home contact

Romeo and Juliet

Please see the bottom of this page for detailed explanatory notes and related resources.

ACT III SCENE I A public place. 
[Enter MERCUTIO, BENVOLIO, Page, and Servants]
BENVOLIOI pray thee, good Mercutio, let's retire:
The day is hot, the Capulets abroad,
And, if we meet, we shall not scape a brawl;
For now, these hot days, is the mad blood stirring.
MERCUTIOThou art like one of those fellows that when he
enters the confines of a tavern claps me his sword
upon the table and says 'God send me no need of
thee!' and by the operation of the second cup draws
it on the drawer, when indeed there is no need.
BENVOLIOAm I like such a fellow?10
MERCUTIOCome, come, thou art as hot a Jack in thy mood as
any in Italy, and as soon moved to be moody, and as
soon moody to be moved.
BENVOLIOAnd what to?
MERCUTIONay, an there were two such, we should have none
shortly, for one would kill the other. Thou! why,
thou wilt quarrel with a man that hath a hair more,
or a hair less, in his beard, than thou hast: thou
wilt quarrel with a man for cracking nuts, having no
other reason but because thou hast hazel eyes: what20
eye but such an eye would spy out such a quarrel?
Thy head is as fun of quarrels as an egg is full of
meat, and yet thy head hath been beaten as addle as
an egg for quarrelling: thou hast quarrelled with a
man for coughing in the street, because he hath
wakened thy dog that hath lain asleep in the sun:
didst thou not fall out with a tailor for wearing
his new doublet before Easter? with another, for
tying his new shoes with old riband? and yet thou
wilt tutor me from quarrelling!
BENVOLIOAn I were so apt to quarrel as thou art, any man
should buy the fee-simple of my life for an hour and a quarter.31
MERCUTIOThe fee-simple! O simple!
BENVOLIOBy my head, here come the Capulets.
MERCUTIOBy my heel, I care not.
[Enter TYBALT and others]
TYBALTFollow me close, for I will speak to them.
Gentlemen, good den: a word with one of you.
MERCUTIOAnd but one word with one of us? couple it with
something; make it a word and a blow.
TYBALTYou shall find me apt enough to that, sir, an you40
will give me occasion.
MERCUTIOCould you not take some occasion without giving?
TYBALTMercutio, thou consort'st with Romeo,--
MERCUTIOConsort! what, dost thou make us minstrels? an
thou make minstrels of us, look to hear nothing but
discords: here's my fiddlestick; here's that shall
make you dance. 'Zounds, consort!
BENVOLIOWe talk here in the public haunt of men:
Either withdraw unto some private place,
And reason coldly of your grievances,
Or else depart; here all eyes gaze on us.50
MERCUTIOMen's eyes were made to look, and let them gaze;
I will not budge for no man's pleasure, I.
[Enter ROMEO]
TYBALTWell, peace be with you, sir: here comes my man.
MERCUTIOBut I'll be hanged, sir, if he wear your livery:
Marry, go before to field, he'll be your follower;
Your worship in that sense may call him 'man.'
TYBALTRomeo, the hate I bear thee can afford
No better term than this,--thou art a villain.
ROMEOTybalt, the reason that I have to love thee
Doth much excuse the appertaining rage60
To such a greeting: villain am I none;
Therefore farewell; I see thou know'st me not.
TYBALTBoy, this shall not excuse the injuries
That thou hast done me; therefore turn and draw.
ROMEOI do protest, I never injured thee,
But love thee better than thou canst devise,
Till thou shalt know the reason of my love:
And so, good Capulet,--which name I tender
As dearly as my own,--be satisfied.
MERCUTIOO calm, dishonourable, vile submission!70
Alla stoccata carries it away.
Tybalt, you rat-catcher, will you walk?
TYBALTWhat wouldst thou have with me?
