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How does Miller use Eddie to create dramatic tension for the audience in 'A View From A Bridge'?

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Introduction

English Coursework- How does Miller use Eddie to create dramatic tension for the audience in 'A View From A Bridge'? We could say that 'A View from a bridge,' is a tragedy for a number of reasons. Most importantly, if we compare the work of Arthur Miller to a Greek tragedy, we can immediately draw a parallel. In a Greek tragedy, the hero or protagonist always has a fatal flaw or harmatia in his character. This causes him to make a bad decision, or to commit an unnatural act, which then spirals into the characters peripeteia or eventual downfall. He must then learn his mistake, suffer for his unnatural act and (usually) die. Another important characteristic of a Greek tragedy is the chorus. Usually a single character takes this role and is used to summarize the play, introduce new characters, and explain any action taking place. The two important things that make the chorus speaker different from an ordinary character are that he can speak directly with the audience, but cannot intervene at any point in the play- a useful device for creating dramatic tension. The idea of a tragic protagonist is illustrated in 'A View from a bridge,' using Eddie Carbone, a typical 'Joe Bloggs' created by Miller to illustrate an ordinary person, or representative of a nation or class. Eddie is a very ordinary man, decent, hard working and charitable, a man no one could dislike. This is significant because it causes the audience to feel both pity and fear for the character of Eddie. However, like the protagonist of an ancient drama, he has a fatal flaw or harmatia, in the form of the lust he harbors for his niece Catherine. Eddie does not really understand his improper desire for Catherine, and thus is unable to hide it from those around him or from the audience. In him, we see this primitive impulse naked, or exposed. ...read more.

Middle

In the extract when Rodolpho sings, we see Eddie intentionally create an uncomfortable or 'charged' atmosphere by telling Rodolpho to stop in case they get 'picked up', when really it is Eddie himself who is uncomfortable with this person, that he considers to be deviating from his own categorised ideas of how men should behave. Marco on the other hand, seems of little threat to Eddie in Act 1, and treats Eddie with the respect Eddie believes he is owed. When Marco says for example, 'I want to tell you now Eddie when you say we go, we go,' we can see the effort Marco is making to maintain trust and respect between the two parties. He is letting Eddie feel in control of the situation, and is attempting to oblige Eddie. This however, is of course, not the case, as we know by the end of the play. Marco also seems older, as we gather from his formal behaviour and stiffness. Eddie feels no threat from Marco and so focuses his attentions on Rodolpho. Eddie wants to prove to Rodolpho in particular, that he is the man of the house and that the women are beneath him. We get a sense of this when Eddie sits in his rocker while Catherine fetches the coffee. This is an important connotation of the way Eddie views himself in the family unit. He sits like a king on his throne, surveying his territory, and considers his role to above the station of helping with classically stereotyped women's work. This also shows how Eddie wants to be viewed by visitors to his house. He is showing off, displaying how well 'his' women treat him, and trying to make Rodolph and Marco jealous or to show that he is above them in status. This reveals to the audience a little of Eddie's true persona. More of Eddie's true opinions and views are revealed, during his interview with Alfieri, when several differences in their respective viewpoints are explored. ...read more.

Conclusion

In the final confrontation between Eddie and Marco, tension builds for the audience as the tables are turned, and although Eddie started the fight by producing the knife, he is the one that dies. This also links to Eddie's self destructive edge, as he has died, to quote the old expression, 'by his own sword.' The knife is also symbolic of his fatal flaw, which leads to his eventual downfall. His flaw has drawn him slowly toward his final act of violence, but it is the knife that kills him in the end. Eddie's 'murderous eyes' pre-empt the murder, and give a sense of static electricity, as we feel the tension build. Act 1 is similar in structural layout to Act 2, as both start to contain violence. In Act 1 when Eddie rubs his fists together, and then in Act 2 when he cracks his knuckles, both these actions are an exaggerated cry of the violence to come. The boxing in particular, the challenge Marco sets with the chair, pre-empt the murder, and violence in the very end scene. However, Act 2 is different, because in the final confrontation, Marco, not Rodolpho, challenges Eddie, turning the tables as the audience expected Rodolpho to be involved in the penultimate scene. The pace within the scene also keeps the dramatic tension high. The pace speeds up, event after event, throughout Act 2, as though the play is gathering momentum, moving toward the inevitable conclusion. Eddie's death creates tension, as it raises several questions within the audience's minds. After Eddie's death, the audience feels shocked and can't grasp what is happening. We feel pity for Eddie, as his crime is disproportionate to his flaw. Since we have witnessed Eddie drop his own morals during his fall from grace, we empathise with him, as we know that deep down he is not evil. Alexa Downing 10:9 ...read more.

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