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Romeo and Juliet character
Created byWilliam Shakespeare
In-universe information
FamilyCapulets (cousin)

Tybalt is a character in William Shakespeare's play Romeo and Juliet. He is the son of Lady Capulet's brother, Juliet's short-tempered first cousin, and Romeo's rival. Tybalt shares the same name as the character Tibert/Tybalt the "Prince of Cats" in Reynard the Fox, a point of mockery in the play. Mercutio repeatedly calls Tybalt "Prince of Cats" (perhaps referring not only to Reynard but to the Italian word cazzo[1] as well). Luigi da Porto adapted the story as Giulietta e Romeo and included it in his Historia novellamente ritrovata di due Nobili Amanti published in 1530.[2] Da Porto drew on Pyramus and Thisbe and Giovanni Boccaccio's Decameron. Da Porto gave it much of its modern form, including the lovers' names, the rival families of Montecchi and Capuleti, and the location in Verona.[3] He also introduces characters corresponding to Shakespeare's Mercutio, Tybalt, and Paris. Da Porto presents his tale as historically true and claims it took place in the days of Bartolomeo II della Scala (a century earlier than Salernitano). Montague and Capulet were actual 13th-century political factions, but the only connection between them is a mention in Dante's Purgatorio as an example of civil dissension.[4]

Role in the play[edit]

In Act I, Scene I, Tybalt enters and helps his servants, Sampson and Gregory, who are fighting in the streets with servants of the Montagues, Abraham and Balthasar. Seeing Benvolio (Romeo's cousin) trying to stop the fight, Tybalt draws his sword to fight Benvolio, saying:

What, drawn and talk of peace? I hate the word
As I hate hell, all Montagues, and thee.
Have at thee, coward!

Later, at the Capulets' ball, Tybalt is the first to recognize Romeo through his disguise, and would kill him if not forbidden by his uncle, Lord Capulet. His lust for revenge unsated, Tybalt sends a challenge letter to Romeo for a duel to the death. At the beginning of Act III, he enters looking for Romeo, only to create tensions with Mercutio, who was mocking Tybalt even before he entered the scene. Tybalt initially ignores Mercutio and confronts Romeo, who refuses to fight because of his marriage to Juliet. Tybalt becomes even angrier; he does not know Romeo cannot fight him because they are now relatives.

Mercutio loses his temper and begins fighting Tybalt himself. Romeo tries to stop the combat by rushing between them, and Tybalt then stabs Mercutio under his arm. Mercutio dies. Enraged, Romeo duels and kills Tybalt in return, leading to his own exile by the prince.

Tybalt is revealed to be Juliet's maternal first cousin, when Lady Capulet arrives at the scene where Tybalt lies dead, and cries "Tybalt, my cousin, O my brother's child!" (III.I)



John W. Draper points out the parallels between the Elizabethan belief in the four humours and the main characters of the play (for example, Tybalt is a choleric -- violent, vengeful, short-tempered, ambitious[7]). Interpreting the text in the light of humours reduces the amount of plot attributed to chance by modern audiences.[8]


  1. ^ Erne (2007: 88)
  2. ^ Moore (1937: 38–44).
  3. ^ Hosley (1965: 168).
  4. ^ Moore (1930: 264–277)
  5. ^ "Romeo and Juliet". Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved 2 October 2014.
  6. ^ "Tybalt". Retrieved 3 July 2019.
  7. ^ "The Four Humours".
  8. ^ Draper (1939: 16–34).


External links[edit]