Romeo and Juliet Act 3, Scene 1 Full Summary {Step by Step Guide}

Romeo and Juliet Act 3, Scene 1 Full Summary {Step by Step Guide}

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Romeo and Juliet Act 3, Scene 1 Full Summary| Romeo and Juliet Act 3, Scene 1 Summary

On the streets of Verona, Mercutio, Benvolio, and Mercutio’s page (servant) are walking and talking. Benvolio tells Mercutio that they should leave the streets because the Capulets are outside, the day is hot, and everyone feels like fighting.

Mercutio says that Benvolio is like a man who walks into a bar, puts his sword on the table, and says that he prays he will not have to use the sword.

Then, when he gets a second drink, he pulls the sword to attack the bartender when there is no need. Benvolio asks if he is really like that.

Mercutio says that Benvolio loves to argue about everything – that Benvolio is “as hot a Jack in thy mood as any in Italy” (as angry as any man in ltaly). Benvolio is easily “moved to be moody” and “moody to be moved” (gets angry quickly and acts on his anger).

Benvolio thinks the conversation is funny and pretends he does not understand. He asks what he is moved “to.” Mercutio plays with the words “to” and “two.”

He says that no two men like Benvolio could exist because each angry man would soon kill the other and there would then be no man left.

Mercutio says that Benvolio would argue with a man who had one more or less whisker (hair) on his face than Benvolio. He would argue with a man cracking nuts because Benvolio’s eyes are hazel (light brown) – the same color as nuts.

Only Benvolio’s eye would look for a fight like that. Benvolio’s head is like an egg except instead of being full of yolk, it is full of fights. Benvolio’s head is crazy because it has been beaten in fights like an egg that has been scrambled.

Mercutio adds that Benvolio has fought with a man who coughed and woke up Benvolio’s dog which had been sleeping in the sun. He argued with a tailor for wearing new clothing before Easter.

He argued with someone else for tying new shoes with old ribbon, and Benvolio wants to teach Mercutio to walk away from fights!?

Benvolio says that if he fought as much as Mercutio did, then anyone could buy the “fee simple” of his life (complete ownership of his life) for an hour and a quarter.

(Benvolio’s life would have little value and soon end. Anyone could buy his life by working for just an hour and fifteen minutes.) Mercutio says that Benvolio’s fee simple is simple. (He means that Benvolio has a simple brain Benvolio is stupid.)

Benvolio says, “By my head, here comes the Capulets.” Mercutio says, “By my heel, I care not.” (Benvolio sees the Capulets and wants Mercutio to be careful, but Mercutio is ready to fight and step on the Capulets.)

Tybalt tells his men to follow him closely because he wants to speak to someone in Mercutio’s group. Tybalt greets Mercutio’s group and says he wants “a word” with one of them.


Mercutio asks if Tybalt only wants one word with one of them. He says Tybalt should give a word and a “blow” (hit). Tybalt said he would be ready to fight if he were given a reason to fight.

Mercutio says that Tybalt should be able to have a reason without Mercutio having to give him one.

Tybalt is only interested in finding and fighting Romeo. Tybalt says he knows that Mercutio “consort[s]” with Romeo. (“Consort” had two meanings – to associate with someone or to sing with someone.)

Mercutio knows that Tybalt wants to know where Romeo is, but Mercutio pretends to be insulted by Tybalt’s words. (Mercutio pretends that Tybalt is saying that Mercutio and Romeo’s other friends are “minstrels” (singers.)

Mercutio pulls out his sword and says, “Here’s my fiddlestick… that shall make you dance.” (A fiddlestick is a bow that a musician violin (fiddle) uses to play a violin, but Mercutio plans to make Tybalt move a lot (like a dancer) by fighting him with a sword.)

Benvolio tells them that they are arguing in public. Mercutio and Tybalt should go somewhere private, talk reasonably, or each walk away. Mercutio says that men’s eyes were made to look, and they can look. He will not move for anyone.

