Analysis of Queen Mab Speech
Mercutio's Queen Mab speech is a mocking declaration that dreams are illusory wish-fulfilment, and that they can have delusional and destructive effects. In juxtaposing lawyers and lovers, soldiers and the fairy entourage, his eloquent speech touches on a number of the play's opposing themes such as love and hate, fantasy and reality and idealism. Given the context of the speech, it seems like Mercutio is suggesting that, like Queen Mab, dreams are insubstantial and insignificant.
One of the major themes of the speech is the veracity of dreams. Unlike Romeo, Mercutio does not believe that dreams can foretell future events. He suggests that the fairy Queen Mab brings dreams to humans as a result of men's worldly desires and anxieties. To him, the fairies are merely granting carnal wishes as they gallop by. The repetition of 'O'er' when describing Queen Mab's actions are used to emphasize this point. By Mercutio’s same logic, lovers desire love and so dream of love, lawyers desire money and so dreams of fees and so on. In this manner, Mercutio proves that dreams are not real, but are instead mere reflections of our worldly desires. Believing that dreams are true, he insinuates, is as foolish as believing in fairies.
The insignificance of dreams is another theme explored. The metaphors "…no bigger than an agate stone on the forefinger...", "her chariot is an empty hazelnut" and "Her whip of cricket bone" are all used to imply the triviality of Queen Mab. Since she is the bringer of dreams, we come to realise that the dreams are just as insubstantial because they are mere fantasies induced by a tiny fairy.
Another idea explored is love being the root of corruption. Through the Queen Mab imagery, Mercutio suggests that all desires and fantasies are as nonsensical as Mab, and that they are basically debasing. As Mercutio's images become more patently alarming, the rhythm in Shakespeare's iambic pentameter becomes more driving, and...