Romeo and Juliet- “mercy but murders, pardoning those that kill”- what does it mean?

“mercy but murders, pardoning those that kill”- what does this mean? and why is it ironic?

This is actually a good example of an ironic statement. Since Irony is defined as the use of words to convey a meaning that is opposite of its meaning, this statement fits right alone with this. If you think about it, mercy is not a word that is associated with murdering and saying that showing mercy murders, then why show it. Mercy is generally shown to keep violence at a minimum and since this statement is saying that it causes the opposite of it’s meaning. This is also ironic because they felt by banishing Romeo, the feud and murder would stop when in actuality, it caused another two people to lose their lives unnecessarily.
This statement itself means that giving mercy to those who kill will only continue to cause murder to continue. If I’m not mistaken did not the ruler of the city say this when tybalt died? I’m not completely sure as I read this nearly a year ago. Had there not been such flexibility with the Capulets and Montagues feuding, then I doubt these three deaths would have occurred.
For more ideas, you can research online or at your local library about this. Talk to your teacher who has you reading this or an adult for more ideas on what this could mean. If my explanation was confusing, feel free to email or Instant message me so I can clear it up. Hope this helps.

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It is an older way of phrasing an old saying about justice and human nature, which you can see today as “Those who are kind to the cruel, in the end will be cruel to the kind.”

Say you’re a judge or President who feels sorry for a terrorist, and pardons him. The terrorist then blows up a school full of children. Your mercy is what murdered those children, every bit as much as the explosives the terrorist used, because if you hadn’t pardoned him, he wouldn’t have been able to blow up the school. See?

Tybalt killed Mercutio, who was related to the Prince. Romeo then killed Tybalt to avenge Mercutio. The Prince banished Romeo instead of executing him, possibly because he was really angry about Mercutio (he made the Capulets and Montagues pay a large fine for his death). But his mercy to Romeo ended up costing him the life of another relative, Count Paris. Romeo killed Paris because Paris tried to prevent Romeo from entering Juliet’s tomb.

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