Tybalt sees Romeo coming and says to Mercutio, “Wll, peace be with you, sir. Here comes my man.” Mercutio angrily tells Tybalt that Romeo is not Tybalt’s “man” (servant). He says Romeo would only follow Tybalt to a field if Romeo were following Tybalt to fight him.

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Tybalt turns to Romeo and says, Romeo, the tovei bear thee can afford No better term than this: thou art a villain.” Tybalt is being sarcastic – saying the opposite, at first, of what he really means. He has no love for Romeo, but does think he is a villain (a bad man).

Romeo says he has a reason to love Tybalt that helps him excuse Tybalt’s insult and helps him feel less anger. (Romeo’s reason to “love” Tybalt is that Romeo has married Juliet, Tybalť’s cousin. Tybalt has no idea what Romeo is talking about.)

Romeo says he is not a villain. He says good-bye and turns to walk away. He says Tybalt does not know him. Tybalt says that Romeo’s words are no excuse for what Romeo has done to hurt Tybalt.

(Tybalt is still angry and insulted that Romeo went uninvited to the Capulet party.) Tybalt tells Romeo to turn around and pull out his sword.

Romeo does turn around, but he does not pull out his sword. He tells Tybalt that he had never hurt him and that he loves the name Capulet as much as he loves his own. He asks Tybalt to be satisfied.

Mercutio has no idea that Romeo has married Juliet. He thinks Romeo is still getting over loving Rosaline. How can Romeo say that he loves the name Capulet? Mercutio cannot understand why Romeo will not fight Tybalt.

Mercutio says that Romeo’s “submission” (acceptance of Tybalt’s insults) is dishonorable. Then Mercutio says, “Alla stoccata carries it away.” (“Alla stoccata” means the first thrust of a sword. Mercutio will take away the dishonor to the Montague name by fighting Tybalt himself.)

Mercutio pulls out his sword, calls Tybalt a “rat-catcher” (because “Tybalt” is also the name of a famous cat), and asks Tybalt to fight him.

Tybalt asks what Mercutio wants. Mercutio calls Tybalt the “Good King of Cats,” and says he wants one of Tybalt’s nine lives.

Mercutio says that if Tybalt is not nicer after that, then Mercutio will “dry- beat” (use the flat of his sword to hit) Tybalt during his other eight lives that he, as a cat, will have.

He tells Tybalt to pull the “sword out of his pilcher [its sheath or holder] by the ears.” (This makes it sound like Tybalt’s sword is a lazy boy who needs to be disciplined by having his ears pulled.

This is an example of personification giving human characteristics to things.) Mercutio talks more about ears, saying he will hit Tybalt’s ears with his sword if Tybalt does not quickly get his sword out to fight.

Tybalt agrees to fight and pulls out his sword. Romeo tells Mercutio not to fight, but Mercutio does not listen. He tells Tybalt to show him his passado – his forward thrust.

Romeo draws (pulls out) his sword and tells Benvolio to draw his Sword, so they can beat down Tybalt and Mercutio’s swords. Romeo tells Mercutio and Tybalt to stop fighting.

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He adds, “Tybalt, Mercutio, the prince expressly hath/ Forbidden bandying in Verona streets: Hold, Tybalt! Good Mercutio!” Next, Romeo tries to stop the fight by holding Mercutio.

Tybalt hits Mercutio by thrusting his sword under Romeo’s arm. Petruchio tells Tybalt they should leave, and all of the Capulets do leave.

Mercutio says, “I am hurt. A plague o’ both your houses! I am sped. Is he gone and hath nothing?” (When Mercutio says that he is “sped,” he means that his life is ending.

He hopes that a plague – an ilness that kills – will destroy the Montagues and Capulets because Mercutio now knows their dislike of each other is no reason to die. Mercutio asks if Tybalt has run away with no injuries, no wounds.)

Benvolio asks, “What, art thou hurt?” (What, are you hurt?) Mercutio is dying the same way he lived. He speaks sarcastically and says his wound is only a scratch, but it is “enough.” He means it is enough to kill him. He tells his page to go to get a doctor.

