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How Does Arthur Miller Build Tension In The Final Scene Of Act I In A View From The Bridge?

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Introduction

Ali Rana 11MW How Does Arthur Miller Build Tension In The Final Scene Of Act I In A View From The Bridge? This essay outlines the various techniques used by Arthur Miller to build tension in the final scene of Act I in a 'View From The Bridge'. This essay discusses the main conflicts which are arisen from the discussion at the table to the chair lifting contest. The play is set in New York in the 1920's and is about an Italian family. Two members of the family, Marco and Rodolfo, are illegal immigrants. Eddie is one of the main characters who likes Marco and Rodolfo from the start but then begins to dislike them near the end of the play. Rodolfo likes Catherine, who is Eddie's niece, and Beatrice is Eddie's wife. Before the scene begins Alfieri, who is the family's lawyer, speaks in his role of Greek chorus, to the audience, forewarning them of the tragedy, which later unfolds. Arthur Miller uses Alfieri's soliloquy to heighten tension. Alfieri sums up what has happened so far in the play by saying, 'It wasn't as though there was a mystery to unravel.' Therefore telling us, the audience, he knows what is going to happen. ...read more.

Middle

But even then, Beatrice challenges Eddie's authority in front of everyone, 'well tell him honey, (to Eddie), the movie ended late.' This is offensive to Eddie as he expects support from his wife. Catherine, too, defies Eddie as we, the audience, have seen her loyalty gradually shift from Eddie to Rodolfo by her dancing with Rodolfo, 'You wanna dance Rodolfo?' This makes Eddie irritated as he is humiliated by his own niece, who he has brought up as his own daughter. This also heightens tension and makes Eddie full of rage. Quite a significant part of the play revolves around masculinity, or homosexuality, which is regarded by Eddie in particular as being the absence of masculinity. This creates tension as Eddie believes himself to be a real man, and part of this is by questioning the masculinity of anyone he feels is a threat to him. By now, Eddie has had enough. He openly suggests that Rodolfo is homosexual. For example, "I can't cook, I can't sing, I can't make dresses, so I'm, on the waterfront. But if I could..... I wouldn't be on the waterfront. I would be some place else. I would be in a dress store.' ...read more.

Conclusion

Marco does not say anything, so it is just the gesture which is as effective as the audience sees the chair, 'raised like a weapon' over Eddie's head, symbolising the destruction he will shortly bring on himself. Marco is challenging Eddie to a kind of test just as Eddie, himself, challenged Rodolfo. Marco's test is a kind of silent warning to Eddie and is particularly dramatic because Marco is normally a quiet, self-contained and restrained figure and his action signals, and foreshadows violence. He has exposed to his own strength and the silent action fills the audience with foreboding as we realise that Eddie has gone too far. We, the audience, are made more aware of the power of family loyalty and also of the potential for passion that is involved in these relationships. The scene ends on a climax of physical tension. This creates anticipation for the audience. As Act II begins, we find another contrast in the atmosphere as the light goes up on Alfieri. After the immediate passionate and confused actions and words of the previous scene, we now have the opportunity to reflect on the implications of what is happening. We, the audience have been involved as spectators and now we are challenged to make judgement. Eddie appeals to our hearts and emotions but now we are invited by Alfieri to judge with our heads. ...read more.

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