The Role of Comic Characters in Romeo&Juliet

In Shakespeare’s tragedy Romeo and Juliet, Romeo and Juliet fall madly in love during a time of their families’ feud. They are wed in holy matrimony by Friar Laurence, but when Juliet’s father Capulet insists that Juliet marry Paris, a rich and handsome relative of the prince, Juliet refuses. This causes the two lovers to be joined by Death in the burial chamber of her ancestors. Through the use of comedy through Mercutio and the Nurse, Shakespeare explores the relationship between comedy and tragedy in Romeo and Juliet.
    Mercutio is Romeo’s witty, quick-tempered friend whose death functions as the turning point from comedy to tragedy. When Mercutio and Benvolio call for Romeo after the party at Capulet’s house, Mercutio tries to induce Romeo into coming out from hiding by describing Rosaline’s beauty: “I conjure thee by Rosaline’s bright eyes, /By her high forehead, and her scarlet lip, /By her fine foot, straight leg, and quivering thigh, /And the demesnes that there adjacent lie” (2.1.20-23). This arises from his ignorance of Romeo’s new love. He does not realize that Romeo has fallen in love with Juliet and forgotten totally about Rosaline, with whom he was more in love with the idea of being in love than actually in love with her. This ignorance, although initially comical, ultimately induces him to be drawn into the fatal duel with Tybalt. Even facing death when fatally stabbed, Mercutio jests and puns at his wound: “No, ‘tis not so deep as a well, nor so wide as a church door, but ‘tis enough. ‘Twill serve. Ask for me tomorrow and you shall find me a grave man” (3.1.100-103). Although highly ironic and comical, ultimately this speech evolves Mercutio into a tragic character and acts as the pivot point from the comic to the tragic sections of the play. After his death, the tragedy of Romeo and of Juliet unfolds as Romeo is propelled to seek revenge for Mercutio’s death, slays Tybalt, and is banished from Verona by the Prince.
    The Nurse’s comedy comes...