MERCUTIOGood king of cats, nothing but one of your nine
lives; that I mean to make bold withal, and as you
shall use me hereafter, drybeat the rest of the
eight. Will you pluck your sword out of his pitcher
by the ears? make haste, lest mine be about your
ears ere it be out.
TYBALTI am for you.
ROMEOGentle Mercutio, put thy rapier up.80
MERCUTIOCome, sir, your passado.
[They fight]
ROMEODraw, Benvolio; beat down their weapons.
Gentlemen, for shame, forbear this outrage!
Tybalt, Mercutio, the prince expressly hath
Forbidden bandying in Verona streets:
Hold, Tybalt! good Mercutio!
[ TYBALT under ROMEO's arm stabs MERCUTIO, and flies with his followers ]
MERCUTIOI am hurt.
A plague o' both your houses! I am sped.
Is he gone, and hath nothing?
BENVOLIOWhat, art thou hurt?
MERCUTIOAy, ay, a scratch, a scratch; marry, 'tis enough.
Where is my page? Go, villain, fetch a surgeon.
[Exit Page]
ROMEOCourage, man; the hurt cannot be much.
MERCUTIONo, 'tis not so deep as a well, nor so wide as a
church-door; but 'tis enough,'twill serve: ask for
me to-morrow, and you shall find me a grave man. I
am peppered, I warrant, for this world. A plague o'
both your houses! 'Zounds, a dog, a rat, a mouse, a100
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.
ROMEOI thought all for the best.100
MERCUTIOHelp me into some house, Benvolio,
Or I shall faint. A plague o' both your houses!
They have made worms' meat of me: I have it,
And soundly too: your houses!
ROMEOThis gentleman, the prince's near ally,
My very friend, hath got his mortal hurt
In my behalf; my reputation stain'd
With Tybalt's slander,--Tybalt, that an hour
Hath been my kinsman! O sweet Juliet,
Thy beauty hath made me effeminate
And in my temper soften'd valour's steel!110
[Re-enter BENVOLIO]
BENVOLIOO Romeo, Romeo, brave Mercutio's dead!
That gallant spirit hath aspired the clouds,
Which too untimely here did scorn the earth.
ROMEOThis day's black fate on more days doth depend;
This but begins the woe, others must end.
BENVOLIOHere comes the furious Tybalt back again.
ROMEOAlive, in triumph! and Mercutio slain!
Away to heaven, respective lenity,
And fire-eyed fury be my conduct now!
[Re-enter TYBALT]
Now, Tybalt, take the villain back again,
That late thou gavest me; for Mercutio's soul
Is but a little way above our heads,
Staying for thine to keep him company:
Either thou, or I, or both, must go with him.
TYBALTThou, wretched boy, that didst consort him here,
Shalt with him hence.
ROMEOThis shall determine that.
[They fight; TYBALT falls]
BENVOLIORomeo, away, be gone!
The citizens are up, and Tybalt slain.
Stand not amazed: the prince will doom thee death,130
If thou art taken: hence, be gone, away!
ROMEOO, I am fortune's fool!
BENVOLIOWhy dost thou stay?
[Exit ROMEO]
[Enter Citizens, &c]
First CitizenWhich way ran he that kill'd Mercutio?
Tybalt, that murderer, which way ran he?
BENVOLIOThere lies that Tybalt.
First CitizenUp, sir, go with me;
I charge thee in the princes name, obey.
[ Enter Prince, attended; MONTAGUE, CAPULET, their Wives, and others ]
PRINCEWhere are the vile beginners of this fray?
BENVOLIOO noble prince, I can discover all
The unlucky manage of this fatal brawl:
There lies the man, slain by young Romeo,140
That slew thy kinsman, brave Mercutio.
LADY CAPULETTybalt, my cousin! O my brother's child!
O prince! O cousin! husband! O, the blood is spilt
O my dear kinsman! Prince, as thou art true,
For blood of ours, shed blood of Montague.
O cousin, cousin!
PRINCEBenvolio, who began this bloody fray?
BENVOLIOTybalt, here slain, whom Romeo's hand did slay;
Romeo that spoke him fair, bade him bethink
How nice the quarrel was, and urged withal150

