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Tybalt


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TYBALT: What, art thou drawn among these heartless hinds?
[Act 1, scene 1] Like Benvolio's first words on stage, Tybalt's costume and iambic pentameter would also establish him as a member of the nobility. Unlike Benvolio, though, Tybalt's first lines are likely delivered with mocking disdain. The rhetorical question is disbelieving (he cannot believe Benvolio is fighting with the servants), delighted (he wants an excuse to fight Benvolio - a noble enemy who rarely fights), and insulting. The direct address "thou" was used when addressing someone familiar but also can be disrespectful (rather than the formal 'you' or the politely familiar 'thee'): Tybalt talks to Benvolio like he's a servant, not a fellow noble. The adjective "heartless" means at once both 'cowardly' (lacking 'heart'/'coeur'/'courage') and 'lacking strong male leadership' (where a 'hart' is another name for a 'stag' and a 'hind' is a female deer). There's also a hint of calling them arses ('hinds). Tybalt is, essentially, mockingly suprised that Benvolio - who he knows well as a peace-keeper - is here with his sword out amongst, as he puts it, cowadly, men-less women.
TYBALT: Turn thee, Benvolio, look upon thy death.
[Act 1, scene 1] In the second of Tybalt's lines on stage, Shakespeare establishes him as a trouble-causer and likely antagonist for the tragedy. Like Benvolio, he speaks in pentameter and with a pair of imperatives, but 'part' and 'put up' have been replaced with 'turn' and 'look upon'. If emphasis is put on the first syllable then the commanding tone is emphasised. However, if pentameter, then the second syllable (the familiar, even intimate, and slightly insulting 'thee') is emphasised, singling out Benvolio for Tybalt's personal vendetta. Depending on how the actor gestures, the noun phrase (and use of metonym) "thy death" either refers to the sword(s) Tybalt holds, or Tybalt himself. I prefer the latter, creating the idea that Shakespeare has Tybalt consider himself Benvolio's own personal Grim Reaper and establishing the confident hubris (blind pride and ego) that will kill him later.
TYBALT: What, drawn, and talk of peace! I hate the word, / As I hate hell, all Montagues, and thee: / Have at thee, coward!
[Act 1, scene 1] Tybalt's response to Benvolio's request to help him break up the fight. Shakespeare confirms, here, that Tybalt will - until his death at least - be our tragic antagonist. He "hates" civil "peace" and views the concept as merely a "word". Scarier still, Shakespeare establishes Tybalt's hatred to Montagues to have a zealot-like motivation. He hates "all Montagues" as much as he hates "hell", which in a Catholic country (Italy) creates the idea that Tybalt views the slaughtering of Montagues as his Christain duty: or at least talks that way. Like a lot of extremists, he uses faith as an excuse for violence.
BENVOLIO: The fiery Tybalt, with his sword prepared
[Act 1, scene 1] A further characterisation of Tybalt as Benvolio describes the fight to Lord Montague. The adjective is an appropriate one with its connotations of wild destruction.
TYBALT: This, by his voice, should be a Montague. / Fetch me my rapier, boy.
[Act 1, scene 5] Shakespeare intensifies Tybalt's role as our likely tragic antagonist set to disrupt Romeo and Juliet's love. Disturbingly, Tybalt seems so obsessed with conflict that he can tell his enemy "by his voice" (they're from the same place, remember, so an accent wouldn't give them away); Romeo's presence is enough to immediately demand violence for this character, setting in motion the crisis of Act 3, scene 1.
TYBALT: by the stock and honour of my kin, / To strike him dead, I hold it not a sin.
[Act 1, scene 5] Shakespeare makes clear - for the second this act since claiming he hates "all Montagues" like he hates "hell" - that Tybalt takes the killing of Montagues as a near religious calling. He is a zealot with the danger of a religious fanatic and - though contextually a Catholic - is made to consider so little of Romeo that killing him wouldn't even be "a sin".
TYBALT: I will withdraw: but this intrusion shall / Now seeming sweet convert to bitter gall.
[Act 1, scene 5] After Capulet publically shames Tybalt for attempting to defy him, this aside from Shakespeare - heard only by the audience - creates a sense of inevitable doom for audiences watching the action unfold. This promise of revenge is delivered a single line before Romeo and Juliet first speak to one another, setting the trap that will snap closed in Act 3, scene 1. Shakespeare's reference to "gall" - that bitter, yellow vomit in the very bottom of your stomach - promises that any sweetness to follow will be ruined later, creating a terrible sense of dramatic irony for when the lovers meet in the next moment.
TYBALT: Gentlemen, good den: a word with one of you.
[Act 3, scene 1] Unlike the Tybalt Shakespeare gives us in Act 1, here the character is polite and reserved. Most likely, though, the actor is saying these lines through gritted teeth. Tybalt's hatred for Montagues is clear, but now entirely directed toward Romeo. Remember, for contrast, the last two times Tybalt and Benvolio were on stage together (Act 1, scene 1; Act 1, scene 5). Here we have a character bottling up his fury and we expect it to burst out soon.
TYBALT: Romeo, the hate I bear thee can afford / No better term than this, - thou art a villain. […] therefore turn and draw.
[Act 3, scene 1] Like the old Tybalt of Act 1, scenes 1 and 5, this character throws around violent imperatives demanding violence. Unlike the earlier Tybalt, though, he is controlled. He wants Romeo to "draw" a sword rather than simply to "strike him dead" like in Act 1. This is a formal duel and we know from Act 2, scene 4 that Tybalt is trained and deadly in this type of fighting.
BENVOLIO: the unruly spleen / Of Tybalt deaf to peace
[Act 3, scene 1] Later in his summary of the fight to the Prince, Shakespeare has Benvolio describe Tybalt as having an "unruly spleen" (the organ that Renaissance doctors thought, wrongly, contributed to anger) and give him a final title: "deaf to peace". Remember that we hear these words rather than see them, so the homophone 'deaf' and 'death' is deliberate: to be 'deaf' to peace will kill it. Another warning from Shakespeare and a confirmation that there's no going back to the happiness of the scene before.