Continuing on the Romeo and Juliet theme, here's another question. We all know about the "ancient grudge" between the Montagues and the Capulets. The play starts out with a fight between them. One of the great stylized moments of the Luhrman version was the closeup on the guns and how they were all different "brands" of "sword".
But something I've always wondered is, just how violent are they toward each other? We know that they've "disturbed the streets" what, three times previously, the Prince tells us? But are we talking about glorified shouting matches, where neither side is really interested in doing anything more than flaunting their manhood? At the start, the worst we get is a thumb biting. And even then, whoever it was (Sampson?) has to ask, "Is the law on my side if I say Aye?" So we see that while he hates the Capulets, he doesn't want to get in trouble, either. Swords come out, Benvolio attempts to beat them down, and then Tybalt joins the fray. We get the feeling that this has all happened before. What I'm wondering is, had it not been stopped, would someone have gotten hurt? Is it really violent, or just walking that edge?
Another thought -- Montague's first words to Benvolio are, "Who set this ancient quarrel new abroach?" That could be interpreted as meaning that the two families have not been clashing in the streets lately, that things have been settling down. The Prince doesn't say that they've disturbed the streets three times in the last month, after all. Later, Capulet mentions to Paris, "Tis not so hard for men as old as we to keep the peace." So maybe this ancient grudge is actually nearly forgotten, before suddenly being thrust back into the spotlight.
What I'm wondering is, when Mercutio and Tybalt are killed, what's the reaction of the crowd? How would a third party look upon the news story the next morning? Is violence just a part of daily life, and these were just two more stupid kids who ended up dead? Or do we have a case where it's understood that yes, they hate each other, but it's all talk, nobody gets hurt. Then, when somebody does finally get hurt, it has that much more impact, like "Holy cow, Romeo, what did you do???" Did Mercutio enter into the sword fight with Tybalt without ever thinking that he might actually get hurt? Did they not think that they were playing a life and death game? This sort of gets back to the idea from an earlier post about maturity levels and how old these kids are. They can act grown up, they can play with weapons like they were toys, and probably are in the habit of doing exactly that. But then the violence finally tips over the edge, and that's when everything comes crashing down.
Dare I say it? Momma always said, it's all fun and games until Mercutio gets it in Act III. :)