Your high displeasure: all this uttered
With gentle breath, calm look, knees humbly bow'd,
Could not take truce with the unruly spleen
Of Tybalt deaf to peace, but that he tilts
With piercing steel at bold Mercutio's breast,
Who all as hot, turns deadly point to point,
And, with a martial scorn, with one hand beats
Cold death aside, and with the other sends
It back to Tybalt, whose dexterity,
Retorts it: Romeo he cries aloud,160
'Hold, friends! friends, part!' and, swifter than
his tongue,
His agile arm beats down their fatal points,
And 'twixt them rushes; underneath whose arm
An envious thrust from Tybalt hit the life
Of stout Mercutio, and then Tybalt fled;
But by and by comes back to Romeo,
Who had but newly entertain'd revenge,
And to 't they go like lightning, for, ere I
Could draw to part them, was stout Tybalt slain.
And, as he fell, did Romeo turn and fly.170
This is the truth, or let Benvolio die.
LADY CAPULETHe is a kinsman to the Montague;
Affection makes him false; he speaks not true:
Some twenty of them fought in this black strife,
And all those twenty could but kill one life.
I beg for justice, which thou, prince, must give;
Romeo slew Tybalt, Romeo must not live.
PRINCERomeo slew him, he slew Mercutio;
Who now the price of his dear blood doth owe?
MONTAGUENot Romeo, prince, he was Mercutio's friend;180
His fault concludes but what the law should end,
The life of Tybalt.
PRINCEAnd for that offence
Immediately we do exile him hence:
I have an interest in your hate's proceeding,
My blood for your rude brawls doth lie a-bleeding;
But I'll amerce you with so strong a fine
That you shall all repent the loss of mine:
I will be deaf to pleading and excuses;
Nor tears nor prayers shall purchase out abuses:
Therefore use none: let Romeo hence in haste,190
Else, when he's found, that hour is his last.
Bear hence this body and attend our will:
Mercy but murders, pardoning those that kill.

Next: Romeo and Juliet, Act 3, Scene 2


Explanatory Notes for Act 3, Scene 1

From Romeo and Juliet. Ed. K. Deighton. London: Macmillan.


2. abroad, out in the town.

4. For now, ... stirring, for in these hot days men's passion bursts out into fury. According to Johnson, it is observed that in Italy almost all assassinations take place in the summer.

6. claps me, see Abb. § 220.

7, 8. by the operation ... cup, by the time his second draught has begun to work upon him: the drawer, the waiter who draws the wine from the casks.

11. a Jack, see note on ii. 4. 121.

12, 3. and as soon ... be moved, and as soon provoked to be ill-tempered, and as soon in the mood to be provoked.

15. two such, Mercutio pretends to take Benvolio's 'what to' for 'which two.'

20. hazel eyes, eyes of the colour of the hazel-nut, light brown.

22. beaten as addle, beaten till it becomes as addled; addle more properly addled, is literally diseased, from A.S. adl, disease, but used of an egg when it will not hatch.

30. the fee-simple, the most absolute property; an estate in fee-simple is the greatest estate or interest which the law of England allows any person to possess in landed property, cp. A. W. iv. 3. 312, "Sir, for a quart d'ecu he will sell the fee-simple of his salvation, the inheritance of it."

32. O simple! foolish fellow.

37. And but one ... us? and is that all you want with us?

38. make it ... blow, couple the 'word' with a 'blow'; a reference to the phrase "a word and a blow," i.e. readiness to follow up an angry word by a blow.

41. Could you not ... giving? could you not find occasion for a quarrel without waiting for some provocation?

42. consort'st with, are a friend, companion of.

43. Consort, an old term for a company of musicians; cp. T. G. iii. 2. 84, "Visit by night your lady's chamber-window With some sweet consort."

