How Arthur Miller Creates Tension in A View From The Bridge

How Arthur Miller Creates Tension in A View From The Bridge

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Show how Arthur Miller creates a tense atmosphere at the end of act one of ‘A View From The Bridge’

In the play ‘A View From The Bridge’ there are many ingredients that finish with the final dish at the end. Usually, when you know the ingredients to a dish, you could guess what it would taste like or look like. Basically, there are many pressure points in the play that lead to the final outcome, and that outcome is very obvious. The audience would not be surprised when they get to the end, many would see it coming from far.

The play is set in New York, in the Red Hook neighborhood in the borough of Brooklyn, next to the docks. It’s a quiet simple community of Italian immigrants, who follow an unwritten respectful Italian law. The Italians keep to themselves pretty much as they feel as though they have been separated from their Italian roots. The ‘unwritten law’ requires for everyone to be respected, and it also encourages revenge, as it shows in the play. This Sicilian Code Of Conduct consists of honor, marriage, family well being, revenge hospitality, love, respect and strictly no snitching. The Sicilian Code Of Conduct shows all sorts of good things that also relate to the philosopher’s idea of a good and honest life. If Eddie could have stuck to this advice, and kept his feelings and anger to himself (which would have been impossible for Eddie), everything would have turned out better.

Italy represents homeland, origin and culture for the citizens of Red Hook. But Italy represents different things to the main characters in the play, for example Catherine associates Italy with mystery, romance and beauty, but Rodolpho on the other hand is actually form Italy, and thinks it is a place with little opportunity, that he feels justified from escaping from. All of the characters appreciate the benefits of living in the US, but still strongly hold to Italian traditions. Italy is the basis of the cultural traditions in Red Hook, and it serves as a touchstone to unite the community, with their own laws and customs.



The main areas of tension are when, Eddie gets frustrated when Rodolpho tells him lemons are green, Eddie is rude about Italian wives, Eddie tells Rodolpho that America is as strict as Italy, Catherine asks Rodolpho to dance, Eddie claims that Rodolpho is not a real man, Eddie punches Rodolpho, Rodolpho asks Catherine to dance and the last one is when Marco raises a chair over his head as warning.

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In the play, when Eddie says to Marco that he has heard that oranges in Italy are green, and they have to paint them to make them look orange, Marco says that oranges are in fact orange, and not green. Rodolpho tells Eddie that lemons are green, and Eddie gets really angry and replies, “I know lemons for Christ’s sake, you see them in the store and they’re green sometimes. I said oranges they paint, I didn’t say nothin’ about lemons”. When Marco replied to Eddie, Eddie did not say anything but when Rodolpho replied in a similar way, Eddie was furious. This shows that Eddie is tolerable to Marco but totally the opposite with Rodolpho, which means he has got something against him. Eddie uses the words ‘for Christ’s sake’, which is mild profanities, and it shows that Eddie is very annoyed with Rodolpho. This quotation tells the audience that something big is going to happen at the end of the play. The audience can tell that Eddie is trying to make Rodolpho feel useless and stupid, especially because Rodolpho made him look stupid by saying such an obvious thing like ‘lemons are green’. This creates tension in the play because Eddie is being rude to Rodolpho, which is strictly against the Sicilian Code Of Conduct. In this scene, all the characters are angry. Catherine and Beatrice are angry because Eddie is not treating Rodolpho as he should do, Marco is angry because Eddie is insulting his bother, and is against the Sicilian Code Of Conduct. This needs revenge. Rodolpho is angry because Edie is being rude to him and making him feel like a fool, but Rodolpho is not seeking revenge (even though the Sicilian Code Of Conduct would advise so), as he does not want to arouse any arguments or it might lead to terrible events. It makes the audience think ‘How are these people going to manage living in the same house any longer? Someone is bound to loose their temper’.

Eddie says, “It ain’t so free here either, Rodolpho”. Rodolpho reckons that in America it’s more ‘free’. The word ‘free’ in this case means more free to go out with someone really easily, without permission. This creates tension because Eddie is scolding Rodolpho for ‘dragging’ Catherine off without his permission. Eddie is making everyone feel awkward and silencing them off. The audience therefore are also silent and waiting for the imminent.

Knowing Eddie’s hatred towards Rodolpho, Catherine shows her rebellious side of herself by asking Rodolpho to dance with her. Beatrice also stands up to Eddie when Rodolfo refuses to dance with Catherine, she encourages him to dance. She says “Go ahead, dance, Rodolpho. At this point in the play the audience are made aware of both Catherine and Beatrice’s defiance towards Eddie and also their dislike of Eddie’s opinion. They can tell that Eddie is burning up inside, but not saying anything this time. Arthur Miller has used this situation to create a tenser atmosphere in the play it is set in a household where culture and tradition are very important and one of the most important thing of this particular culture is the respect a woman should have for a man, which is not shown in this scene.

After Eddie ‘accidentally’ punched Rodolpho, Marco raises a chair over his head like a weapon (looks as though he is about to hit Eddie), silently but painfully telling Eddie not to insult Rodolpho like he was. This acts as a warning to Eddie from Marco saying ‘Don’t be horrible to my brother, or else…’ This injects fear into audience as they are indicated about the fight yet to come.


In end scene, Eddie takes his own life with his own knife,
is symbolic of the self-destructive nature that led to such an ending.
As Arthur Miller wished to write 'a modern Greek tragedy´ in which the dagger represents Eddie’s ruthless nature, which lead him
to his drastic actions and eventually death. During the confrontation
earlier in the play Marco raised a chair like a weapon, which shows of
the fight yet to come. Rodolpho danced with Catherine when she had
previously been by no man but Eddie, and Eddie feels as though Rodolpho is taking her from Eddie’s grasp, stealing her, without permission. Anyway, permission is not the main reason why Eddie does not like Rodolpho, it is because he loves Catherine, but Catherine loves Rodolpho instead, which makes him jealous of Rodolpho.
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