Dramatic tension

“A View From the Bridge” by Arthur Miller: Show how Miller presents and develops the relationships between the main characters, increasing the dramatic tension to build up to an explosive and moving climax. From the narratorial introduction made by the lawyer Alfieri our appetites are whetted by a mysterious “Bloody course” that is anticipated. Right from the beginning of the book there is dramatic tension that leaves the audience questioning what is going to happen, and what is the “Bloody course” implying?

The first characters Miller presents to the audience are Catherine and Eddie Carbone. Eddie plays the part of a surrogate father to the young Catherine whose mother and father have passed away. Eddie plays a very important part in Catherine’s life, as he is “responsible” for her because of the promise he made to her late mother on her deathbed; so they have quite a strong relationship whereby Catherine respects him and treats him like a father. At first we see Eddie to be quite an overprotective father who sees the naivety of Catherine and tries to explain to her the fact that she’s,

“Getting to be a big girl, you got to keep yourself more, can’t be so friendly” Eddie still sees her as a “baby” and does not seem to be able to handle the fact that she is growing up and wants to be noticed by boys. Catherine’s character is presented to the audience as happy and confident, but maybe a bit forward. Eddie sees the craving of attention when she is “Walking wavy” like she is of selling her body to the opposite sex. Eddie does not like the fact that the boys “Heads are turnin’ like windmills.” This conversation takes place early in the first act into the story and already there has been a change in relationship whereby the audience question Eddie being jealous of the younger boys. Catherine is na�ve about Eddie’s reactions and sees nothing of it.

The second relationship to be presented by Miller is that between Eddie Carbone and his wife Beatrice. The first image we see of their relationship is of the two of them worrying about each other. Beatrice tells Eddie, “I’m just worried about you.” This builds up the dramatic tension as, we ask, what is Beatrice worried about? The dramatic effects add to the tension as she is looking into his eyes as if there is something to worry about. I think this is effective in the play as in the version we watched there is a close up between the husband and wife with the two of them showing consideration towards one another with Beatrice looking out for Eddie and Eddie trying to calm Beatrice, as she feels “nervous”.

When Catherine and Beatrice tell Eddie that Catherine has got a job, the effectiveness of the drama on the video is not as strong as the emotions in the stage directions when Beatrice tells Eddie the “Good news.” Once again we see Eddie take the role of the overprotective parent making out that the people who she will be working around are not good enough for her, Eddie explains to Catherine “that ain’t what I had in mind” and he wants her “to be with different kind of people” even though he is a longshoremen himself and in reality he is only putting himself down. Eddie is there to look after Catherine and does not want to see her get hurt. His views on the job may come from knowing what the men are like down by the navy ships and thinks “They’ll chew her to pieces if she don’t watch out.”

Dramatic tension is built up again when Beatrice sides with Catherine. Beatrice stands up for Catherine. Her stage directions become more aggressive towards Eddie when he does not seem to be listening to her: ‘she turns his face to her’, and her voice comes with ‘sympathy but insistent force’. This source of tension shows Beatrice to be overpowering but she is the only family member to recognise Eddie is being too overprotective. She sees the problem of him not being able to let go of Catherine.

There arises an issue of “trust.” Eddie tells Catherine, “Don’t trust nobody. You got a good aunt but she’s got too big a heart, you learned bad from here” But then Beatrice quickly follows with “Be the way you are” and tells Catherine not to “Listen to him.” The confrontation between the family members shows their relationships to be loving but conflicting. Once they are all around the dinner table Eddie brings up the incident about Vinny Bolzano who “snitched to the immigration” about his uncle who was in hiding in his family’s house.

The immigration officers came round, “They grabbed him in the kitchen and pulled him down the stairs-three flights his head was bouncin’ like a coconut. And they spit on him in the street, his own father and his brothers” This shows the importance of family and loyalty in the Sicilian community. It also shows what happens to those who betray. This whets the audience’s appetite as we now become aware of the dangers of keeping an illegal immigrant and looks forward to what Eddie will do and it foreshadows the end of the play.

Later on that night the illegal immigrants arrive. The way Miller uses Alfieri to introduce them is very effective, as he talks about Eddie being a “good a man as he had to be in a life that was hard and even”. When reading this I feel as if something bad is going to happen because Alferie is making out that Eddie is a good, clean man and something is bound to happen to him for taking in illegal immigrants.

The stage directions and the cousin’s actions put images into our minds of what they look like; Marco ‘Is a square built peasant of thirty two, suspicious, tender, and quiet-voiced’. Marco’s actions towards the Carbone family prove him to be a very respectable man as when he meets his cousin, Beatrice, ‘He kisses her hand’. Rodolpho is made out to be a young man who is nave, when standing outside the Carbone’s house he says, “This will be the first house I ever walked into in America! Imagine!” Marco shows to the audience that he has to look after Rodolpho and tells him to be quiet.

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