband? And yet thou wilt tutor me
from quarrelling!(30)
An I were so apt to quarrel as thou art, any man
should buy the fee simple of my life for an hour and a
The fee simple? O simple!

Enter Tybalt and others.

By my head, here come the Capulets.(35)
By my heel, I care not.
Follow me close, for I will speak to them.
Gentlemen, good den. A word with one of you.
And but one word with one of us?
Couple it with something; make it a word and a blow.(40)
You shall find me apt enough to that, sir, an you will
give me occasion.
Could you not take some occasion without giving?
Mercutio, thou consortest with Romeo.
Consort? What, dost thou make us minstrels? An(45)
thou make minstrels of us, look to hear nothing but
discords. Here's my fiddlestick; here's that shall make
you dance. Zounds, consort!
We talk here in the public haunt of men.
Either withdraw unto some private place(50)
And reason coldly of your grievances,
Or else depart. Here all eyes gaze on us.
Men's eyes were made to look, and let them gaze.
I will not budge for no man's pleasure, I.

Enter Romeo.

Well, peace be with you, sir. Here comes my man.(55)
But I'll be hang'd, sir, if he wear your livery.
Marry, go before to field, he'll be your follower!
Your worship in that sense may call him man.
Romeo, the love I bear thee can afford
No better term than this: thou art a villain.(60)
Tybalt, the reason that I have to love thee
Doth much excuse the appertaining rage
To such a greeting. Villain am I none.
Therefore farewell. I see thou knowest me not.
Boy, this shall not excuse the injuries(65)
That thou hast done me; therefore turn and draw.
I do protest I never injur'd thee,
But love thee better than thou canst devise
Till thou shalt know the reason of my love;
And so good Capulet, which name I tender(70)
As dearly as mine own, be satisfied.
O calm, dishonourable, vile submission!
Alla stoccata carries it away.


Tybalt, you ratcatcher, will you walk?
What would'st thou have with me?(75)
Good King of Cats, nothing but one of your nine lives.
That I mean to make bold withal, and, as you shall use
me hereafter, dry-beat the rest of the eight. Will you
pluck your sword out of his pitcher by the ears? Make
haste, lest mine be about your ears ere it be out.(80)
I am for you.


Gentle Mercutio, put thy rapier up.
Come, sir, your passado!

They fight.

Draw, Benvolio; beat down their weapons.
Gentlemen, for shame! forbear this outrage!(85)
Tybalt, Mercutio, the Prince expressly hath
Forbid this bandying in Verona streets.
Hold, Tybalt! Good Mercutio!

Tybalt under Romeo's arm thrusts Mercutio in, and flies with his Followers.

I am hurt.
A plague o’ both your houses! I am sped.(90)
Is he gone and hath nothing?
What, art thou hurt?
Ay, ay, a scratch, a scratch. Marry, 'tis enough.
Where is my page? Go, villain, fetch a surgeon.

Exit Page.

Courage, man. The hurt cannot be much.(95)
No, 'tis not so deep as a well, nor so wide as a church
door; but 'tis enough, 'twill serve. Ask for me to-morrow,
and you shall find me a grave man. I am peppered, I
warrant, for this world. A plague o’ both your houses!
Zounds, a dog, a rat, a mouse, a cat, to scratch a man to(100)
death! a braggart, a rogue, a villain, that fights by the
book of arithmetic! Why the devil came you between
us? I was hurt under your arm.
I thought all for the best.
Help me into some house, Benvolio,(105)
Or I shall faint. A plague o’ both your houses!
They have made worms’ meat of me. I have it,
And soundly too. Your houses!

Exit, supported by Benvolio.

This gentleman, the Prince's near ally,
My very friend, hath got this mortal hurt(110)
In my behalf—my reputation stain'd
With Tybalt's slander—Tybalt, that an hour
Hath been my kinsman. O sweet Juliet,
Thy beauty hath made me effeminate
And in my temper soft'ned valour's steel(115)

Enter Benvolio.

O Romeo, Romeo, brave Mercutio's dead!
That gallant spirit hath aspir’d the clouds,
Which too untimely here did scorn the earth.
This day's black fate on more days doth depend;(120)
This but begins the woe others must end.

Enter Tybalt.

Here comes the furious Tybalt back again.
Alive in triumph, and Mercutio slain?
Away to heaven respective lenity,
And fire-ey'd fury be my conduct now!(125)
Now, Tybalt, take the ‘villain’ back again
That late thou gavest me; for Mercutio's soul
Is but a little way above our heads,
Staying for thine to keep him company.
Either thou or I, or both, must go with him.(130)
Thou, wretched boy, that didst consort him here,
Shalt with him hence.
This shall determine that.

