Alan Rickman as Tybalt.
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Michael York as Tybalt.
Image Source: RIP Tybalt.
John Leguizamo as Tybalt.
Image Source: Auteur of the Week.
Mark Seibert as Tybalt.
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[Tybalt is the name of the Prince of Cats in the popular medieval beast fable, Reynard the Fox.]
Trying to stop the fight between the servants of Capulet and Montague, Benvolio draws his sword to beat down the servants' swords, but Benvolio has scarcely gotten his sword out of its scabbard before Tybalt shows up and calls out, "What, art thou drawn among these heartless hinds? / Turn thee, Benvolio, look upon thy death" (1.1.66-67). "Heartless hinds" are cowardly servants, and Tybalt thinks that Benvolio should be ashamed to draw his sword among such lowly creatures. Benvolio asks Tybalt to help him keep the peace, but Tybalt answers, "What, drawn, and talk of peace! I hate the word, / As I hate hell, all Montagues, and thee: / Have at thee, coward!" (1.1.70-72). "Have at thee" is what you say as you attack, and Tybalt attacks Benvolio.
Later in the scene, as he is discussing the brawl with Montague, Benvolio disdainfully describes Tybalt. He says that Tybalt came on to the scene with his sword out, "Which, as he breathed defiance to my ears, / He swung about his head and cut the winds, / Who nothing hurt withal hiss'd him in scorn" (1.1.110-112). In other words, Tybalt swung his sword around so fast that it made a hissing sound, but the only thing he cut was the air, which wasn't hurt and made the hissing sound to disrespect Tybalt. [Scene Summary]
Tybalt is among those following Capulet when Capulet greets the "maskers" (Romeo and his friends) at Capulet's feast. When Romeo exclaims on the beauty of Juliet, Tybalt overhears him (though it doesn't seem that he knows that Romeo is talking about his cousin Juliet). Tybalt says,
This, by his voice, should be a Montague.The speech shows us Tybalt's arrogance. As soon as he identifies a Montague he sends his "boy" for his sword and justifies his intended murder by the "honor of my kin." However, Tybalt quickly meets his match. Capulet sees that he is upset, tries to talk him out of it, and then sarcastically calls him "boy" and tells him to shut up. As Tybalt leaves the party he vows that Romeo will pay. [Scene Summary]
The morning after Capulet's party, Benvolio and Mercutio are looking for Romeo when Benvolio mentions that Tybalt has sent a letter to Romeo at his father's house. Mercutio is sure it must be a challenge, and Benvolio is sure that "Romeo will answer it" (2.4.9). Benvolio means that Romeo will answer the challenge and fight Tybalt, but Mercutio asks whether anyone as love-sick as Romeo is "a man to encounter Tybalt?" (2.4.14-17). Benvolio asks "Why, what is Tybalt?"(2.4.18), which is not the same as asking "Who is Tybalt"? Benvolio knows very well who Tybalt is, and is asking if he's really such hot stuff. Mercutio's answer is deliciously sarcastic:
More than prince of cats, I can tell you. O, he isAccording to Mercutio, Tybalt has been to a fencing school ("house") with a big reputation, and it shows. He is a skilled duellist, but not natural or spontaneous; instead, he fights as a person sings from sheet-music ("prick-song"), following all the rules about proper timing and distance until puts his sword in exactly the right place and kills you. Not only can he hit a target as small as a button, he knows all the rules about "the first and second cause," which supposedly give him the right to be insulted and demand satisfaction. Then, when he fights, he shows off all his cool moves, the passado (forward thrust), the punto reverso (backhand thrust), and an old one with a new name, the hay (killing thrust). Mercutio goes on to curse Tybalt and everyone like him, all the wannabes who follow the latest fashion in fighting, and all who encourage the wannabes. [Scene Summary]
In the streets of Verona, looking to fight Romeo, Tybalt approaches Mercutio and Benvolio, saying "Gentlemen, good den: a word with one of you" (3.1.38), but Mercutio immediately insults and challenges him. Before Tybalt can respond, Romeo appears, and Tybalt tries to provoke him to a fight. Romeo declines, but Mercutio picks a fight with Tybalt. Romeo tries to stop the fight, but Tybalt gives Mercutio a deadly wound as Romeo is trying to restrain Mercutio. Tybalt then runs away, only to return moments later, fight Romeo, and die. Tybalt's last words are to Romeo: "Thou, wretched boy, that didst consort him [Mercutio] here, / Shalt with him hence" (3.1.130-131). It's interesting that Tybalt uses the same insulting word -- "boy" -- as was used about him by Capulet at the feast.
