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
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. It
makes them ask question like who’s going to die? How are they going to
die? Why are they going to die? The audience want to know the answers
to all of these questions right at the beginning of the play and will
start to guess what will happen, yet they have to pay attention to
understand what is going on and make predictions.
The personalities of the characters greatly affect the tension of this
part of the play. For example, if Marco were not so silent and still,
his threat would not be so obvious. When he “takes a chair, places it
in front of Eddie, and looks down at it” it is a contrast to his
natural behaviour. Eddie, however, still does not get it, as he
believes that the world revolves around him. It is not until Marco “transforms
what might appear like a glare of warning into a smile of triumph”
that he notices anything unusual. Eddie is far too wrapped up in his
hatred of Rodolfo to notice any subtleties, until eye contact is made.
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.