Once melancholy and depressed by his passions, Romeo is now revitalised, buoyed by a renewed romantic energy after seeing Juliet at her balcony. Thoughts of his impending marriage have enlivened him to meet all of Mercutio's barbed, verbal challenges with equally gilded retorts. An air of excited anticipation energizes the atmosphere. Mercutio continues to ridicule Romeo as a Petrarchan lover for employing the popular love poetry of the sonnets. However, his speech is ironic because he still believes that Romeo is in love with Rosaline, and he never discovers Romeo's love for Juliet. These rapid, highly energized exchanges between the two friends reflect Romeo's own feelings of anticipation at his forthcoming wedding.
Mercutio, ...view middle of the document...
As in other parts of the play, vastly contrasting ideas coexist — love and hate; euphoria and despair; good and evil; levity and danger.
The news of Tybalt's challenge threatens to embroil Romeo in the violence of the family feud. While Romeo is well-liked in the community and has a peaceable reputation, Tybalt is a proud and vengeful foe. He is determined to confront Romeo despite Lord Capulet's opposition to continuing the feud. Although Capulet has forbidden any further violence, he remains the figurehead of the old conflict. "Fiery" Tybalt is Capulet's heir-apparent in carrying on the hostility since both men are quick-tempered and ready for a battle at a moment's notice. In contrast, Romeo is elated by his love for Juliet. His romantic idealism lightens his steps and carries him above these dark concerns.
The motive for Tybalt's quarrel with Romeo arguably stems from Tybalt's own masculine aggression rather than a sense of honor, thus emphasizing the trivial nature of the feud and Tybalt's isolation in maintaining the grudge.
The antagonism between Mercutio and Tybalt is intensely portrayed in this scene because both men are adversarial and quick-tempered. Mercutio scorns Tybalt's challenge and mocks him as someone more concerned with fashion than substance — a man who employs foreign styles of fencing and their terminology, which Mercutio regards as effeminate: "Ah, the immortal passado, the punto reverso, the hay!"
The sense of anticipation increases in this scene through repeated references to time. The Nurse's delay in finding Romeo amplifies an already intense sense of urgency. News that the wedding ceremony will take place at 2 p.m. illustrates the speed with which Romeo and Juliet meet and are to be married — in less than 24 hours.