TYBALT          What, art thou drawn among these heartless hinds?

Turn thee, Benvolio, look upon thy death.

BENVOLIO      I do but keep the peace. Put up thy sword,

Or manage it to part these men with me.

TYBALT          What, drawn, and talk of peace? I hate the word,

As I hate hell, all Montagues, and thee.

Have at thee, coward.

[They fight.] (1.1.57-63SD)


Tybalt’s arrival brings a further escalation. On one level he immediately personalizes the conflict, by naming Benvolio. But he also makes it both more serious – for Tybalt, there is no possibility of peace-making – and less rational; it’s cold hatred, directed at all Montagues because they are Montagues. The initially comic servingmen disappear, at least from the dialogue, even though the terms of engagement remain similar: what’s at stake is honour, implicitly masculine honour, and also, now, class: both Benvolio and Tybalt recognize that they are the social superiors, the masters of Gregory, Sampson, Abram and the rest, but whereas Tybalt sees that as a reason to taunt Benvolio (while hind can mean domestic servant, by the late sixteenth century it’s more commonly used to refer to an agricultural labourer), Benvolio assumes that Tybalt, like him a gentleman, will regard rank as responsibility, and see it as his duty to keep the peace and part these men. But Tybalt will have none of it, and the fight recommences, presumably with rapiers and daggers now, as well as swords and bucklers.

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