Benvolio First Impression

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Benvolio Swordfighting
Benvolio Swordfighting

Benvolio appears to be a kind and thoughtful character throughout the beginning of the play, however it is revealed that he is also a very capable swordsman/ fighter, and is a very trusted friend of Romeo. He is also portrayed as more cautious and wary than Romeo.

"See where he comes.So please you, step aside. I'll know his grievence or be much denied" (1.1.159-160)
Benvolio with his friend Romeo
Benvolio with his friend Romeo


"What sadness lengthens Romeo's hours..." (1.1.168)

"Part fools! Put up your swords. You know not what to do..." (1.1.65-66)

"Be ruled by me. Forget to think of her." (1.1.233)

"We'll measure them a measure then be gone..." (1.4.10)

Benvolio is portrayed as more down-to-earth than Romeo, trying to help him get his mind off of his unrequited love by saying there are plenty of other beautiful women he can meet at the party. While Romeo is consumed in poetic romance, Benvolio seems to be considering things more practically. He shows that he is friendly with Romeo by trying to help him. However, he isn't entirely wise, since he suggests going to the party, which he should know could cause trouble. Benvolio also appears as an educated dancer, given that he goes to the Capulet's masked party. According to Act 1, Scene 1, Benvolio appears to be a trusted friend of Lord Montague, given that Montague asked him where Romeo was, showing that the two characters are well acquainted.