Later in the scene, when Lady Capulet sees that Tybalt is dead she cries out, "Tybalt, my cousin! O my brother's child!" (3.1.146). She demands revenge, saying, "Prince, as thou art true, / For blood of ours, shed blood of Montague" (3.1.148-149). She even says that "Some twenty of them fought in this black strife, / And all those twenty could but kill one life" (3.1.178-179). Her claim that it took twenty men to kill Tybalt is something she just makes up. [Scene Summary]
On the evening of her wedding day, Juliet eagerly awaits Romeo. The Nurse comes with the rope ladder that Romeo is to use to ascend to Juliet's room, but throws it down and exclaims, "Ah, well-a-day! he's dead, he's dead, he's dead! / We are undone, lady, we are undone! / Alack the day! he's gone, he's kill'd, he's dead!" (3.2.37-39). At first, Juliet thinks the Nurse is talking about Romeo, but then discovers that it's Tybalt who is dead. Juliet describes Tybalt as "My dearest cousin" (3.2.66), and for a moment is angry at Romeo, but she soon gets over that. Towards the end of the scene Juliet asks where her mother and father are, and the Nurse says they are "Weeping and wailing over Tybalt's corse" (3.2.128). The Nurse invites Juliet to join her parents in grief for Tybalt, but Juliet says that she will cry in grief over Romeo's banishment. [Scene Summary]
In wild despair at being banished, Romeo calls his killing of Tybalt "murder." When he tells Friar Laurence that he can't give him any advice because the Friar doesn't know how he feels. Romeo says, "Wert thou as young as I, Juliet thy love, / An hour but married, Tybalt murdered, / Doting like me and like me banished, / Then mightst thou speak" (3.3.65-68). A little later the Nurse comes in and describes Juliet's sad state; Romeo asks, "how is it with her? / Doth she not think me an old murderer, / Now I have stain'd the childhood of our joy / With blood removed but little from her own?" (3.3.94-96). The Nurse says that Juliet does nothing but weep, "And now falls on her bed; and then starts up, / And Tybalt calls; and then on Romeo cries, / And then down falls again." (3.3.100-102). Then Romeo says, "As if that name ["Romeo"], / Shot from the deadly level of a gun, / Did murder her; as that name's cursed hand / Murder'd her kinsman" (3.3.102-105).
Though Romeo calls himself Tybalt's murderer, Friar Laurence takes a more reasonable view. Romeo says that he will kill himself, but the Friar points out how stupid that is: "Hast thou slain Tybalt? wilt thou slay thyself? / And slay thy lady that in thy life lives, / By doing damned hate upon thyself?" (3.3.116-118). The Friar then advises Romeo to count his blessings. Among those blessings is the fact that "Tybalt would kill [i.e., would have killed] thee, / But thou slew'st Tybalt" (3.3.137-138). [Scene Summary]
Late in the evening of the day of Juliet's marriage to Romeo, Capulet explains to Paris that he hasn't had a chance to speak to Juliet about marrying Paris. Then Capulet adds, "Look you, she loved her kinsman Tybalt dearly, / And so did I" (3.4.3-4). However, grief for Tybalt's death doesn't stop him from suddenly offering Paris Juliet's hand in marriage. He does say that they'll just have a small wedding, "For, hark you, Tybalt being slain so late, / It may be thought we held him carelessly, / Being our kinsman, if we revel much" (3.4.24-26) [Scene Summary]
The morning after Juliet's one night with Romeo, Lady Capulet finds her daughter weeping. Juliet is weeping because she has just said farewell to Romeo, but lady Capulet assumes that the tears are for Tybalt and asks, "Evermore weeping for your cousin's death? / What, wilt thou wash him from his grave with tears?" (3.5.69-70). Then begins an exchange about Tybalt and Romeo. Lady Capulet wants to wreak deadly revenge upon Romeo for Tybalt's death. Juliet allows her mother to think that she agrees with her, but Juliet's responses show us how much she loves Romeo.
