Tybalt values his family’s honor, and he sees violence as the primary way to uphold it. This intense attention to his idea of honor is just one manifestation of Tybalt’s care for societal expectations and fashions. He is not only quick to start a fight, but he has honed his talent for swordsmanship. He is not only worried about his family’s honor, but also his own style and decorum. Image, more than tradition, is of prime importance to Tybalt. He upholds his family’s honor by focusing on their immediate social status and image, rather than appealing to their historical standing or considering future ramifications of his actions.

Despite Tybalt’s desire to be seen as a man of honor, it is Capulet, the head of his own house, who first reprimands Tybalt for causing a scene. When he recognizes Romeo at the Capulet ball, Tybalt takes it as a slight against his family. It is a telling insight into his idea of honor that Tybalt’s reaction to finding Romeo at the party is to take justice into his own hands and seek Romeo out for a fight. Tybalt sees himself as the arbiter of honor, even though he is not the master of the house. Capulet is offended at Tybalt’s anger, telling Tybalt off for casting a pall on the party and forbidding him from escalating the situation.

Despite the text’s insistence that the Capulet and Montague families are at bitter odds, Tybalt is the primary character we see exhibit any actual aggression toward the other side. The Prince’s ban on violence does not hold him back because he does not feel rule-following is as important as his family’s reputation. Even after Mercutio engages Tybalt’s taunts in place of Romeo, Tybalt does not take his own victory as satisfaction of Romeo’s offense. He slays Mercutio, leaves, then comes back to fight Romeo again. This dogged persistence against the Montagues keeps Tybalt from seeing the danger he puts himself in by continuing to provoke Romeo after killing his friend.

For all this, the Capulets clearly still hold Tybalt in high regard. The honor he so desperately seeks is his simply by virtue of his familial connection. The efforts he makes to be seen as a competent, tough man work. His family defends him after death to the point of convincing the Prince to banish Romeo. They know Tybalt’s tendency to overreact with aggression, but they refuse to take Benvolio, a Montague, at his word when it makes Tybalt look dishonorable. The entire Capulet household is convinced Tybalt’s death is enough to send Juliet into a period of intense grief and depression. Regardless of their exasperation with him, they still care enough to hold him in high regard, and Juliet does too. Her initial, albeit short-lived, reaction upon hearing of Tybalt’s death is to rebuke Romeo for killing him. Tybalt’s obsession with image may get him into trouble, but it also gives him the desired effect of holding his family’s honor.