But how do they add to YOUR understanding of Romeo. That is the question to be answered.
Any playwright has to, 'balance', the characters of his plays, against each other, so that their individual traits and predilections are equally versed. In Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare presents the former as "Verona brags of him to be a virtuous and well governed youth" (Note the "youth!", suggesting that Romeo is quite young, ( some say no more than 15), as Juliet IS described as, "On Lammas Eve at night, shall she be 14". Romeos two friends, the worryingly careful Benvolio, and the wonderfully witty and enigmatic Mercutio, as I said, "balance" each other out, and give Romeo a well rounded, clear thinking, and precise role in which to present his case for marriage to Juliet, despite his and her parents abject animosity towards each other. All might have gone well, had it not been for the raging hatred in the Capulet master swordsman Tybalt.
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