When her father appears, Juliet is still weeping. Like his wife, Capulet assumes that Tybalt's death is the cause of Juliet's tears, and he says so in a rather elaborate way: "When the sun sets, the air doth drizzle dew; / But for the sunset of my brother's son / It rains downright. / How now! a conduit, girl? what, still in tears?" (3.5.126-129).
[Although Capulet here refers to Tybalt as "my brother's son," you may remember that just after Tybalt died Lady Capulet referred to him as "my brother's child" (3.1.146). It is generally assumed that, because Lady Capulet is so passionate about getting revenge on Romeo, Tybalt is her brother's son, and that Capulet here uses "brother" to mean "brother-in-law."]
Later in the scene, after Capulet has threatened Juliet with all sorts of horrible punishments if she does not marry Paris, she pleads, "O, sweet my mother, cast me not away! / Delay this marriage for a month, a week / Or, if you do not, make the bridal bed / In that dim monument where Tybalt lies" (3.5.198-201). [Scene Summary]
Having received Capulet's promise of Juliet's hand in marriage, Paris tells Friar Laurence he wants him to perform the wedding ceremony. The Friar objects that Paris hasn't talked to Juliet, but Paris has an explanation: "Immoderately she weeps for Tybalt's death, / And therefore have I little talk'd of love; / For Venus smiles not in a house of tears" (4.1.6-8). We know it's Romeo's exile, not Tybalt's death, that makes Juliet weep. [Scene Summary]
Preparing to take the sleeping potion Friar Laurence has given her, Juliet is plagued with second thoughts and fears. Her imagination wanders through the terrible place where she will awake, seeing it packed with the bones of ancestors who have lain there for hundreds of years, seeing ghosts, seeing "Where bloody Tybalt, yet but green in earth, / Lies festering in his shroud" (4.3.42-43). Juliet fears that all of the horrible sights and sounds of the tomb will make her go mad, so that she will play with dead men's fingers, pull Tybalt from his shroud, and use a dead kinsman's bone to beat her brains out. Juliet's imagination working ever more strongly, she believes she can actually see Tybalt rise from the dead: "O, look! methinks I see my cousin's ghost / Seeking out Romeo, that did spit [skewer] his body / Upon a rapier's point." (4.3.55-57). This picture of Tybalt's ghost coming to kill Romeo is the final horror, and she tries to stop it, crying out, "Stay [stop], Tybalt, stay!", and calling upon her love, "Romeo, Romeo, Romeo! Here's drink--I drink to thee" (4.3.58). [Scene Summary]
As Romeo opens Juliet's grave, Paris is looking on, and he quickly identifies Romeo as "that banish'd haughty Montague, / That murder'd my love's cousin [Tybalt], with which grief, / It is supposed, the fair creature died" (5.3.51). Paris supposes that Romeo means to continue the feud with the Capulets by doing "some villanous shame / To the dead bodies" (5.3.52-53).
At the side of Juliet, preparing to kill himself, Romeo notices the body of Tybalt close by and makes his peace with his enemy, saying, "O, what more favour can I do to thee, / Than with that hand that cut thy youth in twain / To sunder his [i.e., Romeo's life] that was thine enemy?" (5.3.98-100). By taking his own life, Romeo will make it up to Tybalt for taking his.
Later in the scene Prince Escalus commands Friar Laurence to tell everything he knows about how Romeo and Juliet died. Friar Laurence complies. He starts by saying that Romeo and Juliet were husband and wife, then explains that they were married the same day that Tybalt died, and that Juliet was pining away because of Romeo's banishment, not because of Tybalt's death. He says,
I married them; and their stol'n marriage-day[Scene Summary]