45. my fiddlestick, i.e. his sword with which he will play a tune on them that will make them dance to get out of its way. Cp. Faulconbridge's scornful use of "toasting-fork" for "sword." K. J. iv. 3. 99.

46. 'Zounds, a corruption of "God's wounds," i.e. the wounds of Christ when crucified, often spelled 'sounds; so 'sblood for "God's blood," 'sbody for "God's body," etc.

49. And reason ... grievances, and discuss in temperate language the matter in dispute, the cause of complaint you have against each other. The old copies give "Or reason," the word being probably caught from the line below; and is Capell's emendation.

50. depart, part, separate; cp. Cymb. i. 1. 108, "The loathness to depart would grow."

52. budge, stir a step; F. bouger, to stir; for the emphatic double negative, see Abb. § 406.

53. my man, he whom I am in search of.

54. But I'll ... livery, but assuredly he does not belong to the same household with you; pretending to take man in the sense of 'servant,' as two lines below.

55. Marry, ... follower, I'll swear he will be ready enough to follow you to the field of combat, if you care to show him the way; for the definite article omitted in adverbial phrases, see Abb. § 90.

56. Your worship, said ironically.

57. the hate. This is the reading of the first quarto; the remaining quartos and the folios give "the love," which some editors prefer. But an antithesis to Romeo's emphatic "love," two lines lower, seems to be plainly intended.

57, 8. can afford ... this, will not allow me to use any better term.

60, 1. the appertaining ... greeting, the rage which would otherwise belong to, be the necessary consequence of, such an insolent address; for other instances of transposition of adjectival phrases, see Abb. § 419a.

63. Boy, used as a term of contempt, and not necessarily indicating seniority in the speaker; the injuries, the insult you have put upon me (in coming uninvited to Capulet's feast); for injuries, in this sense, cp. iii. H. VI. iv. 1. 107, "But what said Warwick to these injuries?" i.e. the insulting words used by the queen.

66. devise, imagine, conceive.

68. tender, hold dearly, cherish; F. tendre, adjective, tender.

71. Alla ... away, an appeal to the sword wins the day; stoccata is the Italian term for a thrust of a sword, and Alla means 'to the,' the phrase being equivalent to our 'Come on,' said as a challenge. I take the line to refer to Romeo's declining the combat, as though Mercutio had said 'See, a challenge is enough to cow Romeo,' not to refer to what Mercutio himself is going to do, i.e. fight with Tybalt. The stage direction in the margin, Draws, is not found in the old copies, but was first inserted by Capell, and is perhaps not necessary. For carries it away, cp. Haml. ii. 2, 377, "Do the boys carry it away?" i.e. get the better in the contest, win the day.

72. rat-catcher. See note on ii. 4. 18: will you walk? will you go with me to a spot where we can decide our differences by the sword?

74. your nine lives, in allusion to the nine lives that a cat is said to have.

75. to make bold withal, to take the liberty of ending.

75, 6. and, as you shall ... eight, and according as opportunity serves, to cudgel soundly the remaining eight; as you shall use me, according as you treat me when I have put an end to one of your nine lives, i.e. unless I find you more than a match for me, which I have no fear of; for dry-beat, cp. below, iv. 5. 126, "I will dry-beat you with an iron wit"; and C. E. ii. 2. 63, "Lest it make you choleric and purchase me another dry basting"; the idea being that of beating something moist until all the moisture is expelled from it.

77. pilcher, scabbard; probably for pilch, a leathern garment, a garment made of skins; Lat. pelliceus, made of skins. The word is not found elsewhere in this sense, and it has been conjectured that the final -er is a printer's addition, or a mistake for pilch, sir; so Dekker, Satiromastix, "how thou amblest in leather pilch by a play-waggon": ears, hilts, which stood out from the blade as ears do from the head; used also for the handles of a jug, as in T. S. iv. 4. 52, "Pitchers have ears," with a quibble.

77, 8. lest mine ... out, lest you find mine a good deal too close to your head before you have drawn your sword.