They fight. Tybalt falls.

Romeo, away, be gone!
The citizens are up, and Tybalt slain.(135)
Stand not amaz'd. The Prince will doom thee death
If thou art taken. Hence, be gone, away!
O, I am fortune's fool!
Why dost thou stay?

Exit Romeo.

Enter Citizens.

Which way ran he that kill'd Mercutio?(140)
Tybalt, that murderer, which way ran he?
There lies that Tybalt.
Up, sir, go with me.
I charge thee in the Prince's name obey.

Enter Prince (attended), Old Montague, Capulet, their Wives, and others.

Where are the vile beginners of this fray?(145)
O noble Prince, I can discover all
The unlucky manage of this fatal brawl.
There lies the man, slain by young Romeo,
That slew thy kinsman, brave Mercutio.
Tybalt, my cousin! O my brother's child!(150)
O Prince! O husband! O, the blood is spill'd
Of my dear kinsman! Prince, as thou art true,
For blood of ours, shed blood of Montague.
O cousin, cousin!
Benvolio, who began this bloody fray?(155)
Tybalt, here slain, whom Romeo's hand did slay.
Romeo, that spoke him fair, bid him bethink
How nice the quarrel was, and urg'd withal
Your high displeasure. All this, uttered
With gentle breath, calm look, knees humbly bow'd,(160)
Could not take truce with the unruly spleen
Of Tybalt deaf to peace, but that he tilts
With piercing steel at bold Mercutio's breast;
Who, all as hot, turns deadly point to point,
And, with a martial scorn, with one hand beats(165)
Cold death aside and with the other sends
It back to Tybalt, whose dexterity
Retorts it. Romeo he cries aloud,
‘Hold, friends! friends, part!’ and swifter than his
His agile arm beats down their fatal points,
And 'twixt them rushes; underneath whose arm
An envious thrust from Tybalt hit the life
Of stout Mercutio, and then Tybalt fled;
But by-and-by comes back to Romeo,(175)
Who had but newly entertain'd revenge,
And to't they go like lightning; for, ere I
Could draw to part them, was stout Tybalt slain;
And, as he fell, did Romeo turn and fly.
This is the truth, or let Benvolio die.(180)
He is a kinsman to the Montague;
Affection makes him false, he speaks not true.
Some twenty of them fought in this black strife,
And all those twenty could but kill one life.
I beg for justice, which thou, Prince, must give.(185)
Romeo slew Tybalt; Romeo must not live.
Romeo slew him; he slew Mercutio.
Who now the price of his dear blood doth owe?
Not Romeo, Prince; he was Mercutio's friend;
His fault concludes but what the law should end,(190)
The life of Tybalt.
And for that offence
Immediately we do exile him hence.
I have an interest in your hate's proceeding,
My blood for your rude brawls doth lie ableeding;(195)
But I'll amerce you with so strong a fine
That you shall all repent the loss of mine.
I will be deaf to pleading and excuses;
Nor tears nor prayers shall purchase out abuses.
Therefore use none. Let Romeo hence in haste,(200)
Else, when he is found, that hour is his last.
Bear hence this body, and attend our will.
Mercy but murders, pardoning those that kill.



