Scorn, spite, and no rapier! (1.5.53-62)

TYBALT          This, by his voice, should be a Montague.

                        Fetch me my rapier, boy.                  [Exit Page]

                                                            What dares the slave

                        Come hither, covered with an antic face,

                        To fleer and scorn at our solemnity?

                        Now by the stock and honour of my kin,

                        To strike him dead I hold it not a sin.

CAPULET        Why, how now, kinsman, wherefore storm you so?

TYBALT          Uncle, this is a Montague, our foe:

                        A villain that is hither come in spite,

                        To scorn at our solemnity this night. (1.5.53-62)

Just in case we’d forgotten that there’s a feud on, here’s Tybalt, clearly not about to forget all his troubles on the dance-floor, but rather looking for a fight. A nice note that they’ve left their rapiers off for the party (some rapiers had blades many feet long – not at all conducive to safe dancing). Tybalt seems to be angry all the time: he addresses his page as boy (fine; sirrah would be more cheerful, perhaps?) and describes Romeo as a slave and a villain. Tybalt is anxious about status (maybe because he doesn’t have his ‘rapier’ and he’s Over-Compensating?) He regards Romeo’s presence as a personal affront as much as an insult to his family honour (he’s partly insulting Romeo in class terms); he assumes that to do such a thing – gate-crash a party – is an act of spite and scorn, rather than a bit of a laugh, a dare, an adventure with the boys. (The suggestion is that, were Tybalt to do such a thing, scorn would be his only possible motivation.) It helpfully confirms that Romeo’s wearing a mask: Tybalt can recognise his voice, even though he’s wearing an antic face. Even Capulet, who will prove to be well capable of a decent bit of storming, thinks that Tybalt’s being over the top: what’s up, what are you getting so worked up about?

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