Shakespeare’s play Romeo and Juliet is filled with interesting characters, plots, and twists. Two of the most notable characters in the play are Mercutio and the Nurse. They both bring an exciting element of comic relief and also a sense of tragedy that shapes the outcome of the plot and the plays fatal ending. These two characters acted as the closest companions to Romeo and Juliet (aside from each other after meeting) and were influential and bold characters throughout the play. Mercutio was related to the Prince, but also acted as Romeo’s dearest friend.
Mercutio was bold outspoken, and seemingly eccentric. The Nurse acted as a surrogate mother to Juliet all of her life and was her closest friend and confidante. Her personality was funny, helpful, and very protective of Juliet, though it may not have been for the best. Both characters played a huge role in the romance of the young lovebirds and their relationships and advice often influenced the teens throughout the play. They both had a very different view of love than do the lovesick teens, yet were loyal companions who supported them in their differences of opinions.
So how do these friendships influence and affect the relationship of Romeo and his fairest Juliet, and its outcome? Throughout the play, Mercutio and the Nurse made it clear that they did not share the same views on love as did Romeo and Juliet. They both displayed actions and verbal quotes suggesting that love was not a real emotion, and was merely an exaggerated appetite for lust. Often Mercutio acknowledges that Romeo is a “lover”, but tends to downplay the emotion and attempts to warn that love is troublesome and teases him for his feelings.
When Mercutio states, “If love be rough with you, be rough with love. Prick love for pricking, and you beat love down. ” (49), he is trying to advise Romeo and love does hurt and that he must learn to deal with these emotions and fight back instead of simply complaining of his broken-heartedness. Mercutio also makes several sexual references in his speeches and suggests that he believes in myth, legend, and the supernatural, as in his explanation of Queen Mab.
Mercutio seems to insinuate that being in love makes a man less of a man, and that relationships with women are mainly sexual. Juliet’s Nurse also offers a lot of sexual innuendo to the tone of the play. She attempts to encourage Juliet to marry Paris merely for his physical attributes by saying, “A man young lady! Lady, such a man as all the world – Why, he’s a man of wax. ” (47), as if this is reason enough to marry him. By doing this she implies that the physical and sexual are the most important aspects of “love”.
Both Mercutio and the Nurse’s views of love is earthy and purely sexual, creating an effective contrast with Romeo and Juliet’s romanticism. The most notable attribute of both characters are the genuine loyalty, love, and friendship they display for Romeo and Juliet. Both characters show loyal traits throughout their time in the play. The Nurse went to meet Romeo to send messages between the two love googly-eyed teens and was even a witness to their wedding and didn’t tell anyone.
Though she may have not agreed with how Juliet was going about her affair with Romeo, she was also intrigued by the sneaking and excitement, it brought about. Throughout the play, one may see the Nurse as a jokester and almost juvenile in her conversation and puns, but none can doubt her obvious strong feelings to love for Juliet. She was Juliet’s “wet-nurse” and has cared for the child her entire life, this is a bond that cannot be broken and both parties understand each other’s personalities and faults and accepted them.
Mercutio also displayed traits of loyalty to his dear friend Romeo. The best examples are his reaction to Romeo’s supposed love for Rosaline and also I defending Romeo against Tylbat. Mercutio seems aggravated with the way Romeo pines over Rosaline in the beginning of the play, and encourages him to go to the party to basically get out and see other ladies the city has to offer, so he can realize that Romeo’s feelings for her are purely lustful and overrated.
He also wants to prove that Rosaline is not “all that” and that Romeo can do and find better for himself. Mercutio’s loyalty to Romeo is also apparent as he defends him against Tybalt who resents Romeo’s feelings for Juliet. This was Romeo’s battle, yet Romeo was not interested in fighting the cousin of his beloved Juliet. Mercutio picks up on these cues and takes it upon himself to fight the battle of behalf of Romeo. Mercutio instigates the fight by saying “O calm dishonourable, vile submission!
Alla stoccata carries it away. Tybalt, you rat-catcher, will you walk? ” (78) Mercutio does this in an effort to protect Romeo and prove that he is loyal and concerned for the well-being of this dear friend. These two characters proved their loyalty and compassion for Romeo and Juliet, but did they fail them as well to an extent? The Nurse and Mercutio made decisions and said things that also lead to the demise of the couple, whose advice eventually led to their untimely deaths.
Towards the end of the play when the Nurse and Juliet had an open disagreement regarding Juliet’s choice in husband and the reasons behind this choice, their friendship and loyalty was truly tested. Since they do not share the same views on love, marriage, and sex, the Nurse does not want Juliet to think of Romeo anymore and advises her that she should proceed with her marriage to Paris as if Romeo were not alive, as she thinks this is better for the girl. Juliet calls her a “most wicked fiend” (99) because the nurse advises Juliet to marry Paris because the difference between men is inconsequential.
This perhaps, is where Juliet sees the Nurse’s loyalty shift and runs to the Friar for help in being with her one true love, in which the Friar’s plan does to go accordingly, leading to the death of Paris, Romeo, and Juliet. The Nurse is the one who delivers the message also that Romeo killed her cousin Tybalt, which may have also added to the Nurses ill feelings toward Romeo in the end. This is where Mercutio’s influence steps into play as a failure to Romeo, though he was only standing up for Romeo, ultimately his cocky and protective nature led to his death.
In turn, encouraging Romeo to avenge his death ad kill Tybalt, this led to his banishment from the city of Verona. Both Mercutio and the Nurse added may elements to the play that were appreciated by the readers. They were comical, sexually explicit, and proved to be good friends to the main characters. This is such a well-written piece and Shakespeare meant for these characters to get as much recognition as Romeo and Juliet. These strong and eccentric characters will continue to be discussed and compared for years to come and are truly important ad entertaining parts of the storyline.