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How does Miller create dramatic tension between Marco and Eddie at the end of Act One?

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Introduction

How does Miller create dramatic tension between Marco and Eddie at the end of Act One? So far in the play Marco and Rodolfo have illegally immigrated to America, seeking shelter with their cousin Beatrice and her husband Eddie. Living with them is Catherine, their niece, who falls head over heels in love with Rodolfo. Eddie is not happy, as he is incredibly overprotective of Catherine. This overprotectiveness turns to jealousy, which turns into an obsession. At the end of Act One all five characters are in the living room, sharing a cosy after dinner chat. At this point of "A View From The Bridge" Eddie is feeling intensely jealous of Rodolfo and he doesn't really understand why. He talks to Alfieri about it, yet Alfieri seems to immediately understand what is going on and just before this scene hints at the bloody outcome of this tale. Marco, too, recognizes Eddie's feelings for Catherine, though he appears to be the only one in the family who sees it. The premonition in Alfieri's soliloquy make the audience think. ...read more.

Middle

Then his "grin vanishes as he absorbs the look". This creates tension by emphasising Eddie's preoccupation with himself. The audience would be willing for him to realize what is going on, for him to realize that this is not just a show of strength. When he finally gets it, the audience can then relax. Miller's stage directions contribute by calling attention to Eddie's self-absorption because, as mentioned in the previous paragraph, he does not notice the thinly veiled threat until eye contact is made. All of the things that add to the tension are in the stage directions rather than the dialogue. Alfieri's soliloquy's before the end of Act One all hint at the inevitably violent end of the play, mostly by direct references, such as "bloody course" and "I knew where it was going to end". The story, by being told in a series of flashbacks, also adds to the tension, once again by emphasising the unavoidable conclusion. ...read more.

Conclusion

This time the tension is there because the audience cannot understand why the characters do not see what they can see so clearly. If this play was not set in 1940's Brooklyn and was instead set in modern England, for example, where the sense of community is much less, the dramatic tension would not exist. In fact the situation would probably not have arisen at all. Catherine would have had more freedom, Eddie and Beatrice would have attended marriage counselling and most likely Marco and Rodolfo could have immigrated legally. The play would be quite boring. In conclusion, many things contribute to the tension at the end of Act One. It would be nearly impossible to have the same sort of tension if just one aspect of the play was changed. The tension would probably remain but it would be utterly different. It could be more or less effective than the way it is now, but I feel it would be more likely that a master playwright like Arthur Miller would understand what he was doing, and would try and make the play as dramatic as he could, to get his point across. ...read more.

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