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How Aggression Abolishes Civility In Romeo And Juliet By William Shakespeare

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People’s actions are orchestrated by their traits and their feelings, which can sometimes create extreme results of a conflict. In the play Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare, many characters have conflicts driven by their personality traits. Tybalt is one character that follows this pattern. Tybalt has aggression and this shows up during conflicts. His aggressive side shows particularly against the Montague family, a family the Capulets have had a feud with for many decades. Romeo and Juliet are star-crossed lovers that are prevented from pursuing their love because of the family feud between the Capulets and the Montagues. Romeo and Juliet try to work around the feud to be together, but their efforts ultimately result in both of their deaths. Tybalt is a Capulet and a cousin of Juliet. Tybalt hates the Montagues because that is how he was raised. Tybalt’s aggressive side leads to out of control bursts and him quickly getting angered. Conflicts where Tybalt’s aggression shows through include wanting to throw Romeo out of the Capulet party, fighting Mercutio, and internal conflict. One of the first conflicts with Tybalt in the play arises at a Capulet party.

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Capulet hosts a party so his daughter Juliet and a potential husband to her can meet. Romeo comes to the party in hopes of seeing Rosaline, a girl he is in love with. Romeo is at a risk coming to the party because it is a Capulet party where Montagues are not allowed. Tybalt recognizes Romeo by his voice and immediately is enraged. Tybalt proclaims, “Come hither, covered with an antic face,/ To fleer and scorn at our solemnity?/ Now, by the stock and honor of my kin,/ To strike him dead I hold it not a sin” (1. 5. 55-58). Tybalt’s hatred towards Romeo is so strong that he would kill him because he showed up at the party unannounced. Tybalt then says to Capulet, “Uncle, this is a Montague, our foe,/ A villain that is hither come in spite/ To scorn at our solemnity this night” (1. 5. 60-63). Tybalt hearing Romeo inspired hate within him. Tybalt strongly wants Romeo gone from the party because of his family’s name. This small interruption of Romeo coming to the party makes Tybalt more angry than anyone else because he despises Montagues and his aggression gets the best of him. The next conflict that Tybalt is a part of is a man vs. man conflict, a fight. The duel is between Mercutio, a close friend of Romeo, and Tybalt. A few Montagues and their friends are walking on the streets when they come across some Capulets, one of which is Tybalt. The groups start talking, but the calm conversation turns into poking fun at one another. The fight begins after Mercutio says, “O calm dishonourable, vile submission!/ Alla stoccata carries it away. (Draws his sword). /Tybalt, you ratcatcher, will you walk?” ( 3. 1. 44-46).

Mercutio challenges Tybalt to a fight. Tybalt is confused and asks why they would fight. Mercutio then replies with, “Good King of Cats, nothing but one of your nine lives, that I mean to make bold withal, and, as you shall use me hereafter, dry-beat the rest of the eight. Will you pluck your sword out of his pilcher by the ears?/ Make haste, lest mine be about your ears ere it be out” (3. 1. 47-49). Now, Mercutio is trying to get Tybalt to fight by saying he will win. This strategy makes Tybalt want to fight and prove to Mercutio he can not beat him. Tybalt and Mercutio fight while their friends ask them to stop before someone gets hurt. Tybalt’s aggression and determination force him to block out what his friends are saying. He will not stop fighting until one of them is pinned or injured. After a few minutes of swords clashing the two are pulled apart by their friends. What Mercutio’s friends are soon to find out is Mercutio was cut in the ribs by Tybalt’s blade. Tybalt’s aggression shows during the fight as ambition to win against Mercutio.

The last conflict Tybalt faces is the opponent in himself. Tybalt has to constantly control his actions because his tendency to become angry quickly has to be managed. He has trouble containing his emotions when he is mad. One way he copes with this difficulty is making insults and trying to hold back from physical violence. One example of his inner aggression showing as an insult is before the fight with Mercutio. Tybalt and Romeo are talking when Tybalt says, “‘Romeo, the love I bear thee can afford/ No better term than this: thou art a villain’ ‘Tybalt, the reason that I have to love thee/ Doth much excuse the appertaining rage/ To such greeting’” (3. 1. 32-34). Tybalt is insulting Romeo as a way to hold himself back from fighting him. Romeo, who does not possess excessive aggression, responds with saying he should feel rage from that insult, but puts it aside. When Mercutio challenges Tybalt to a fight, he can not resist because his built up anger forces him to fight. The two are fighting and Romeo does not want anyone to get hurt. Romeo says, “(Draws his sword) Draw, Benvolio. Beat down their weapons/ Gentlemen, for shame! Forbear this outrage. / Tybalt! Mercutio! The Prince expressly hath/ Forbidden bandying in Verona streets. / Hold, Tybalt!” (3. 1. 52-56). Romeo insists the two stop fighting before one of them is stabbed. Tybalt can not stop fighting because his built up anger prevents him from giving up. Another thing Tybalt struggles with is acting like a Gentleman. Romeo says their fight is a disgrace. Tybalt’s outbursts make him look bad, as well as his family. This factor weighs down on Tybalt because he struggles with his aggression and the consequences of releasing his anger look down on him and his family. Tybalt wanting to throw out Romeo from the party, fighting Mercutio, and his internal conflicts all are driven by his aggression. Tybalt’s aggressive side gets the best of him in many situations. His conflicts with Romeo are also driven by what society has told him about the Capulet and Montague families. He forces his anger into situations with Romeo because of the history between the families. Tybalt continuously struggles throughout the book to control his anger. When it gets out of hand, it usually ends up tarnishing his family’s reputation. To conclude, Tybalt’s aggression leads him to react with a fight response rather than a flight response when he is faced with conflict.

10 December 2020

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