Act 1 Scene 4 is Romeo's last chance to turn around before meeting Juliet. It also introduces us to Mercutio, perhaps the funniest Shakespeare character of them all. This lesson will cover the summary of Act 1 Scene 4 of ''Romeo and Juliet.''
Recap: Scenes 1-3 in Romeo and Juliet
In the first three scenes of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, we have witnessed fighting between the Montagues and the Capulets, and we know that they hate each other. Like brawling-on-the-street hate each other. We've met Romeo Montague, one-half of the star-crossed lovers, and heard him lamenting over the beautiful but uninterested Rosaline. We learn Paris wants to marry Juliet Capulet, only 14, and we know Juliet isn't ready but her mother thinks she is. Most importantly, we know our star-crossed lovers are heading toward their pivotal meeting.
And no, it doesn't happen here. But it will, soon. Bard's Honor.
Act 1, Scene 4: Characters
Romeo Montague is the teenage hero of Romeo and Juliet. Romeo is a lover, as he talks of little else. Romeo, at this point in the play, is still obsessed with Rosaline, who doesn't return his affection.
Benvolio is Romeo's friend and cousin. He is a staunch supporter of the Montagues and tries hard to uphold his cousin's honor. Benvolio is committed to helping Romeo get over Rosaline.
Mercutio is one of Shakespeare's best-known characters. A good friend of both Romeo and Benvolio, he is quick-witted and quick-tempered.
Act 1, Scene 4: Summary
Romeo and his two BFFs, Benvolio (whom we know from the first scene) and Mercutio, (whom we are meeting for the first time) want to go to a party. So they don their masks and head off to the Capulet's mansion, hoping to have some fun and get poor Romeo's mind off the uncaring Rosaline.
Romeo worries aloud that they will be discovered as Montagues, but his friends reassure him. Romeo declares that he won't dance and talks of his love. Mercutio twists Romeo's declarations into twisted, sexual innuendos. Romeo ignores him, stating that he had a dream going to the feast was a bad idea.
Mercutio responds with one of the most famous speeches of the play, where he talks about Queen Mab, the fairy who messes with humans and their dreams. Though the tone of the speech is lighthearted at first, it quickly devolves into a bitter rant about humanity.
Romeo, in an attempt to calm his friend, utters one of his most famous lines, ''Thou talk'st of nothing'' (I.iv.96).
Mercutio agrees, admitting that all dreams are not the fault of meddling fairies but ''children of an idle brain'' (I.iv.97).
Benvolio just wants to party, so he pleads with them to continue. They agree, though Romeo says he has a bad feeling about the party, worried that Fate is messing with him. But, he shrugs it off and admits that he has no control over his fate (some pretty heavy foreshadowing there), and the friends continue on to the party.
Mercutio, one of Shakespeare's most memorable characters, is the only one in Romeo and Juliet not bound by social structure. His thoughts are his own. Unlike the Montagues and the Capulets, Mercutio is free to make his own decisions about life and his actions. In his famous ''Queen Mab'' speech, Mercutio is not only referencing the pre-Christian Celtic beliefs, as Shakespeare often does, but he is showing that all dreams, including Romeo's dream of true love, are nothing but delusions.
Mercutio, as is highlighted in this scene, is the king of the pun. He twists all of Romeo's romantic thoughts and makes them dirty, the same way he later makes fun of Tybalt's fashionable clothes.
Though this scene is mainly used as an introduction to Mercutio, a quick-witted friend of Romeo and Benvolio, Romeo's cousin, it also shows Romeo's misgivings about the party, where we all know he will meet Juliet.
When Romeo, the male star of the play, gives up to the fate we all know awaits him, we are left feeling like the audience of a horror movie. We all want to yell ''No! Don't go in there!'' to the poor teenager, as he walks into what will become his doom. This was Romeo's last chance to turn back from that star-crossed meeting, and he shrugged it off.