Throughout the works of William Shakespeare, the main character is complemented with another character that acts or serves as the protagonist's foil. In Romeo & Juliet, the protagonist, Romeo, is fickle, idealistic, impractical and naïve. To balance Romeo as a character, Shakespeare creates Mercutio; a good friend of Romeo's who acts as his conscience. While Romeo has an idealistic perspective of the world and more specifically of love, Mercutio balances Romeo's weak points as a dreamer. Mercutio is pragmatic, sensible, and clever and a master on word play. Throughout the play, Mercutio mocks Romeo's naïve and ridiculous fascination with love. Early in the play, Romeo goes on and on about his deep infatuation with the beautiful Rosaline.
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As Benvolio and Mercutio are walking the streets of Verona, Benvolio warns Mercutio that they should retreat for fear of a fight might occur. Tybalt, a kinsmen of the Capulet's approach Benvolio and Mercutio and asks to speak to one of them. Romeo enters the scene and refuses to be angered by Tybalt and urges that Tybalt wait before he fights. Tybalt calls Romeo, "thou art a villain." (Act 3, Scene 1) By this time, Romeo is secretly married to Juliet and does not wish to fight his own kinsmen. Mercutio gets angry that Romeo does not fight Tybalt. "O calm, dishonourable, vile submission! Alla stoccata carries it away." (Act 3, Scene 1). Romeo then begs Mercutio to put down his sword, "Gentle Mercutio, put thy rapier up." (Act 3, Scene 1) As Romeo tries to step between Mercutio and Tybalt, Mercutio falls under Tybalt's sword. As Tybalt retreats, Mercutio lies on the ground dying and curses Romeo, "
Why the devil came you between us? I was hurt under your arm." (Act 3, Scene 1) With Mercutio's death and last words (he curses both the Montague's and Capulet's), Romeo weighs upon himself his justification for not fighting Tybalt. Mercutio especially acts as his conscience in this scene because Romeo, upon reflection realizes that he should have fought Tybalt in Mercutio's defense and reflects that his love for Juliet, "Thy beauty hath made me effeminate. And in my temper soften'd valour's steel!" (Act 3, Scene 1) Tybalt re-enters the scene to fight Romeo and