79. I am for you, I am ready to meet you.

81. your passado, let me see you make a thrust, a pass; see above, ii. 4. 26.

83. for shame, you ought to be ashamed of yourselves.

85. bandying, exchanging of blows, fighting; see note on ii. 5. 14.

Stage Direction, under Romeo's arm, i.e. Romeo having rushed between them to part them. Tybalt aims a blow at Mercutio, the sword passing under Romeo's arm.

87. I am sped, I am done for, my business is settled: cp. M. V. ii. 9. 72, "So be gone: you are sped," i.e. you have got your dismissal. The original sense of 'speed' is 'success,' then 'a hasty issue.'

88. and hath nothing, without any hurt.

90. villain, not used in the same strong sense as at present; the original meaning being 'a farm-servant'; here = 'you rogue,' said good humouredly.

94. a grave man. With a pun on 'grave' = tomb, a pun which Marston borrows in The Insatiate Countess, v. 2. 65: tomorrow. In Italy, as in all hot climates, the funeral follows closely upon death: I am peppered, ... world, as regards this world I am finished off; cp. i. H. IV. ii. 4. 212, "I have peppered two of them; two I am sure I have paid, two rogues in buckram suits."

96, 7. a dog ... death! to think that I should meet my death at the hands of a wretched fellow like Tybalt!

97, 8. that fights ... arithmetic, that is a mere calculating assassin; referring to the fact that Tybalt had taken the opportunity of Romeo's being between them to aim a cowardly blow at him and then to fly.

98, 9. Why the devil ... arm, i.e. if you had not so officiously interfered, I should have killed him instead of his killing me.

100. I thought ... best, I did what I thought was for the best.

103. I have it, I am done for; like the Lat. habet, he has it, said when a fatal blow was given in the gladiatorial shows at Rome; see note on ii. 4. 24.

104. your houses! curse your families, and their quarrels which have brought me to this pass! On Merciitio's death Hallam remarks, "It seems to have been necessary to keep down the other characters that they might not overpower the principal one; and though we can by no means agree with Dryden, that if Shakespeare had not killed Mercutio, Mercutio would have killed him, there might have been some danger of his killing Romeo. His brilliant vivacity shows the softness of the other a little to a disadvantage." For more information please click here.

105. near ally, near relation; in the dramatis personae he is described as a "kinsman of the prince."

106. My very friend, my true, close, friend.

108. Tybalt's slander. His slanderous accusation in 1.59 above.

108, 9. that an hour ... kinsman, who, by my marriage with Juliet, has only just become my kinsman.

111. And in my ... steel, and melted the courage of my temperament. Though here the result is that of softening, there is in my temper probably an allusion to the tempering of steel, i.e. hardening by cooling it.

113. hath aspired the clouds, has been wafted to heaven; for aspire without a preposition, Malone quotes Marlowe's Tamberlaine, "And both our souls asipire celestial thrones." So Faire Em, i. 68, "And to aspire that bliss ... Thyself and I will travel in disguise"; for prepositions omitted after verbs of motion, see Abb. § 198.

114. Which too ... earth, prematurely scorning to remain on earth.

115. doth depend, hangs over like an ominous cloud, and presages other evils to come.

116. others, other calamities.

119. respective lenity, gentleness that pays any respect to, has any regard for, considerations of kinsmanship; for respective, cp. K. J. i. 1. 188, "'Tis too respective and too sociable for your conversion."

120. my conduct, my guiding principle; cp. below, v. 3. 116, "Come, bitter conduct, come unsavoury guide," said of the poison Romeo is about to drink.

121. take ... again, I hurl back in your teeth the word 'villain' with which just now you slandered me.

122-4. for Mercutio's soul ... company. Cp. H. V. iv. 6. 15-7, "Tarry, dear cousin Suffolk! My soul shall thine keep company to heaven; Tarry, sweet soul, for mine, then fly abreast," said by York on Suffolk's death in battle.

126. consort, accompany.

127. Shalt with him, shall accompany him.

129. are up, are in a state of commotion.

