English Literature / Drama GCSE: Romeo and Juliet - Act 3, Scene 1 - The Fight

Young men from the Montague and Capulet families fight with tragic consequences.

Romeo tries to stop the brawl but Tybalt fatally wounds Mercutio.

Mercutio dies cursing both their families.

This short film is from the BBC series, Shakespeare Unlocked.

Teacher Notes

This is a key scene which marks the turning point in the play from which a series of tragic events lead to Romeo and Juliet's ultimate demise.

The scene enforces the themes that run throughout the play.

Remind students that the contrasting themes of love and hate run through the play. How are they highlighted in this scene?

Ask students to read through the scene and highlight all the words that relate to love in one colour, and those which relate to hate in another.

Then ask students to look in detail at the exchange between Tybalt and Romeo starting from the line, “Romeo, the love I bear thee...”.

Why does Romeo say that he loves Tybalt? What is the effect of Romeo's 'love' on the scene? And on Mercutio?

In this scene, although Mercutio is mortally wounded, he jokes about his injury.

Discuss with students how they would react to an injury like this.

Why does Mercutio apparently take it so lightly and how does this affect Romeo and Benvolio's reactions to his state?

Why do they think Shakespeare chose to put in these jokes?

What does it suggest about the environment of Verona and the way its young men behave?

Ask students to discuss Mercutio cursing both houses.

What effect does it have on the other characters, as well as on us, the audience, when he curses Romeo's family as well as Tybalt's?

Curriculum Notes

This short film is suitable for teaching GCSE English literature and drama in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and National 4/ 5 in Scotland.

More from Shakespeare Unlocked - Romeo and Juliet

Act 3, Scene 1 - Death of Mercutio (workshop)
Act 3, Scene 1 - Spoiling for a fight (workshop)
Act 3, Scene 5 - Juliet is abandoned (workshop)
About the 2011 RSC production
Act 2, Scene 2 - Juliet's soliloquy (workshop)
Act 2, Scene 2 - Lovers unite (workshop)
Act 2, Scene 2 - Romeo's soliloquy (workshop)
Act 2, Scene 2 - The Balcony