How Does Shakespeare Create Atmosphere in the Masked Ball, Act 1 Scene 5 of Romeo and Juliet Essay
In this essay, I will write about the masked ball and how Shakespeare creates the atmosphere in Act 1, scene 5 of Romeo and Juliet. This scene is a crucial scene in the play, as it completely changes the context of the play. The audience are still intrigued as to where and how Romeo will meet Juliet. This creates excitement and anticipation, as the audience wait with baited breath for the meeting of Romeo and Juliet.We also know how their relationship ends, as the prologue says, ‘A pair of star-crossed lovers take their life.’ This shows that Romeo and Juliet kill themselves because of their love for each other. This creates more excitement, as the audience want to find out how in such a small space of time, the couple manage to fall in love, and take their lives. I think this play would appeal to everyone, whatever the age or gender. The romance will attract women, as well as the elderly, while the feud attracts men and younger people.Before the play starts, we discover that the Capulet and Montague families have been at war with each other for years, ‘Tow households both alike in dignity… From ancient grudge break to new mutiny.’ The play starts with a verbal confrontation between the servants of Capulet, Sampson and Gregory. While Benvolio, a Montague tries to be a peacemaker between the two, ‘Part fools,’ Tybalt provokes them, trying to encourage the fight, ‘What, drawn of peace? I hate the word, As I hate hell, all Montague’s, and thee,’ shows that Tybalt is prepared to fight. The Prince of Verona issues a death sentence in response to the fighting, ‘By thee old Capulet, and Montague, Have thrice disturbed the quiet of our streets… Once more, on pain of death, all men depart.’ This shows that he wants no more fighting, and for the feud to end. He also calls up Lord Capulet, ‘You Capulet shall go along with me,’ ordering him to keep peace within his family. All this contributes to the atmosphere, and creates a lot of tension in the audience. This could easily create difficulties for Romeo and Juliet, as they are both influential figures in the two warring families.In Act 1, scene 3, we discover that Paris has proposed to Juliet as Lady Capulet says, ‘The valiant Paris seeks you for his love.’ This shows that Juliet’s mother considers Paris to be a perfect candidate for her daughter’s husband. Although Juliet is only thirteen years old, arranged marriages were common in Elizabethan times, especially when the woman is young. In return for his daughters hand in marriage, Capulet requests that Paris goes to the masked ball, ‘This night I hold an accustomed feast, whereto I have invited many a guest, such as I love; and you among the store.’ This shows that Capulet has accepted Paris’ marriage proposal by inviting him to an exclusive ball. This intrigue’s the audience, as they wait to see if Juliet will say ‘Yes’ to his proposal.As we have previously found out, Romeo has been rejected by Rosaline, ‘Well in that hit you miss. She’ll not be hit, with Cupid’s arrow.’ This shows that Romeo is feeling lovesick, as does, ‘Feather of lead, bright smoke, cold fire, sick health,’ and, ‘I am too sore empierced with [Cupid’s] shaft.’ This shows Shakespeare’s use of oxymoron’s, as he compares items to their opposites, a Benvolio insists that Rosaline should be compared to other and more attractive women, ‘By giving liberty unto thine eyes, Experience other beauties.’ This shows Benvolio’s relationship with Romeo, as he is concerned that he may become too depressed for other women to like him.There is a sense of confusion and intrigue in the audience, as we now know that Romeo cannot possibly fall in love with someone other than Rosaline. However, we know from the prologue that Romeo falls for Juliet. On the way to the masked ball, Shakespeare creates a sense of doom, which in Elizabethan times was very believable, as they believed strongly in fate. Mercutio tried to persuade Romeo that he should not go back into the Capulet mansion, as he would be caught. This again shows the closeness of their friendship, and how they look out for each other.At the start of Act 1, scene 5, we see the darkness of Capulet’s hall. This provokes a sense of fear and danger; this is foreshadowing, as we eventually find out that the ball is ultimately the beginning of the end for Romeo’s life. Sampson and Gregory are having a comical argument, prancing around the stage to enhance the lively mood of the ball. Shakespeare uses the minor characters of the play to enforce the feeling that it is a huge ball, with many guests. Sampson and Gregory issue a lot of commands, ‘Away with the joint-stools, remove the court-cupboard.’ This shows that they are trying to gain power over each other. ‘We cannot be here and there too,’ shows that they know they should not be there, and they should move in order to avoid suspicion.We then see the Capulet’s enter, who instantly impress the audience. Shakespeare uses words such as ‘dainty’ to emphasise Capulet’s good mood. Capulet tries to get everybody on their feet to dance, ‘Ah ha, my mistresses, which of you all, Will now deny to dance?’ shows this. We can tell that everything stopped when Capulet entered the room, because he orders the musicians to carry on playing, as if they had stopped, ‘Come musicians play.’We as the audience are fascinated by Capulet’s intimacy with other ladies, ‘I have worn a visor and could tell, a whispering tale in a fair lady’s ear.’ This shows that he is trying to entertain the crowd, again emphasising his jovial mood. He is insistent on making the crowd feel welcome, ‘And quench the fire, the room is grown too hot,’ shows that he is giving a warm welcome. When Romeo first see’s Juliet, he realises that it is love at first sight, ‘Who’s that lady that doth enrich the hand, Of yonder knight?’ This shows the danger involved in the situation, as he does not yet know whom she is. This part of the scene is strange, as it is set away from the hustle and bustle of the ball, in a dramatically set ‘private moment.’A lot of romantic imagery is used, ‘Oh she doth teach the torches to burn bright?’ and ‘It seems she hangs upon the cheek of night, As a rich jewel in an Ethiop’s ear,’ show how Juliet’s beauty makes her stand out in the crowd. It also refers to Romeo continuous comparisons of Juliet to light and dark. We realise that Romeo is overwhelmed by his sudden love for Juliet, ‘Did my heart love till now… For I ne’er saw true beauty till this night.’ This shows that he believes he has never seen anyone as beautiful as Juliet.Shakespeare raises the tension in the action enormously as Tybalt’s words are angry and full of hate upon seeing Romeo, ‘This by his voice, should be a Montague.’ The love poetry is replaced by the thought of violence and danger. He also prepares to fight, ‘Fetch me my rapier, boy,’ which further adds to the sense of danger.Shakespeare purposefully makes Tybalt’s words angry, in contrast to Romeo’s words of love. Tybalt remembers the fight from the morning, and hasn’t yet calmed down. Tybalt is very argumentative, especially with the dramatic re-introduction of death, ‘To strike him down I hold it not a sin.’ This shows that Tybalt doesn’t think killing Romeo is a sin, and is the right thing to do.The audience is anxiously wondering whether Tybalt will start a fight. Lord Capulet uses the term ‘storm’ to describe Tybalt’s anger, again showing how thunderous the atmosphere is becoming. Capulet ironically praises Romeo, calling him a ‘portly gentleman’ This adds to Capulet’s hidden nervousness, as he doesn’t want his reputation ruined by Tybalt and Romeo fighting. He also doesn’t want his nephew to be killed, given the Prince’s words earlier in the day. Capulet asks Tybalt to restrain his anger, if only for one night, ‘…put off these frowns, An ill-beseeming semblance for a feast.’However, the intensity rises again, as Tybalt refuses, ‘I’ll not endure him.’ We see that Capulet begins to get irritated with Tybalt, ‘He shall be endured. …Am I the master here or you?’ The audience are wondering if Lord Capulet can control his nephew. However, he finds controlling him difficult, ‘You are a saucy boy. …You are a princox…I’ll make you quiet.’ This shows Capulet is losing his temper. However, throughout the argument, Capulet carries on smiling and acting cheerful to his guests. Luckily, for Capulet, Tybalt withdraws, but Shakespeare only prolongs the tension, ‘I will withdraw, but his intrusion shall Now seeming sweet, convert to bitt’rest gall.’The action now returns to Romeo and Juliet, as they are in their own little world of love and virtue. To emphasise the quick change in mood, Shakespeare uses poetic sonnets to show their preoccupation with love, and refers to religion to compare the two, ‘My lips, two blushing pilgrims, ready stand To smooth that rough touch with a tender kiss.’ The repetitive kissing allows the audience to visually involve themselves in the play.Juliet’s Nurse then interrupts the romance, giving Romeo a chance to find out who exactly Juliet is, ‘I tell you, he that can lay hold of her, Shall have the chinks,’ is what the Nurse tells him. This creates tension in Romeo’s eye’s, as he knows now that she is the daughter of his family’s enemy. This makes the audience feel sympathetic, ‘My life is my foe’s debt.’ When Juliet realises who Romeo is, she reveals her despair, My only love sprung from my only hate.’ This shows that she is upset because her one true love comes from the family of her mortal enemy.This scene is very fast-paced, and makes everything seem as though everything is happening at the same time. On one side of the ballroom, there is an air of love, where Romeo and Juliet first meet, but on the other side, Tybalt shows his anger and hate for Romeo. Because there are two “separate” scenes, they’re a complete mix of emotions; Shakespeare also uses this scene to foreshadow the future doom of Romeo and Juliet, by unveiling very significant events, which will interfere with their lives.