Romeo and Juliet

A Celebration of the Minor Characters in Romeo and Juliet

In his play Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare puts his minor characters to good use. Romeo’s friend Mercutio and Juliet’s nurse are both characters that are not considered the main focus of the play, but nevertheless play a crucial role in the lives of Shakespeare’s central characters. The nurse acts as a link between the Capulet and Montague families, and thus allows communication and planning to take place between Romeo and Juliet, while Mercutio’s presence in the story is instrumental to the plot. Each role is useful and necessary in the play because they provide some comic relief, but also because their personalities help to define the protagonists and their actions enhance the way that the story turns out. Without these characters, the play would not function properly.

Mercutio and the nurse both enhance the play’s theme of ‘young love’ by comparing their level-headed ways to the passion-driven ways of the main characters. The crude language that is used by Mercutio and the constant sexual references that are made by the nurse amplify the naïveté of the love between Romeo and Juliet. Both have a preoccupation with sex, while Romeo and Juliet prefer to profess the complete adoration that they have for one another. Both of...

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