To begin Act 1 Scene 4 Romeo, Benvolio and Mercutio are making their way to the Capulet household concealed by masks due to Romeo wishing to see Rosalind, who will be at the party, and Mercutio teasing him for being a hopeless lover. This precedes Mercutio’s famous Queen Mab speech describing a small fairy that brings a dream to people as they sleep.
His speech shows Mercutio to be an intelligent, witty and slightly cynical in ways.
The scene, whilst seemingly pointless due to the fact that we know where the Montagues are going already and about Romeo’s melancholy feelings, is a crucial scene to the play due to the foreshadowing nearing the end of the scene. The scene also paints the perfect picture of Mercutio’s personality whether it be his intelligence, his wittiness or his capricious ways. Mercutio is evidently presented in a deliberately contrasted way to the lovestruck Romeo and he seems to have a more physical view of love shown by ‘If love is rough with you, be rough with love / Prick love for pricking and you beat love down.’ it also shows him as an anti-romantic in many ways. Furthermore, this is an example of him teasing Romeo with his more sexual view of things again showing him to be a quick thinking, witty character.
Nearer the end of his speech Mercutio’s more cynical, menacing ways are shown: ‘A soldier’s neck / And then he dreams of cutting foreign throats’
This gives the imagery of the dainty fairy riding an empty hazelnut for a chariot at the beginning of the speech a dark twist as she turns into a ‘hag’ teaching maidens some of the more inappropriate things in life. This child’s fairy tale has become something darker, though it is an accurate portrayal of society. His speech touches on a number of the play’s opposing themes such as love and hate, fantasy and reality, idealism and cynicism during the second half of the Queen Mab speech. He does treat the dreams in the same way he approaches the theme of love with wit and describes both as fantasy
Mercutio’s intelligence is often shown by the fact that he jokes around with Benvolio and Romeo showing that they may not understand if he doesn’t use jokes and metaphors to help them understand. Whilst talking with Romeo about Rosalind ‘If love be rough with you, be rough with love’ showing his witty, jovial view on everything there’s also his play on words with ‘prick love for pricking’
The Queen Mab speech portrays a colorful description of a magical bringer of dreams, and it is presented by an equally colorful character who wants his friend to see the error of a foolish faith in dreams. Although the speech becomes dark and menacing at the end, we sense that Mercutio’s passion is a result of his caring for Romeo enough to want him to join the fun. We learn more about Mercutio himself than we do about Queen Mab, that tiny fairy who flies each night over your bed and brings you all those strange dreams.