Bruce Robinson as Benvolio.
Image Source: The Wall Machine.
Sergio González as Benvolio.
Image Source: Kentucky Opera.
Dash Mihok as Benvolio.
Image Source: gallery4share.com.
[His name suggests "benevolence, good will."]
When Benvolio sees Sampson and Gregory fighting with Abraham and Balthasar, he immediately tries to stop the fight, saying, "Part, fools! / Put up your swords; you know not what you do" (1.1.64-65). However, Tybalt enters, calls him a coward, and attacks him, so Benvolio is quickly a part of the fight that he tried to stop.
Later in the scene Montague says to Benvolio, "Who set this ancient quarrel new abroach? / Speak, nephew, were you by when it began?" (1.1.104-105). Benvolio answers Montague's question, and when Lady Montague asks about Romeo, Benvolio says that he saw him wandering in the woods before dawn, but left him alone because he thought that Romeo wanted to be left alone. Then Romeo appears, and Benvolio tells his parents he'll find out what's wrong with him. Benvolio soon discovers that Romeo suffering from the pangs of unrequited love. He sympathizes, but also urges Romeo to solve his problem by checking out the other beauties of the town. [Scene Summary]
In the second scene Benvolio continues to urge Romeo to cure his love-sickness by considering other women. He says, "Tut, man, one fire burns out another's burning" (1.2.45). When they discover that Rosaline will be at Capulet's feast, Benvolio challenges Romeo to go to the feast, so that he may compare Rosaline with other beauties. [Scene Summary]
On the evening of the first day, Romeo, Mercutio, Benvolio, and some others are about to make an appearance at Capulet's feast. They are not malicious party-crashers. They have masks, they are prepared to dance, and they have an introductory speech written. As the scene opens we hear Romeo, who may have a copy of the speech in his hand, saying "What, shall this speech be spoke for excuse? / Or shall we on without apology?" (1.4.1-2). Benvolio wants to go right on in, so he declares that "The date is out of such prolixity" (1.4.3), meaning that such windy introductions are out of date. Nevertheless, Romeo keeps raising objections, and his persistent reluctance to join in the fun leads to Mercutio's famous "Queen Mab" speech. At the end of the scene Benvolio leads the party into Capulet's house. [Scene Summary]
In Capulet's house, while the servants are still bustling about, the man of the house appears, followed by his kin and guests. The stage direction says that they come "to the Maskers," which means Benvolio, Romeo, Mercutio, and their friends. Capulet says, "Welcome, gentlemen! ladies that have their toes / Unplagued with corns will walk a bout with you" (1.5.16-17). To "walk a bout" is to dance a turn, and Capulet is making sure that these strangers in masks feel welcome. Benvolio has no lines in the scene, but he probably dances; in the next scene he doesn't have any idea that anything has gone on between Romeo and Juliet. [Scene Summary]
After Capulet's party, Romeo appears by himself and says, "Can I go forward when my heart is here? / Turn back, dull earth, and find thy centre out." (2.1.1-2). As soon as Romeo disappears, we hear, then see, Benvolio and Mercutio. Benvolio is calling for his cousin, and Mercutio says that Romeo must have gone home to bed, but Benvolio says, "He ran this way, and leap'd this orchard wall. / Call, good Mercutio" (2.1.5-6). The rest of the scene is largely occupied with Mercutio's witty conjurations to make Romeo appear. Romeo does not appear, and Benvolio concludes that he doesn't want to be found. [Scene Summary]
The morning after Capulet's party, Benvolio and Mercutio are looking for Romeo. Benvolio mentions that Tybalt has sent a letter which challenges Romeo to a duel. Mercutio thinks that Romeo is probably too love-sick (for Rosaline) to fight anyone, but Benvolio replies that Romeo will "answer the letter's master, how he dares, being dared" (2.4.11-12), meaning that "being dared" to a fight, Romeo will fight, "how he dares" -- no matter what time or place Tybalt proposes.
For most of the rest of the scene Benvolio is the appreciative audience to Mercutio as Mercutio saracastically denounces Tybalt, exchanges witticisms with Romeo and hassles the Nurse. [Scene Summary]
The afternoon of the day after Capulet's feast Benvolio is hanging out on the streets of Verona with Mercutio, to whom he says, "I pray thee, good Mercutio, let's retire: / The day is hot, the Capulets abroad" (3.1.2).