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How does Arthur Miller use the climax of act 1 to create tension for the audience and present the key themes of the play?

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Introduction

How does Arthur Miller use the climax of act 1 to create tension for the audience and present the key themes of the play? In "A View From the Bridge", Arthur Miller explores a variety of themes in the relationships between the main characters in order to build tension for the audience. Firstly, through Eddie's talk with Alfieri, we can see that he is jealous of Rodolfo's relationship with Catherine, and his eventual loss of authority in his own house leads to anger and a desire to once again become the stereotypical alpha male. This creates tension because the audience knows that he will want his authority back, and as he gets more and more desperate, the audience may think that he would do anything to regain control over his household. Secondly, although early in the play Eddie appears to be overprotective of Catherine, the audience grows to see his hidden love for her, and he becomes either blind of his obsession with her, or just does not want to admit/see it. This helps to create tension because the suggestion of incest is highly tabooed in modern society, and the audience does not know if Eddie will act on his feelings. Moreover, there is more tension built in Eddie's relationship with Marco, as Eddie and the audience both have a moment of realisation at the very end of the first act that Eddie has met his ...read more.

Middle

This may suggest that Eddie does have Catherine's best interests in his mind, as he may feel that Rodolfo would not be able to look after or protect Catherine. This creates tension because up till now, it has been suggested that Eddie is only thinking about himself. Secondly, Eddie is shown to feel that he must maintain a high level of masculinity in order to keep authority in his household. He restricts any emotion that he might show; for example, he leaves when he feels Alfieri may see his emotion. This is shown by the stage directions: "He feels the threat of sobs, and with a helpless wave he goes out up the right ramp." This creates tension because if Eddie wishes to hide his emotion from everybody, including the man who he is most comfortable discussing private issues with, then he will have no form of release, and all his anger and frustration will build until it is so unbearable that he may unleash it on other characters. Tension is not only created by Eddie's love for Catherine, but also by the fact that he either hides it or is just blind of it himself. Miller suggests that he may be blind of his feelings when he shows Alfieri to say "His eyes were like tunnels;" this may suggest that Eddie has "tunnel-vision" which would imply, for example, that he has a narrow line of sight, or that he cannot see clearly. ...read more.

Conclusion

However, his attempts are to no avail as he is greatly pressured by Catherine and by Beatrice, who also wishes to show Eddie up at this time. Catherine is shown to say: "Come on." and Beatrice is shown to say: "Go ahead, dance." in approval. These create tension because it shows connotations of the fact that nobody agrees with Eddie, and this will upset him greatly, especially because his own wife has turned against him. Stage directions create tension for the audience in the next section as Eddie "has been unconsciously twisting the newspaper into a tight roll." This creates tension because he is so preoccupied with Rodolfo that he is unaware of what he is doing, as is suggested by the term "unconsciously". This short section climaxes quickly, as one line of dialogue later, the stage directions say: "He has bent the rolled paper and it suddenly tears into two." This creates tension because the audience may think that Eddie is pretending the newspaper is a limb of Rodolfo's, or something similar to that effect. It also creates tension because it suggests that Eddie is becoming closer to the point at which he can not sustain a calm nature for any longer. In conclusion, Arthur Miller creates tension in "A View From the Bridge" by exploring many themes. These include: masculinity, incest, pride, love, jealousy and obsession. Miller successfully uses these themes to build huge climaxes at many points throughout the play, and create vast quantities of tension for the audience. Ian Marder ...read more.

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