This scene and act provide the climax of the tension that has been building up throughout the play. Tension is presented first in the prologue when we are told about the death of "the star crossed lovers." Again, tension is created in Act 1 scene 1 when the Capulets and the Montagues fight in the market place. There we meet Tybalt who shows the violent hate of the feud, "I hate peace, all Montagues and you." In Act 1, scene 5 tension is stirred again when Tybalt sees Romeo at the Capulet party. "I'll not endure him," suggesting that he may be forced to now, but he will not later. Only the intervention of Lord Capulet, concerned that the hospitality rules of time will be broken and reflect badly on the Capulets, stops trouble.
Benvolio and Mercutio are talking in the public square; the Capulets are about looking for trouble.
It is obvious tension is brewing and Mercutio refuses to leave. Shakespeare has presented Mercutio as a joker earlier in the play; he is always laughing and teasing the others. He seems to have quite a loud personality, "nay gentle Romeo, we must have you dance." He tends to speak aloud rather than to a specific person. "You are a lover, borrow cupid's wings." These are just two of the lines by Mercutio, which show his personality. Benvolio is a peacemaker; he does not like trouble and tries to avoid it. Benvolio knows the capulets are about looking for trouble, he begs to Mercutio "let's retire," but he does not listen.
Tybalt arrives with others behind him, this gives the impression he is most important, a leader. He speaks to Mercutio, "Gentlemen, good den; a word with one of you." He uses a civil respectful tone when...