I always treated Tybalt as one of Shakespeare’s better villains. He’s got nothing but hate in him, and he’s not afraid to draw his sword and go one-on-one with any challenger. Certainly he’s a coward at heart, as they all are – he runs after he kills Mercutio, for instance.
Then again… On the train lately I’ve been reading the script, because I’m that kind of geek. And I notice passages like the end of Act I scene i, where Benvolio is explaining what happened to Lord Montague, and I get this: “The fiery Tybalt, with his sword prepared, which, as he breathed defiance to my ears, he swung about his head and cut the winds, who nothing hurt withal hiss’d him in scorn…” Does that mean that Tybalt stood there slashing at the air with his sword and not hitting anything?
Then later there is the lengthy passage where Mercutio describes Tybalt’s swordsmanship. Is he being fair, or sarcastic? Or both? Is Tybalt a swordsman to be feared, or is he all talk?