Romeo and Juliet

Mercutio Character Analysis

Read our modern English translation.
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.

Mercutio Quotes in Romeo and Juliet

The Romeo and Juliet quotes below are all either spoken by Mercutio or refer to Mercutio. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Love and Violence Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Simon & Schuster edition of Romeo and Juliet published in 2004.
Act 1, Scene 4 Quotes

Romeo: I dream'd a dream to-night.
Mercutio: And so did I.
Romeo: Well, what was yours?
Mercutio: That dreamers often lie.

Related Characters: Romeo (speaker), Mercutio (speaker)
Page Number: 1.4.53-56
Explanation and Analysis:
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Act 3, Scene 1 Quotes

Romeo: Courage, man; the hurt cannot be much.
Mercutio: No, '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.

Related Characters: Romeo (speaker), Mercutio (speaker)
Page Number: 3.1.99-102
Explanation and Analysis:
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Mercutio Character Timeline in Romeo and Juliet

The timeline below shows where the character Mercutio appears in Romeo and Juliet. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1, Scene 4
Love and Violence Theme Icon
Language and Wordplay Theme Icon
Romeo, Mercutio, Benvolio, and several of their house’s men enter wearing party masks and carrying torches. They... (full context)
Love and Violence Theme Icon
Fate Theme Icon
Individuals vs. Society Theme Icon
Language and Wordplay Theme Icon
Mercutio says he had a dream the night before, too—he and Romeo have both been visited... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 1
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Family and Duty Theme Icon
...his “heart” is still inside. He hides himself against the orchard wall as Benvolio and Mercutio enter, searching for him. Mercutio calls out for Romeo, begging him to make himself seen,... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 4
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Benvolio and Mercutio enter, discussing how Romeo did not come home the night before. They believe he is... (full context)
Love and Violence Theme Icon
Language and Wordplay Theme Icon
Romeo greets Mercutio and Benvolio, and Mercutio accuses Romeo of giving them both “the slip” the night before.... (full context)
Language and Wordplay Theme Icon
...and Peter enter and greet the Montague men. The nurse wishes them good morning, but Mercutio tells her that “the bawdy hand of the dial is now upon the prick of... (full context)
Individuals vs. Society Theme Icon
Language and Wordplay Theme Icon
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The nurse tells Romeo how little she cared for Mercutio’s “saucy” jokes and chides Peter for remaining silent in the face of Mercutio’s impropriety. Peter... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 1
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Individuals vs. Society Theme Icon
Language and Wordplay Theme Icon
Benvolio, Mercutio, and Mercutio’s page are out walking around Verona, but Benvolio begs Mercutio to lead them... (full context)
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Tybalt, Petruchio, and some other Capulets approach. Benvolio warns Mercutio, but Mercutio is unconcerned by their presence. Tybalt approaches them and says he wants a... (full context)
Love and Violence Theme Icon
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Individuals vs. Society Theme Icon
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...in fact loves the Capulet man, whose surname he loves “as dearly as [his] own.” Mercutio, angered by Romeo’s “vile submission,” draws his sword. Tybalt draws his, too, and though Romeo... (full context)
Fate Theme Icon
Individuals vs. Society Theme Icon
Family and Duty Theme Icon
After Tybalt and the other Capulets leave, Benvolio and Romeo ask Mercutio if he’s badly hurt. He insists at first that he’s suffered just “a scratch”—but moments... (full context)
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Individuals vs. Society Theme Icon
Language and Wordplay Theme Icon
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Benvolio enters and announces that Mercutio has died. Romeo, enraged, states that “this day’s black fate” will begin a great “woe”... (full context)
Individuals vs. Society Theme Icon
...fool,” quickly runs away. The citizens’ watch enters, looking to arrest the man who slayed Mercutio, and Benvolio points out Tybalt’s body on the ground. The prince enters with Montague, Capulet,... (full context)