130. will doom thee death, will condemn you to death.

132. fortune's fool, the sport of fortune; cp. i. H. IV. v. 4. 81, "But thought's the slave of life, and life's time's fool. "

135. Up, sir, come along, make haste; cp. M. W. iii. 3. 179, "Up, gentlemen, you shall see some sport anon: follow me, gentlemen."

136. obey, to obey; dependent on I charge thee.

138. discover, show, relate.

139. manage, course and conduct.

144. as thou art true, I call upon you in the name of your justice.

149. spoke him fair, used fair words to him, tried to turn away his wrath by conciliatory words.

150. nice, trivial, petty; R. III. iii. 7. 175, "But the respects thereof are nice, and trivial." 150, 1. urged withal ... displeasure, and further pointed out how by quarrelling they would incur your deep displeasure.

153. take truce with, obtain peace; cp. K. J. iii. 1. 17, "With my vex'd spirits I cannot take a truce."

154. but that he tilts, and prevent him from tilting.

156. all as hot, equally passionate.

157, 8. beats ... aside, put aside, foils, the deadly thrust of Tybalt's sword.

159, 60. whose dexterity ... it, who dexterously turns it back upon him: Romeo he, for the redundant pronoun after a proper name, see Abb. § 243.

164. envious, malignant: hit the life ... Mercutio, mortally wounds Mercutio.

167. Who had ... revenge, into whose breast the thought of revenge had only just entered, i.e. on hearing of Mercutio's death.

173. Affection makes him false, his love for Romeo and his friend Mercutio makes him partial in his story.

174, 5. Some twenty ... life, i.e. it was no fair fight as Benvolio would make out, but a treacherous attack made upon Tybalt by a number of Romeo's followers.

179. Who now ... owe? who must be made to pay the price of his death?

181. His fault ... end, his fault (in taking upon him to avenge Mercutio's death instead of leaving punishment to the law) has merely ended that life which would have been cut short by the ordinary course of justice.

184. I have ... proceeding, the course which the hatred between you has taken has affected me personally.

185. My blood, he who was my blood relation; cp. J. C. i. 1. 56, "And do you now strew flowers in his way That comes in triumph over Pompey's blood?" i.e. Pompey's sons: a-bleeding, the prefix is the preposition on, i.e. in the act of bleeding; as in Oth. iv. 1. 188, "I would have him nine years a-killing." See Abb. § 24.

186. amerce, fine, mulct, punish; Lat. merces, reward, used in the sense of punishment: strong, heavy, powerful in the effect it will produce.

187. the loss. Allen conjectures 'this loss.'

189. purchase out, buy out, redeem; so K. J. iii. 1. 164, "Dreading the curse that money may buy out"; out having the intensive force of doing a thing completely.

192. attend our will, be observant of our decision.

193. pardoning, when it pardons.


How to cite the explanatory notes:

Shakespeare, William. Romeo and Juliet. Ed. K. Deighton. London: Macmillan, 1916. Shakespeare Online. 20 Feb. 2010. (date when you accessed the information) < >.


Related Articles

 Themes in Romeo and Juliet
 Annotated Balcony Scene, Act 2
 Blank Verse and Rhyme in Romeo and Juliet
 Sources for Romeo and Juliet

 Romeo and Juliet Plot Summary (Acts 1 and 2)
 Romeo and Juliet Plot Summary (Acts 3, 4 and 5)
 Romeo and Juliet: Teacher's Notes and Classroom Discussion
 The Five Stages of Plot Development in Romeo and Juliet

 How to Pronounce the Names in Romeo and Juliet
 Introduction to Romeo
 Introduction to Juliet
 Introduction to Mercutio
 Introduction to The Nurse

 Shakespeare on Fate
 Famous Quotations from Romeo and Juliet
 Stage History of Romeo and Juliet
 Romeo and Juliet Essay Topics
 Romeo and Juliet: Q & A
 All About Queen Mab