Romeo and Benvolio do not see Mercutio’s wound. Romeo tells Mercutio to have courage and says that Mercutio cannot be badly hurt. Mercutio’s response is one of the most famous speeches in literature:

“No, ’tis not so deep as a well, nor so wide as a church door; but ’tis enough, ’twill serve. Ask for me tomorrow, and you shall find me a grave man.

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I am peppered, I warrant, for this world. A plague o’ both your houses! Zounds, a dog, a rat, a mouse, a cat, to scratch a man to death! a braggart, a rogue, a villain, that fights by the book of arithmetic! Why the devil came you between us? I was hurt under your arm.”

Note: In this speech, Mercutio says again that his wound is enough to kill him. The comparison of his wound to a well makes readers think of his blood as being like water, important for life and running out.

A well is also a hole in the ground that holds water, and Mercutio’s body will soon be buried in the ground. The church door makes readers think of the church’s connection to death ceremonies and belief in an after-life.

Mercutio still puns, playing with the word “grave” which means both “serious” and “a hole in the ground for a body.” Tomorrow Mercutio will be buried in a grave, and he will not be able to make jokes.

Mercutio says again that his life is ending and he hopes God will curse the two houses (families) – the Montagues and the Capulets.

He curses by saying the word “Zounds” (God’s wounds) and says that Tybalt is a dog, a rat, a mouse, and a cat who has scratched him to death.

He says Tybalt is someone who brags (says how good he is), someone who is dishonest, and someone who is a villain who learnedd to fight by reading a book.

Mercutio asks Romeo why Romeo had come between him and Tybalt. He tells Romeo that Tybalt made the killing hit under Romeo’s arm.

Romeo says that he had only been trying to do the best thing – stop the fight. Mercutio turns away from Romeo and asks Benvolio to help him to a nearby house.

Mercutio does not want to faint and lie unconscious in the street. Mercutio again asks for a plague to destroy the Montague and Capulet “houses” (families).

He says they have made “worms’ meat” of him. (He will be dead in the ground with the worms.) He curses the fighting families’ houses
again, and with Benvolio’s help, he leaves.

After Mercutio and Benvolio leave, Romeo talks to himself. He says that Mercutio, a gentleman and relative of the Prince and Romeo’s dear friend, has received a “mortal hurt,” a sword thrust that will kill him because he had fought for Romeo’s honor when Romeo had accepted Tybalt’s insults.

Romeo tells himself that Mercutio has been killed by Tybalt who has only been Romeo’s cousin for an hour. (Only one hour has
passed since Romeo married Juliet, and less time than that has passed since Benvolio had said that he would be dead in an hour and a quarter if he fought as much as Mercutio.)

Romeo says, “O sweet Juliet, / Thy beauty hath made me effeminate/ And in my temper soften’d valour’s steel!” (Oh, Juliet, your beauty has made me act like a woman, softening my bravery which had been as hard as steel.)

Benvolio returns to Romeo and says, “O Romeo, Romeo, brave Mercutio’s dead!” Benvolio says that Mercutio’s spirit has gone to the clouds in heaven and it left earth too soon. Romeo says that Mercutio’s death will bring trouble that others will have to end.

Note: Character Foils: Mercutio and Romeo are character foils. Character foils are people in a story who are opposites of each other. Because they are opposites, character foils help readers to truly understand a character.

Readers can then see which characteristics change the events in the story. For example, Mercutio liked to joke, to make fun of romantic love, and to be realistic.

Romeoliked to think about love, loved the idea of love, and was a dreamer. Now Mercutio is dead, and the time for joking and dreaming is over.

Benvolio sees Tybalt coming and tells Romeo that the angry Tybalt has returned. Romeo is very angry that Tybalt is alive and Mercutio is dead. Romeo tells himself that he is sending his soft, permissive feelings to heaven.

Now Romeo will use only anger when he meets Tybalt. Romeo tells Tybalt to take back the word “villain” that he had insulted Romeo with earlier.

