Romeo and Juliet

Shakespeare’s presentation of Benvolio and Mercutio and the contrasting effects they have on Romeo. 10th Grade

Shakespeare uses a great number of linguistic and structural devices throughout his play ‘Romeo and Juliet’ in order to portray the characters and their relationships with one another. In this essay I will explore and analyse the effects and intentions of his writing and the ways in which they present the contrasting effects Benvolio and Mercutio each have on Romeo.

Shakespeare makes explicit throughout the play that both Benvolio and Mercutio are both good friends to Romeo. From the beginning of the play Benvolio is established as both an advisor and confidant to Romeo, someone who Romeo clearly trusts. Benvolio repeated encourages Romeo to forget about Rosaline as he instructs him to ‘Compare her face with some that [he] shall show and [he] will make thee think thy swan a crow’, advice that leads to Romeo falling in love with Juliet. To many audiences it may seem like a sound suggestion, however to a more superstitious audience, the ornithological imagery used by Shakespeare in this declarative foreshadows the fated end of Romeo and Juliet’s relationship, made poignant by the fact that a crow can be seen as a sign of death. By linking this extended metaphor and use of an imperative to Romeo meeting Juliet, Shakespeare’s...

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