Mercutio is more than just a flamboyant, well-spoken, and witty young man prone to speeches and spectacles, doomed to be killed by a Capuleti in a foolish and thoughtless duel. He’s a beautiful young man who loves to dress well, an obedient son, a caring master to his servants, a good friend, and good company. He’s a creature of temper, born to rank and position, but willing to throw it all aside. He is also a man deeply, desperately in love. The young man who holds Mercutio’s heart, unfortunately, is in love with someone else. Romeo has been in love before, and each time his heart is broken Mercutio is there to pick up the pieces, but this time Romeo’s love is returned by none other than the beautiful Giulietta Capulet, and Mercutio knows he has lost him.
I didn’t read the author’s guest post until I finished reading their book, because I like to go into a story with fresh eyes and an open mind. I don’t want to be told the themes or the inspiration; I just want to approach the story the same way I approach every book, with the same wonder and delight of a child opening a present at Christmas. (I don’t even read the blurbs until I’ve read the story.) And I’m especially glad, this time, that I was able to do so.
I have never thought to look at Mercutio as anything other than the character with the best speech in Romeo and Juliet. I never gave thought to him as a person, to the position he was in as a cousin to one family and the relation to a prince. And yet, the author manages to make this brief moment in Mercutio’s life feel both akin to the play and yet it’s own thing. Given shape and flesh, he becomes sensitive, melancholy, and isolated from his friends by his own improper leanings towards his own sex, for all that other men of his company have no issue going to a pleasure house and spending the night (and their money) with either gender or both. Mercutio uses his words like weapons, his smile like armor, and feels much like an introvert playing at being an extrovert.
There are some honestly chuckle worth lines from Mercutio:
‘’Tis true, Cousin. By this very year’s end, I shall be called “Husband”. By this time next year, I’ll likely be called “Father”.’
‘You intend to leave your bride for the priesthood?’
And some very eloquent ones:
‘ […] My mother has often charged me, “Boy! There’s alchemy in thy tongue!” For she had heard how I could turn promises into gold to spend beyond my allowance, and how insults and hot words from my lips would often conjure bare steel. […] ‘
At times, the book feels bit frantic, which makes sense owing to the pacing of the play, but it adds a frenetic energy to Mercutio that works with the character presented. Having read the story through Davenport’s eyes, I’m not sure I’ll be able to see the character — in plays or movies — the same way again. The writing can be a bit stiff in parts, and the author uses commas like I do, but this story offers a new take on an old character and I can honestly say it’s worth the read, whether you’re a fan of Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet, or not.