Romeo’s best friend and kinsman to Prince Escalus. Mercutio is one of the play’s most dynamic and complex characters. Wild, frenetic, easygoing, and fun-loving, Mercutio’s manic energy, rambling stories, and razor-sharp wit masks a much darker core. Mercutio is quick with words and is one of the play’s most skilled masters of puns and wordplay—he is always ready with a scandalous joke or a bawdy tale, but deep down, the play suggests that Mercutio is long past tired of his role as Romeo’s jester. Mercutio’s quickness to fight rivals Tybalt’s hotheaded rage, and Mercutio often involves himself in brawls that shouldn’t concern him, always fighting on behalf of the Montagues. When once such fight with Tybalt ends with Tybalt fatally stabbing Mercutio, he attempts to play the wound off as a “scratch”—but as he succumbs to his wounds, he rails against the forces that have killed him, wishing “a plague [on] both [the] houses” of Montague and Capulet and revealing in his dying moments his deep contempt, frustration, and anger for the petty, ancient feud between them.