Throughout Romeo and Juliet, Benvolio stands in as the Montagues’ young voice of reason. We meet him attempting to break up a street fight and he spends the rest of the text intercepting Romeo’s lovelorn ramblings, redirecting his friends’ attention when they get off topic, and trying to keep the peace. Notably, although Benvolio is a Montague, he does not seem to value his family over the Capulets or think either side is correct in their feud. Benvolio’s primary goal is simply to let everyone get on with their lives. Benvolio usually appears in scenes with Romeo, Mercutio, or both. The contrast of Benvolio against these more erratic characters further heightens the impression that he is consistently level-headed and sensible.

Benvolio is not only the intercessor before altercations take place, but in their aftermath as well. It is Benvolio who explains the play’s opening skirmish to the Montagues, and later he tells the Prince the details of Mercutio, Tybalt, and Romeo’s fights. He does not embellish or twist the stories either time, but rather he gives simple, concise accounts of the events. Although the Capulets do not believe Benvolio, he is honest in his retelling, including pointing out Mercutio’s fault in the fight. This honesty is strategic, as Mercutio is past the point of needing to be defended and Romeo is not, but it also shows that Benvolio does not paint his friends as innocent when they are not.

Despite Benvolio’s peace-keeping and problem-solving skills, Mercutio implies that Benvolio has a hot temper and is easily provoked to fight. However, this personality trait never manifests itself in the text. Either Mercutio is teasing his friend, or Benvolio’s sensible tendencies are only proof of a mature effort to hold himself back from fights which would get him in trouble with the law. Whatever his inclination, Benvolio usually shows his rationale rather than his emotions in any given moment. The one notable time Benvolio does reveal his emotions, he cries in sympathy with Romeo’s pangs of unrequited love. Clearly, Benvolio does not lack feeling; he simply chooses his moments to show it. Emotion and impulsivity drive much of the plot of Romeo and Juliet, but Benvolio—though ultimately unsuccessful in his peace-making—helps anchor the story with his voice of thoughtful maturity.