Mercutio had died because of that word, and now Mercutio’s soul is in the air above their heads. Mercutio is waiting for Tybalt to go with him to heaven. Romeo says that Tybalt, Romeo himself, or both of them will soon go to heaven with Mercutio.

Tybalt tells Romeo that since Romeo came here with Mercutio, Romeo should be the one to go with Mercutio to heaven. Romeo says he will fight Tybalt and the fight will decide who will go with Mercutio. Romeo and Tybalt fight. Romeo makes the killing hit.

Benvolio tells Romeo that he needs to leave. Tybalt is dead. People will come, and the Prince will order Romeo’s death. Romeo just stands there, and Benvolio keeps telling him to leave. Romeo cannot believe how everything has gone wrong.

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He complains about his bad luck – about being “fortune’s fool.” Then when Benvolio asks him why he is waiting, Romeo leaves.

Citizens come. They are looking for the murderer of Mercutio. They have heard that the murderer’s name is Tybalt. They want to know where Tybalt is.

Benvolio says that Tybalt is the man lying on the ground. One citizen goes to Tybalt and orders him, in the name of the Prince, to get up and go with him.

Of course, since Tybalt is dead, he cannot go to the Prince to answer questions about killing Mercutio. The Prince comes and asks where the bad men who started the fight are. Benvolio calls the Prince “noble Prince” and says that he can explain everything that happened.

Benvolio tells the Prince that the man lying on the ground is Tybalt who murdered the Prince’s relative – “brave Mercutio.” He says
that Romeo killed Tybalt, the murderer.

Lady Capulet cries out to the Prince that Tybalt is her brother’s child, her nephew. She asks the Prince to have Romeo killed – to have Romeo’s blood pay for Tybalt’s blood.

The Prince asks Benvolio who started the fight. Benvolio says that Tybalt had started the fight, even though Romeo had spoken politely to him and had said that the Prince had promised that if the Capulets and Montagues ever fought in the streets of Verona, the fighters would be put to death.

Tybalt would not listen and he fought Mercutio. Tybalt pointed his sword at Mercutio’s breast, and Mercutio fought back, escaping death at first.

Then Romeo ran in, telling the two men to stop fighting and used his arm to push down the points of both Tybalt’s and Mercutio’s swords.

Then Tybalt, full of anger and jealousy, pushed his sword point under Romeo’s arm, took Mercutio’s life, and ran away. Benvolio finishes talking to the Prince by saying that when Tybalt returned, Romeo wanted revenge.

Quickly, Romeo and Tybalt had fought. Before Benvolio could stop them, Romeo had killed Tybalt and then Romeo did “turn and fly.  This is the truth or let Benvolio die!”

Lady Capulet (unknown to her, Romeo’s new mother-in-law) is very angry. She tells the Prince that he should not listen to Benvolio because he is a member of the Montague family.

She says that her nephew must have fought 20 Montagues because her nephew could not have been easily killed. She tells the Prince:
“I beg for justice, which thou, Prince must give. Romeo slew [killed] Tybalt. Romeo must not live.”

The Prince says that Romeo killed Tybalt and Tybalt killed Mercutio. He asks who should pay for the “dear blood” of the Prince’s own relative Mercutio.

Lord Montague (Romeo’s father) says that Romeo should not pay for Mercutio’s death because he was Mercutio’s friend. Romeo did what the law would have done he took the life of Tybalt the murderer.

The Prince says that because Romeo killed Tybalt, Romeo must leave Verona immediately and never return.

The Prince cares about the fighting between the Montagues and the Capulets, not just because he is the leader of Verona, but because the fighting has killed his own family member – Mercutio.

The Prince says he will punish everyone strongly so that they will all be sorry that they caused the loss of the life of a member of the Prince’s family.

The Prince says that he will not listen to requests for him to change his decision. He will not listen to excuses. Romeo must be told to leave the city now. If he is found in Verona, he will be killed. The Prince tells the people to take away Tybalt’s body and do what the Prince says.

He finishes his speech by saying that if he is nice to murderers, then more murders will happen. (The Prince must have peace in his city. He must not allow fighting and killing.)

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