MERCUTIO I am hurt.
A plague a’both houses! I am sped.
Is he gone and hath nothing?
BENVOLIO What, art thou hurt?
MERCUTIO Ay, ay, a scratch, a scratch, marry, ’tis enough.
Where is my page? Go, villain, fetch a surgeon. [Exit Page] (3.1.82-86)
It’s just so fast. Tybalt’s off, with his gang (and this is a scene where having scared supernumeraries to scatter, or to watch in dawning, awful comprehension can pay off) and then Mercutio sends his page (we have to imagine a terrified child, although in modern productions more likely played by an adult actor as a servant or hanger-on) for a surgeon, the usual go-to for a wound, as opposed to a doctor. Mercutio is frightened too, his lines short, factual, disbelieving: I am hurt. I am sped, I’m done for. And – is that really it, so fast, has Tybalt got away unhurt? Benvolio can’t believe it either, not least because Mercutio doesn’t usually talk like this, because he usually spouts wild extravagant nonsense; this doesn’t sound like him, is something wrong? Anyway, it’s been so fast, so confused; is this just another game, a dare, a joke? Mercutio rallies: a scratch, a scratch, making light of it – and then that uncharacteristically mild oath, marry, ’tis enough. All his statements are unequivocal, fatalistic: I am hurt. I am sped. ’Tis enough. He summons the servant, who will obey him immediately and unquestioningly, and desperately tries to do something, anything, to save his life. And, in the midst of it, for the first – but not the last – time, he pronounces his terrible curse: A plague a’both houses!