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How Does Arthur Miller Create tension in "A View from the Bridge"?

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Introduction

How Does Arthur Miller Create tension in "A View from the Bridge"? "All the plays that I was trying to write were plays that would grab an audience by the throat and not release them, rather than presenting an emotion which you could observe and walk away" - Arthur Miller.1 Unedited raw emotion is the essence of dramatic performances, a quality films and books lack. It's being able to acknowledge all the hard work and effort gone into the performances, every little detail, from stage directions to lighting, being rehearsed over and over again; the experience of being able to interact with the performers; the group reactions and atmosphere, this is what makes a play special. Taking place in the late 1950s in America, A View from the Bridge is set in the Italian-American community of dockworkers and longshoremen of New York's Brooklyn harbour, where Miller himself previously worked. The waterfront was populated and worked by people who were paid poorly and in many cases only recent immigrants to the United States, having come to America in the hope of work and wealth. The protagonist of A View from the Bridge is Eddie Carbone, a well respected longshoreman. He lives with his wife Beatrice and niece, Catherine, whom he has an incestuous lust for. Eddie's unnatural love for Catherine creates problems when Beatrice's cousins Marco and Rodolpho illegally immigrate over from Italy, and Catherine and Rodolpho fall in love. It is narrated in a series of flashbacks by an Italian-American lawyer, Alfieri, who is powerless to stop it run its "bloody course". Throughout the play, there is a constant conflict between community customs and American law. ...read more.

Middle

Marco is a man of actions rather than words, and is often silent. He has difficulty speaking English which also adds to his belief in actions speaking louder than words. Marco came to the U.S.A out of love for his family and clearly misses them, and also feels a responsibility for Rodolpho, as well as the community. When Eddie attempts a joke about the "surprises" awaiting men in Italy after working in the U.S.A for many years, Marco corrects him and sees nothing funny in the suggestion. In the first act when Marco raises the chair like a weapon to threaten Eddie, it allows him to express an idea wish he would not wish to put into words. At first it is Rodolpho who Eddie wants to eliminate, but after Marco spits in his face and announces "I accuse that one" when Eddie's betrays them and calls the authorities, Eddie's war is with the elder brother. In effect, a challenge has been issued by Marco, "Marco's got my name." and contradicting Marco is Eddie's only way of trying to recover his lost name. Marco feels very strongly about family values and tells Alfieri that in his home country Eddie would already be dead for what he has done, and feels even more strongly than Eddie does the values which Eddie expresses in telling the story of Vinnie Bolzano, the "stool pigeon". Being the 1940s, Catherine and Beatrice are often restricted by Eddie as head of the household. Catherine feels obliged to obey him because he has been like a father to her, and doesn't think its right if he does not agree with her marriage to Rodolpho. ...read more.

Conclusion

Alfieri is at battle with himself, not knowing how involved he should get. He repeatedly tells Eddie not to get involved, to let Catherine go. As Eddie contemplates betrayal, Alfieri reads his mind and warns him: "You won't have a friend in the world...put it out of your mind." At the end of a scene, as the light goes up on Alfieri, the audience is challenged to make a judgement. A View from the Bridge is not a pleasant play nor is it meant to be. I personally enjoyed it because it was gripping, and there are subtle metaphors scattered throughout. The issues represented still apply to this day, trust being tested now more than ever. It leaves philosophical and moral questions lingering in our mind, such as who is responsible for Eddie's death? It could be argued that Beatrice and Catherine played a part to Eddie's downfall, however I would disagree. They couldn't be blamed for Eddie's attraction and lust for Catherine, because preventing love is impossible. A View from the Bridge couldn't end any other way, if Eddie had not died, he would have suffered humiliation and shame for the rest of his life, which would probably lead to suicide, death being inevitable. Would I be able to cope in his position and resist that act of desperation? In all honesty, I don't think I could, it's just a matter of time until the wall of denial would crumble, eventually giving in to acceptance and desperation. A View from the Bridge is a well written play; it appeals to our hearts, but makes us think with our heads. 1 Beginning quote from A View from the Bridge, Arthur Miller, Heineman plays Back cover ?? ?? ?? ?? 1 ...read more.

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