Tybalt is the main antagonist 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 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. Da Porto drew on Pyramus and Thisbe and Giovanni Boccaccio's Decameron. He gave it much of its modern form, including the lovers' names, the rival families of Montecchi and Capuleti, and the location in Verona. 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.
Role in the play
Meet Tybalt - Prince of Cats! -
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 recognise 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. He enters looking for Romeo at the beginning of Act III, 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 Romeo's 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)
- Orson Welles performed the role in the 1934â"35 production presented by Katharine Cornell, in which he made his Broadway debut.
- Basil Rathbone performed the role in the 1936 Hollywood film Romeo and Juliet. He was nominated for an Oscar as Best Supporting Actor.
- George Chakiris performed the role of Bernardo Nunez, the Tybalt character in the 1961 film West Side Story, the musical modernised version of Romeo and Juliet.
- Michael York in the 1968 Franco Zeffirelli film version
- Armand Assante in the 1977 Broadway revival
- Alan Rickman in the 1978 television adaptation within the BBC Television Shakespeare series
- John Leguizamo in Baz Luhrmann's 1996 modernised film adaption, Romeo + Juliet
- Tom Ross in the 2001 French musical RomÃ©o et Juliette
- Corey Hawkins in the 2013 Broadway revival
- Ed Westwick in the 2013 film adaptation of Romeo and Juliet
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). Interpreting the text in the light of humours reduces the amount of plot attributed to chance by modern audiences.
- Draper, John W. (1939). "Shakespeare's 'Star-Crossed Lovers'". Review of English Studies. os-XV (57): 16â"34. doi:10.1093/res/os-XV.57.16.Â
- Erne, Lukas (2007). The first quarto of Romeo and Juliet. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press. ISBNÂ 978-0-521-82121-6.Â
- Hosley, Richard (1965). Romeo and Juliet. New Haven: Yale University Press.Â
- Moore, Olin H. (1930). "The Origins of the Legend of Romeo and Juliet in Italy". Speculum. Medieval Academy of America. 5 (3): 264â"277. doi:10.2307/2848744. ISSNÂ 0038-7134. JSTORÂ 2848744.Â
- â"â" (1937). "Bandello and "Clizia"". Modern Language Notes. Johns Hopkins University Press. 52 (1): 38â"44. doi:10.2307/2912314. ISSNÂ 0149-6611. JSTORÂ 2912314.Â
- Complete listing of Tybalt's lines