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How does arthur miller establish character and atmosphere in the openeing scene?

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Introduction

How does Arthur Miller establish character and atmosphere in the opening scene? Arthur Miller worked in the Brooklyn shipyard for two years, where he befriended the Italians he worked alongside. He heard a story of some men coming over to work illegally and being betrayed. The story inspired 'A view from the bridge'. 'A view from the bridge' has power and substance. Its ideas are based upon the influence of sentiments and the ill-fated results of some emotions. Its foundation is built on the establishment of the protagonist and the atmosphere- and the feeling and suspicion they generate, by which effects the key events in the play taking place and how personal relationships dictate the way one leads ones life and about peoples struggles to do what is right. The establishment of character and atmosphere in the opening scene is both essential and effective in various outlooks such as bringing the play to life at a time that is regarded as vitally crucial to successfully appeal to the audience and construct the play to accustom the atmosphere, feelings and tensions. The play opens with the lawyer Alfieri, who sets the scene. He talks about justice and how, sometimes, justice is dealt with outside the law. He says he has a timeless story to tell - one that ran a "bloody course" he was powerless to prevent- and introduces its hero, Eddie Carbone. This prepares the audience for a plot to unravel and leaves them at a cliff hangar with a lesson to learn. Characters revolve around the 'highlighted' character of Eddie, a 'forty' year old, 'husky and slightly overweight longshoreman working the docks from Brooklyn Bridge to the breakwater'. Other key characters include Alfieri, Catherine, Beatrice, Marco and Rodolpho, although we do not see Marco and Rodolpho in the opening scene. Alfieri is a wise 'lawyer in his fifties turning gray' who is a friend of Eddie. ...read more.

Middle

Eddie's final need to secure or retrieve his good name from Marco is a result of Eddie's failure to protect Catherine from Marco. Eddie fails in his life, but seeks redemption and victory in death. By avenging Marco, Eddie believes he will regain his pride in the community- another wholly self-interested act. Eddie escaped restraint because he escaped all thoughts of other people or the community at large. Eddie's "wholeness" is a whole interest in him. Eddie's tragic flaw is the bubble, the constructed world he exists within, but is unable to escape or recognize. The dram builds up when Eddie finds out about Catherine's new job as it shows his protective side and shows the other ill-fated emotions of his character. This is important as it starts the chronological chain of emotions which lead to the general outline of Eddies declining fortune, which soon leads to his death and this is something that Arthur Miller tries to show to the audience. Although throughout the play, Beatrice has utmost respect for Eddie, Eddie doesn't want to seem to see it this way. During an argument Eddie tells Beatrice ' I want my respect', then a little while after says ' I don't like the way you talk to me, Beatrice'. He doesn't want to admit to himself that he knows Beatrice is only looking out for Catherine's best interests (going to work, going out with Rodolpho). He just sees Beatrice against him, therefore she is losing respect. In the Italian community, a wife should do as her husband says and what Eddie says, is correct. Things like this drive him further in his want for Catherine; he is acting on Instinct, not thinking rationally. Arthur Miller has done well with using the protagonist and his test of circumstances to determine the tragic flaw and confirm the tragic genre of this play. After Eddie, Alfieri is probably the most important role in the play. ...read more.

Conclusion

Eddie uses a naturalistic Brooklyn slang ("quicker" for "more quickly", "stole" for "stolen" and so on). His speech is simple, but at the start of the play is more colourful, as he tells Catherine she is "walkin' way" and as he calls her "Madonna". Catherine's speech is more often in grammatically standard forms, but not always. Her meekness is shown in the frequency which her speeches begin with "yeah", agreeing with, or qualifying, Eddie's comments. Rodolpho speaks with unnatural exactness. The words are all English but the phrases are not idiomatic. He recalls vivid details of his life in Sicily, and he is given to poetic comparisons, as when he likens Catherine to "a little bird" that has not been allowed to fly. Marco has to think before she can speak in whole phrases or sentences; this means he says little, which, on stage, reinforces two ideas: that Marco is thoughtful and that he is a man of action rather than words. In my opinion Arthur Miller has used various and distinctive devices to establish character and atmosphere with his view of Realism. He has been successful throughout the whole establishment of the structures within the play. We know he was successful in producing an excellent standard of a play to his target audience making it appealing and eye-catching to them. The first scene of Act One was very important and substantial to the play as it was a major stepping stone and contributor to the rest of the play being able to take place. Many feelings and tensions were born in the first scene which later grew up to produce an impact on the play. I think and strongly feel that the first scene makes it apparent that the play will end in tragedy. It hints and gives away the rest of the play while only giving the readers the early years of the emotions in the first scene. Arthur Miller has used the methods and techniques available wisely. A strongly written play. ...read more.

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