Romeo and Juliet– Mercutio
At the time Mercutio makes his well-known “Queen Mab” speech in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, he and Romeo, together with a group of their buddies and kinsmen, are on the method to a party offered by their household’s arch-enemy, Lord Capulet. Their strategy is to crash the party so that Romeo might have the chance to see his existing love, Rosaline, whom they understand has been welcomed to the Capulet’s masque that evening.
Romeo, whom his pals appear to consider typically extremely amusing and fun, initially believed the party-crashing would be a terrific idea, however unexpectedly is gotten rid of by a sense of terrific foreboding; although they “imply well in going to this mask …’t is no wit to go” (I, iv, 48-49). This frustrates Mercutio, who does not recognize Romeo’s unwillingness as a genuine premonition, but feels it is merely another example of Romeo’s lovesick whims. Romeo tries to discuss to Mercutio that it is based upon a very troubling dream, and Mercutio passes that off as silly, informing him that “Dreamers frequently lie. Here he is not saying that Romeo himself is a liar, however that people need to put no faith in dreams. But Romeo is insistent; dreamers lie “in bed asleep, they do dream things true” (I, iv, 52). This all of a sudden launches Mercutio into a speech that modifies the whole pace of the scene. Up to now, the discussion has actually been typical of a group of individuals walking through the streets-short phrases, a generally relaxed mood. With Mercutio’s words, “O, then I see Queen Mab have actually been with you!” he plunges into a forty-two line speech which is actually made up of only two sentences, providing him hardly enough breath to pause between expressions.
The essence of the speech issues Mab, whom Celtic mythology thought about to be the midwife of the fairies, and who also is held to be responsible for people’ dreams. The Queen Mab speech is absolutely fanciful, explaining, as if to a child, this tiny little creature who flies through the air in a little carriage, driven by a “wagoner” who is a gnat. On the surface this seems like it ought to be lovely, however when one boils it down, it isn’t charming at all. For example, Queen Mab’s “cover” of her carriage is made from insect wings, which indicates that someone needs to have pulled the grasshopper’s wings off to make it.
Ditto for the spider’s legs which act as the wagon’s spokes, and the riding-whip which is made from a cricket’s bone. Mercutio mentions that the whole apparatus is not “half so huge as a round little worm/ Pricked from the lazy finger of a house maid”-however do living house maid’s fingers have worms in them? He jumps off the subject of Mab’s carriage, nevertheless, to explain its route. Mab’s function is apparently to drive over the sleeping types of human beings, and trigger them to dream of things proper to their station in life.
For example, she causes legal representatives to dream of charges, girls of love, and soldiers of warfare. Here, once again, this sounds fanciful enough; yet he somehow drifts off into a deluge of images that are at total chances with the sweet, practically childish story it appeared he was going to tell. It is not enough that soldiers imagine war: they need to dream of “cutting foreign throats,/ Of breaches, ambuscadoes, Spanish blades,/ Of healths five fathom deep; and after that anon,/ Drums in his ear, at which he begins and wakes,/ And being thus frighted swears a prayer or more/ And sleeps again” (I, iv, 83-87).
Simply put, Mercutio began his speech with a reverie and ended with headaches. Mab does not look like such an adorable little creature now. In a sense, this is how the play goes, also. Romeo begins by having a harmless crush; at the point in the story when Mercutio gives his speech, Romeo’s infatuation with Rosaline will lead him to the house of yet another lady, Juliet, with whom he will fall madly in love. This love affair, nevertheless, is doomed in every respect.
It is doomed not only because the Montagues and Capulets are sworn enemies; it is doomed likewise since Romeo and Juliet are too young to handle such a violent passion as their love ends up being. It is not unintentional that Shakespeare starts this play by describing the feud which has actually separated Verona in two, and the very first scene offers, not with love, but with a street brawl. Romeo and Juliet’s Verona is a very violent location, and it would be strange undoubtedly if these 2 kids of Verona experienced a sweet and mild love.
What is simply as intriguing as Mercutio’s speech itself is how hysterical he gets while providing it. At the beginning of the scene, when we first meet the buddies on the way to the party, Mercutio comes off as a swift, wise-cracking joker. He and Romeo obviously delight in a close bond, and they delight in exchanging teasing small talk with one another. They manage to do this even as Romeo firmly insists that he is far too depressed over Rosaline to be good business. The conversation up to Mercutio’s fateful “O, then I see Queen Mab hath been with you!” is fairly light.
With those words, the whole state of mind changes; it is practically as if a stone, set at the top of a hill, has actually been loosed, and it gets momentum as it plunges downhill. As Mercutio’s images become less “adorable” and more patently disconcerting, the rhythm in Shakespeare’s iambic pentameter ends up being more driving, and Shakespeare enables less and less “breathing room” in between phrases. By the end of the passage, Mercutio is actually galloping through his speech. Romeo, the extremely individual everybody felt needed cheering up, is required to disrupt Mercutio-“Peace, peace, Mercutio, peace! Thou talkst of nothing”-to relax him down (I, iv, 95-96). What has occurred? Mercutio probably does not even understand. But it appears fairly clear that Mercutio has captured a good dose of the foreboding that Romeo himself feels, despite the fact that he has already dismissed it as silly. The two buddies are extremely close, and it is definitely not unlikely that they would be carefully attuned to one another’s state of minds. Whatever the reason, nevertheless, Mercutio’s hysteria itself acts as a sort of foreshadowing of the disaster to come. There is a very good reason for putting this speech toward completion of Act I.
It is our introduction to Mercutio, and it provides him as a charming, likeable character, which makes everything the more heartbreaking when he is eliminated by the brutal Tybalt later on. Likewise, at this minute Romeo will fulfill Juliet, however as yet has not; that “repercussion yet hanging in the stars” has not shown its lovely and yet fatal face. And, in a really real sense, the sensation we had when Mercutio began his speech-that it looked like the losing of a huge boulder, plunging downhill out of anybody’s control-is replicated in the structure of the play itself.
Here at the end of scene iv in the very first act, in this last minute before Romeo and Juliet fatefully satisfy, is the last minute when the stone is still poised at the mountaintop. In the next scene it will be release, and then there is nothing anyone on earth can do to stop it. In this context, Romeo’s last words in this scene are significantly considerable. His sense of fear, after Mercutio’s strange behavior, has actually deepened rather than decreased, and for the very first time he really defines what it is he feels: he senses that the events which will unfold will lead to his death-the ultimate dreamless sleep.
He is, obviously, right. The violence which Queen Mab will set in movement that night are no dreams, but real. And yet Romeo seems to recognize that there is absolutely nothing to be done other than face the future directly; there is no running from it. “But he, that hath the steerage of my course,/ Direct my sail!” (I, iv, 112-13). His final words, “On, lusty gentlemen! “, are to Mercutio and their other buddies, however they might have been resolved to himself also. It is his enthusiasm, his impetuosity, his lust, which will spell his doom-all of it foreshadowed in Mercutio’s “talk of dreams. “