Villain, Where Art Thou?
Ladies and Gentleman of the jury there is not a villain in the play, "Romeo and Juliet." As Northrop Frye states in his review, ". . . in this play there doesn't seem to be the clearly marked villain that we find in so many tragedies." (Frye 28) This paper presents the facts that prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that Frye's assertion is correct because the definition of a villain is a wicked or vile person. Mercutio, the nurse, Tybalt, and Romeo like a red herring seem like villains and could trick careless readers into believing that they are villains.
Mercutio's wit overshadows his violent side. "O calm, dishonorable, vile submission! Alla stoca carries it away. Tybalt, you ratcatcher, will you walk?" (Shakespeare Act 3. Sc. 1. Ln. 74-76) This quote shows that Mercutio becomes so disgusted with Romeo that he challenges Tybalt in a duel. A villain acts with wickedness, Mercutio however, acts with honor because he would rather die then disgrace the Montague name. The nurse, can be thought of as Juliet's evil conscious tempting her as can be seen in this quote. The nurse says, ". . . I think it best you married with the County. O, he's a lovely gentleman! Romeo's a dishclout to him." (Shakespeare Act 3 sc. 5. Ln. 230-232) This quote shows the immorality and bad judgement the nurse uses to tell Juliet to forget her present husband and get married again. One has to remember though, that the nurse is of a lower social class and she thinks she has Juliet best
interest in mind. Therefore, Mercutio and the nurse are not villains and the examination moves to Tybalt.
Tybalt while having problems is a genuinely good man. Tybalt writes a letter to Romeo challenging him in a fight, because Romeo came uninvited to the Capulet party. This action shows Tybalt's hatred for all Montagues. The fact that he thinks Romeo should die for crashing a party is extreme. Tybalt should have listened to his uncle and forgotten about the party altogether, however, he grew up probably seeing events like this happening so responds in kind. "What, drawn and talk of peace? I hate the word As I hate hell, all Montagues, and thee. Have at thee, coward!" (Shakespeare Act 1 sc.1. Ln. 71-73) Tybalt is a hardened warrior and what he does best is fight. This is not villainous, since he grew up fighting, and he does it for honor. The final analysis has to be of Romeo as he kills two people and then takes his own life.
Is the hero also a villain; no. Romeo kills Tybalt. Romeo is so filled with rage because of Mercutio's death that he does anything to kill Tybalt. One has to point out though that it is Tybalt who finds Romeo and starts fighting again. Romeo also kills Paris. Yes, this a violent crime but in no way is it pre meditated or even wanted. Romeo is seeking his "dead" wife Juliet at the tomb, when Paris appears. Romeo also gives Paris a warning and tells him to leave.
Examination is complete. There is nothing left to do but rest the case because it has been proven that there is no villain in this play. Even though Mercutio, the nurse, Tybalt, and Romeo might seem like villains they are not. Some might say the feud is the villain and this is almost true because it lives off death and hurts everything and everyone. The only problem is that the feud is not a person. The Montagues and Capulets can end the feud any time they are willing to put there differences aside.