I Am What I Say


Quotation
Paraphrased
Significance
Other Notes
Part, fools!
Put up your swords; you know not what you do. 1.1.65-66
Split up, fools!
Sheathe your swords; you have no idea what to do.
This shows how Benvolio is a cautious person, one not wanting to start a battle for no good cause.
This occurs right before Tybalt, Abram, Gregory, Sampson and the others begin to fight in the 1st scene. All of the characters at this point are very anxious to fight their opponents.
I do but keep the peace. Put up thy sword, or manage it to part these men with me. 1.1.69-70
I keep the peace (I don't want to fight). Either put away your sword or fight me here and now.
This shows how Benvolio knows his skill as a fighter and is confident enough to challenge a trained swordsman.
Benvolio and Tybalt then fight brutally against each other for a few minutes before the Prince and the other nobles arrive.
See where he comes. So please you, step aside. I'll know his grievance or be much denied. 1.1.159-160
Look, he here comes. Please leave. Either I will find out the cause of his distress or will be denied the knowledge.
This shows how Benvolio is authentically worried about Romeo and the state of which he is in.
Romeo suddenly enters right after the Montagues and Benvolio have a chat about Romeo's condition and how he has been grieving for a while, taking the 3 of them by surprise.
Alas, that love, so gentle in his view,
Should be so tyrannous and rough in proof! 1.1.174-175
The love which Romeo finds so gentle and warm is actually binding and evil in real life!
This shows how Benvolio realizes how love can seem really important and special at first, but can force a person to do things that they don't want to do.
It's interesting how throughout this monologue scene, Romeo is going on about Rosaline, whom he forgets quite quickly later in the act, instead of Juliet which the audience would expect.
A right fair mark, fair coz, is soonest hit. 1.1.215
A target in plain sight, my dear cousin, is hit the quickest.
This shows how Benvolio knows that Romeo is very much in love and is indirectly stating that Romeo falls in love very easily and quickly.
At this point in the scene Benvolio is talking to Romeo about Rosaline and stating how Romeo has fallen head over heels in love with her, not for his own good.
Be ruled by me. Forget to think of her. 1.1.233
I advise you to stop thinking of her.
This shows how Benvolio is aware of the apparent "agony" Romeo is going through weeping over his love Rosaline, and that forgetting her is the best thing for him to do.
At this point in the scene Benvolio is trying to dissuade Romeo about Rosaline, and is telling him that there are plenty of other really special women out there.
I'll pay that doctrine or else die in debt. 1.1.247
I accept the challenge of trying to help you forget about Rosaline or die trying to meet the obligation.
This shows how Benvolio truly is serious about getting Romeo to stop worrying about Rosaline and resume his normal lifestyle, since it's obviously taking a toll on Romeo.
At this point in the scene Benvolio is getting tired of Romeo's moaning and simply tells him bluntly that he will help him get rid of the thought of Rosaline since it's obviously hindering his life.
Away, begone. The sport is at its best. 1.5.133
Let us go. The situation is at its climax (reference to a proverb Romeo spoke of earlier at 1.4.39).
This shows how Benvolio now is worried about getting found out and reprimanded for their unauthorized intrusion to the Capulet's party. This shows that he knows when and how to get out of tight situations.
At this point Benvolio is trying to get out of the party; the 3 of them have had their fun, but now it's time for the trio to leave without getting caught and punished severely.
Compare her face with some that I shall show, And I will make thee think thy swan a crow.
1.2.93-94
Compare Rosaline's face with another girl's at the party, and you will then think she is ugly in comparison, like a crow, rather than a beautiful swan.
This shows Benvolio's more rational, practical way of thinking, as opposed to Romeo's romantic emotions. Benvolio wants to help Romeo, but it's clear here that there's contrast between him and Romeo in how they think of Rosaline and how they think of romance.
Benvolio is trying to convince Romeo that Rosaline isn't all that great and that he should get over her by seeing some pretty girls at the party.
Blind is his love and best befits the dark. 2.1.35
His love is blind (ie. he can think of nothing other than love), and his love is best suited to the darkness.
This shows how Benvolio is aware and attentive of Romeo's personality, and knows that he's probably running around after Juliet, instead of being rational and waiting to see her.
During this scene Benvolio and Mercutio are searching in vain for Romeo, whom having just left the party has run after Juliet.
Go, then; for 'tis in vain
To seek him here that means not to be found. 2.1.45-46
Go ahead and search for him. You won't find him here.
This shows how Benvolio has given up trying to find Romeo, because he knows that Romeo's love is so great, and that even if they bind him or seize him, he would still go to Juliet. So in this sense Benvolio is showing restraint and is deciding to not interfere with the activities of Romeo, showing that he's practical, but not super driven either.
At this point in the scene Mercutio and Benvolio have just about given up trying to find Romeo, and decide to head back to their manor.
This wind you talk of blows us from ourselves. Supper is done, and we shall come too late. 1.4.111-112
The dreams you just spoke of (reference to earlier quote from Mercutio) can change a man greatly. We're late for dinner.
This shows how Benvolio is more down-to earth, and cares less about these philosophical musings than Romeo or Mercutio do. This also shows that he cares about food in his stomach more than idle thoughts in his brain.
During this scene Romeo, Mercutio, and Benvolio are all talking preparing for the party later that night, and at this point they're all talking about certain dreams and their meanings.
O noble Prince, I can discover all of the unlucky manage of this fatal brawl. 3.1.150-151
O great Prince, I can reveal the horrible course of this deadly fight.
This shows how Benvolio is respectful of the law, but doesn't want to give away the whereabouts of Romeo either. He is very loyal to his friend, because he knows that it wasn't his fault. He tries to defend Romeo this way, saying that his actions were provoked by the death of Mercutio.
During this scene Romeo has just fled and Benvolio is arguing that the Prince not punish Romeo.
Romeo, away, begone! The citizens are up, and Tybalt slain. Stand not amazed. The Prince will doom thee death if thou art taken. Hence be gone, away. 3.1.138-141
Run away Romeo! The citizens have been stirred and Tybalt is dead. Don't just stand there stupefied. If you're caught, the Prince will sentence you to death. Therefore, run away!
This particular quote shows how Benvolio is really worried and scared for his death, because he is essentially dead in that one instant; if he stays he'll certainly be condemned for death, and if he leaves he won't be much better. Yet Benvolio will continue to support him and defend him nevertheless.
During this part Romeo has just killed Tybalt, and Benvolio is shouting for him to run away quickly before people get there.
Thou wouldst else have made thy tale large. 2.4.99
Otherwise you would have created a really big and untrue lie.
This shows how Benvolio is amused with how Romeo thoroughly beat Mercutio at a battle of wits, yet also is tired of their silly antics, and just wants to concentrate.
During this scene Mercutio and Romeo are engaging in a battle of wits, when Benvolio steps in to stop them from quite going at each others throats.
An if 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. 3.1.32-34
If I were so good as arguing as you are, anyone should buy the fee to my life, ignorant of what I do, for one hour and 15 minutes.
This shows how Benvolio is mocking Mercutio stating that he could die so easily because of all of the quarrels and fights he gets into, showing that he has a humorous side to him, not merely the stoic and reserved side.
During the beginning of this scene Mercutio and Benvolio are talking about the weather and how Mercutio gets into so many fights.
If we meet we shall not 'scape a brawl 3.l.3
We can't avoid any fights today.
This shows how Benvolio is loving, and does not want to hurt people, and thus does not want to fight, yet he's also practical knowing that if he and Mercutio continue this approach towards violence they will eventually get into trouble.
This foreshadows the fight between Mercutio and Tybalt.
Romeo, that spoke him fair, bid him bethink, how nice the quarrel was. 3.1.161-162
Romeo, who said nice things to him, and made him think it was a good fight.
This shows how when Benvolio was talking to the prince he was trying to persuade him to not kill Romeo, showing that he's a very loyal friend.
This is what causes the prince to exile Romeo instead of killing him.