  1. Mercutio was related to the Prince, not the Capulets or Montagues. The Prince ignores both arguments made by the Montagues and Capulets because their feud took the life of one of his kin.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  2. Notice that Benvolio tells the same story that the audience just witnessed first hand. Much like the Prologue that narrates the story for the audience before the play has begun, Benvolio narrates the scene after it has ended. This both reminds the audience to pay attention and summarizes what just happened in case anyone missed it.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  3. Fortune was a medieval and Early Modern concept that explained sudden reversals in luck on all levels of society, such as loss of money or fatal sickness. Here, Romeo invokes this common image in order to show that he is a victim of the indifferent Lady Fortune and that his bright future has suddenly disappeared. However, "fool" also suggests that Romeo recognizes that his future was taken from him because he allowed himself to be tricked by Fortune.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  4. With this line Romeo marks the turning point in the play and within himself. Thus far, the audience has seen Romeo melancholic and in love. This marks the point at which Romeo enters the feud. Ironically, Romeo acknowledges that this turn in events will end in woe, foreshadowing his tragic end.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  5. "Conduct" in this context means guide. At the beginning of the scene love was Romeo's guide. Because Mercutio has died, Romeo's love has been replaced by hatred.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  6. Benvolio's call to Romeo here recalls Juliet's call to Romeo in the balcony scene. Juliet's repetition of Romeo's name removed its importance. Benvolio's repetition of Romeo's name reassigns importance to it. Benvolio metaphorically marks Romeo as a Capulet, which makes Tybalt his mortal enemy.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  7. Notice that in the wake of his friend's death, Romeo immediately blames his actions on love. Love and violence are once again conflated. However, while this theme occurred only in metaphors and puns before, now they move tragically into reality.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  8. "Near ally" means close relative: Mercutio is the Prince's cousin. Romeo takes up feeling of injustice, which Mercutio voiced in his dying words, that Mercutio died for a feud he was not related to.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  9. The "book of arithmetic" is fighting by calculation, in other words fighting with proper fencing technique. Here, Mercutio is particularly angry because Tybalt did not fight by the book but rather stabbed Mercutio under Romeo's arm. Mercutio laments that it was not a fair fight, and implicates Romeo in his murder.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  10. "Peppered" means done for. As soon as Mercutio makes his joke about being dead the next day, he realizes that it is not a joke but rather the truth. In this moment he becomes angry and his language changes from playful and punning to serious and literal.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  11. "Grave man" means both someone who is serious and someone who inhabits a grave. As he dies, Mercutio continues to play with language. However, the double entendre now invoked by his speech is not playful but heavy, and foreshadows his own death.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  12. Remember that Mercutio is neither a Capulet nor a Montague, but rather a collateral victim of their feud. In cursing Romeo's house, Mercutio reminds Romeo that he fought on his behalf and died for Romeo's family's honor. In this way, Romeo becomes responsible for avenging Mercutio's death.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  13. This is the first time that Mercutio utters this curse on the Montagues and Capulets. In Shakespeare's time it was believed that curses had to be said three times in order to be serious. The first was a joke, the second was angry, and the third laid the curse. Notice that as the curse is repeated it becomes more real; the progression of the curse underscores the growing severity of Mercutio's wound until he finally dies. Having Mercutio, the play's main comedic character, die slowly rather than instantly allows his death to symbolize the play's transition from comedy to drama: just as the curse goes from a joke to a malediction, so does the play go from a romance to a tragedy.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  14. This is a fencing term that means "at the thrust," "on gaurde," or let's begin. Mercutio challenges Tybalt to battle in order to redeem Romeo's "vile submission," or perceived cowardice.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  15. Here, Romeo extends his love for Juliet to her family. He proposes the very feeling that the Friar had hoped would resolve the hatred between the two families; however, ironically it is this compassion that causes the coming tragedy.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  16. "Field" in this context means a battlefield. Mercutio takes up Tybalt's insult and converts "man," meaning manservant, into "man" meaning opponent in battle. Notice that Mercutio keeps escalating the insults so that they suggest physical violence.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  17. "My man" was the address form one used to refer to their servant. In this context, Tybalt is calling Romeo is "man," or servant, in order to disrespect Romeo and infuriate Mercutio.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  18. This is an insult that combines "God's wounds" into one word. God's wounds references the wounds Jesus received while on the cross and was seen as an incredibly offensive insult in Shakespeare's time.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  19. In most productions of this play, Mercutio draws his sword as he says this line to compare a musician's violin, or "fiddlestick," to his sword. Mercutio is using the same punning language that he used with Romeo and Benvolio earlier in the play. However, here he uses it to taunt Tybalt to fight.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  20. Depart here means to take leave, but it also grimly points to the second meaning of this word, to depart from the world or die. Benvolio warns Mercutio to leave the fight because too many people are watching, while his language signals to the audience that this fight will be the death of Mercutio.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  21. Mercutio is taunting Tybalt to fight him. He is enacting the same behavior that he assigned to Benvolio earlier in this scene. Mercutio marks himself as the hot-headed fighter.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  22. It is ironic that Mercutio tells Benvolio that he is a hot-head when Mercutio has been the most outspoken and offensive character in the play so far. Mercutio describes himself more in his anecdote about the tavern brawler than Benvolio.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  23. This is another instance of foreshadowing that refers to the tragedy promised in the Prologue. Moments like this remind the audience that they are watching a tragedy so that they understand the irony in these exchanges, which would otherwise be seen as comedic.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  24. To pardon those who kill may seem merciful, but in the long run it does more harm than good because it only encourages other people to commit more murders. Therefore, paradoxically, the "mercy" is actually responsible for murders. The Prince is not implying that the only punishment for murder should be death, since he is sentencing Romeo to exile.

    — William Delaney