Support the Monkey! Tell All your Friends and Teachers
Table of Contents | Message Board | Printable Version
Tybalt, a Capulet, is trouble from the beginning. He's so hot-tempered and full of hate that even his family thinks he's a "saucy boy." He can be seen as the embodiment of the feud. During the play, he fights Benvolio, Lord Capulet, Mercutio, and Romeo.
In temperament, he is a contrast to Benvolio. In the first scene, when Benvolio talks of peace, Tybalt leaps in with "I hate the word as I hate hell, all Montagues, and thee."
In nature and personality, he is contrasted to Mercutio. Mercutio is witty, cultured, and educated, and he isn't about to take an insult from someone like Tybalt, whose only means of expression is a sword. Mercutio's extreme dislike of Tybalt is another reason he must take up Tybalt's challenge of Romeo.
Benvolio, a Montague, is the kind of person we'd all like to have for a friend. When Romeo wants to be left alone, he leaves him alone; when he wants to talk, Benvolio is there to listen with a sympathetic ear. And when Romeo is in trouble for killing Tybalt, it's Benvolio who gets him off the street and into hiding.
Benvolio is known as a clear-thinking, reliable, and peace-loving young man. He tries to stop fighting whenever it starts; and he's called on twice to explain what's happened. When Romeo's parents want to find out what's bothering their son, they ask Benvolio to find out, and he does.
Still, he's more than a one-dimensional character. At the beginning of the play, he, like Romeo, has "a troubled mind," that leads him to take a walk before sunrise. He, too, teases the Nurse; and he stretches the truth a little when he tells the Prince that Tybalt started the fight, implying that he killed Mercutio without provocation. These faults make us like him even more.
Count Paris is the terzo incomodo, the unwelcome third party in the love triangle with Romeo and Juliet.
Shakespeare makes sure that he compares favorably with Romeo. He is young, handsome, wealthy, and, socially, his family is a step above Romeo's-Paris is related to Prince Escalus. Paris, too, is tired of the feud and sincerely in love with Juliet. He never tries to steal Juliet from Romeo; he proposes before Juliet meets Romeo, and he dies without knowing he has a rival.
Unlike Romeo, he goes through the proper channels to get Juliet to marry him. He formally asks Juliet's father for her hand, and he approves. In contrast, Romeo's love for Juliet is forbidden, and he's secretive about his plans. Paris' language, wooden and straight-laced, is also in contrast to Romeo's.
Paris becomes a threat to the lovers only because he doesn't know about their relationship. As an honorable young man, he would never have gone after Juliet if he'd known she were married. If he'd known about the marriage, he never would have challenged Romeo at the Capulets' tomb.
Paris, like Romeo and Juliet, is a victim of "sour misfortune." He, too, is given a place of respect and importance in the tomb with Romeo and Juliet.