Benvolio's Roles

Act 1

Benvolio has a crucial role in setting the plot in motion, getting Romeo to go to the party, where he meets Juliet, and where Tybalt becomes angry with Romeo.

Scene 1- During this scene Benvolio enters shortly after Abram, and although at first he tries he tries to calm down the incited citizens, he fights Tybalt after being provoked by him, an the Capulets and Montagues fight. After the Prince breaks the fight up, he talks with Montague and Lady Montague about Romeo's condition, and how he snuck away early in the morning. He then converses with Romeo, stating that he will help him get over his rejection by Rosaline. He then exits.

Scene 2- Romeo and Benvolio are simply walking along in this scene, when an illiterate servingman asks them to deliver invitations to friends of Capulet for the party they will be hosting that tonight. Benvolio persuades Romeo to sneak in with him at the party, and then they exit to deliver the invitations.

Scene 4- Benvolio, Mercutio, and Romeo walk to the party which the Capulets are hosting. While Mercutio and Romeo discuss dreams, Benvolio remains removed from the conversation for the most part, simply just continuing along the path silently.

Scene 5- Benvolio appears only briefly during this scene at the end, encouraging the trio to depart from the party. During this scene you assume that Benvolio is merely dancing and talking with other people at the party. The trio then exits from the party.

Act 2

Scene 1- Benvolio and Mercutio search in vain for Romeo after the party, however eventually give up knowing that Romeo will just continue to evade them. Both of them then exit.

Scene 4- At the beginning of this scene, Mercutio and Benvolio are talking about Romeo, and also about Tybalt. When Romeo finally reappears, Benvolio watches while Romeo and Mercutio engage in a battle of wits. He later speaks to the Nurse with Romeo about Juliet. He then departs from the scene.

Act 3

Scene 1- Benvolio enters with Mercutio stating that they should retire back to the manor since the day is very hot. While walking and talking down a street, they encounter Petruchio and Tybalt. After Romeo refuses to fight with Tybalt, Tybalt starts another brawl in which Benvolio, Mercutio, and other men fight. Mercutio is fatally wounded by Tybalt and dies, inciting Romeo to kill Tybalt. Benvolio encourages Romeo to run away, and at the end of the scene he recounts the fight to the Prince and the Capulets. This is the last scene in which Benvolio appears in the book.


Final Assignment

This link leads you to a song that is an accurate description of Romeo's relationship with Benvolio:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6iWrIfEgFlQ
A really concerned friend who always helps out
Good Sword fighter, but not violent

Caring, intellectual, almost a brother

...Existential... Determined...

Yet humorous... perhaps even mocking at times?

Cautiously daring... daringly cautious...

Loyal to many things: law, family, the woeful Romeo...

Part of the Trio: The lovestruck wonder, the arrogant fighter, and the moderate citizen

How can he be reserved in times of crisis?!

The watcher, not the doer... the listener, listening to the speaker of Cupid...

He leaves, but will he be remembered is the question...


He did everything, yet he did nothing

Au revior mes amis... Adieu, adieu... external image italy-verona.jpg
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