Sword Fight
Reading Comprehension Activity

Author: William Shakespeare

Act III passage: Everything seemed to be going so well for Romeo and Juliet until this scene. But that’s why they call it a tragedy. This passage is sword fight between Mercutio and Tybalt which ends in disaster. Students will read the scene and respond to questions on the plot action and the figurative language.

Topic(s): Dramatic Tragedies. Skill(s): Summary, Figurative Language, Story Elements. Genre(s): Drama

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This passage from Act III, Scene 1 of William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet is the sword fight between Mercutio, Romeo’s friend, and Tybalt, Juliet’s cousin. As the scene opens, Mercutio is in the a public square with Benvolio and some servants when Tybalt and his friends arrive. An argument starts, and then Romeo, just secretly married to Juliet, arrives.


    Romeo, the hate I bear thee can afford
    No better term than this,–thou art a villain.
    Tybalt, the reason that I have to love thee
    Doth much excuse the appertaining rage
    To such a greeting: villain am I none;
    Therefore farewell; I see thou know’st me not.
    Boy, this shall not excuse the injuries
    That thou hast done me; therefore turn and draw.
    I do protest, I never injured thee,
    But love thee better than thou canst devise,
    Till thou shalt know the reason of my love:
    And so, good Capulet,–which name I tender
    As dearly as my own,–be satisfied.
    O calm, dishonourable, vile submission!
    Alla stoccata carries it away.
    Tybalt, you rat-catcher, will you walk?
    What wouldst thou have with me?
    Good king of cats, nothing but one of your nine
    lives; that I mean to make bold withal, and as you
    shall use me hereafter, drybeat the rest of the
    eight. Will you pluck your sword out of his pilcher
    by the ears? make haste, lest mine be about your
    ears ere it be out.
    I am for you.
    Gentle Mercutio, put thy rapier up.
    Come, sir, your passado.
    [They fight]
    Draw, Benvolio; beat down their weapons.
    Gentlemen, for shame, forbear this outrage!
    Tybalt, Mercutio, the prince expressly hath
    Forbidden bandying in Verona streets:
    Hold, Tybalt! good Mercutio!
[Tybalt under Romeo’s arm stabs Mercutio, and flies with his followers.]
    I am hurt.
    A plague o’ both your houses! I am sped.
    Is he gone, and hath nothing?
    What, art thou hurt?
    Ay, ay, a scratch, a scratch; marry, ‘tis enough.
    Where is my page? Go, villain, fetch a surgeon.
    [Exit Page]
    Courage, man; the hurt cannot be much.
    No, ‘tis not so deep as a well, nor so wide as a
    church-door; but ‘tis enough,’twill serve: ask for
    me to-morrow, and you shall find me a grave man. I
    am peppered, I warrant, for this world. A plague o’
    both your houses! ‘Zounds, a dog, a rat, a mouse, a
    cat, to scratch a man to death! a braggart, a
    rogue, a villain, that fights by the book of
    arithmetic! Why the devil came you between us? I
    was hurt under your arm.
    I thought all for the best.
    Help me into some house, Benvolio,
    Or I shall faint. A plague o’ both your houses!
    They have made worms’ meat of me: I have it,
    And soundly too: your houses!

Comprehension Questions

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