Miller uses the climax of act 1 to create tension for the audience through the acting and the situation the characters are in, and to present the key themes of the play to the audience. Firstly, he uses dramatic irony to give the audience an insight into how the story is going to end, which creates frustration and tension for them, as although they can see how the story is developing, the characters can’t, this ties in with the theme of a Greek tragedy where there is a predestined conclusion. He uses the fact that in the 1950’s and especially in dockside and urban households, masculinity and being the ‘man of the house’ was a huge part of family life.
He combines this with Eddies desire to control and obsession with authority, to put the audience on a knife-edge, as to when one of the characters will lose control and lash out. Miller also expands on the situation of relationships in the play, both within the family, and outside. This ties in with Eddie’s apparently incestuous feelings for Catherine, and this creates suspense and tension throughout the audience, as they don’t know what is going to happen about it.
Stage Directions, play a large part of ‘A View From The Bridge’, as they give it the final touches which create tension for both the characters and the audience, they help show what a character is feeling, which allows the audience to empathize with the character, making it all the more believable and therefore creating more tension as they want to know what will happen. Alfieri’s monologue is also a main contributing factor to the tension, which slowly builds throughout the entire scene. The audience share Alfieri’s perspective, which creates tension as they feel more sympathy for the characters as they are watching the play in what surmounts to a series of flashbacks, with a predetermined conclusion, so they know the ending, while the characters do not, causing a feeling of frustration.
The use of Alferi’s Monologue right at the beginning of the scene we are studying helps to create tension right from the very start. The line, “I could have finished the whole story that afternoon. It wasn’t as though there was a mystery to solve” shows that he knows what is going to happen and that he does not think that there is any mystery in it and that it is a very definite ending. The fact that he “could have finished the story that afternoon” may mean that it is quite direct and that Eddie will finally snap. The entire speech by Alferi is moving the story along and is creating anticipation for the audience by showing them a sense of tragic inevitability, although they do not know exactly what the out come will be.
This has connotations of a Greek tragedy, whereby the main character is brought down by misfortune caused by a mistake made by them. At the beginning of his talk with Alferi, Eddie is said to have “eyes like tunnels,” this implies that Eddie has tunnel vision, which means that he can only see down the one path that he wants to, which creates a sense of dramatic irony for the audience, as the reason Eddie went to see Alferi is to get advice and another point of view.
This shows how strongly Eddie feels about this as he has let his feelings cloud his vision, and also creates tension, not only for the fact that he loves Catherine, but that he hides it from himself. Eddie then uses as an argument against Rodolfo that he can, “see it in his (Rodolfo’s) eyes; he’s laughing at her and he’s laughing at me,” this again creates a sense of irony for the audience, as just before it seemed that Eddie could not see properly, and his eyes were blind to what he wants, yet he was saying that he can see into Rodolfo’s eyes. This could make the audience resent Eddie, as although he cannot see what is wrong with himself, he still feels the need to question others.
Moreover, Alferi’s reference to the “passion that had moved into his body, like a stranger,” could be symbolic of Marco and Rodolfo, who in Eddie’s view had moved into his life and messed it up, reducing his relationship with both his wife and his niece, and messed with his mind. Blindness and a refusal to accept his love for Catherine may be implied again when Alferi is shown to say that Catherine, “Cannot possibly marry you (Eddie), can she?”
Eddie then blows up at Alferi, and is, as the stage directions show “furiously,” shown to say: “What’re you talking about, marry me! I don’t know what the hell you’re talking about!” this could show that Eddie cannot accept even the slightest proposal from someone else that he might love, or want a relationship with Catherine, as he cannot even accept it himself, or does not want to admit to his feelings to anyone, even though the rest of the characters and the audience can both see them clearly.
The fact that Alferi’s suggestion is met with such anger may imply that Eddie’s reason has been over come by his incestuous feelings for his niece. Alternatively, it may be a result of Eddie’s jealous feelings towards Rodolfo, and him feeling insecure about his role of a surrogate father to Catherine and that Rodolfo may be taking her away from him. The exploration of the theme of tragic inevitability in Eddie’s discussion with Alferi creates a sense of tension among the audience. Miller Reinforces the fact that there is nothing Eddie can do about Catherine and Rodolfo by repeating the fact that there is “nothing” Eddie can do, and that there is “nothing you (Eddie) can do.”
As the audience already have the idea that Eddie is of a rash state of mind, and is not the most balanced person, they will know that Eddie will not stand for this and will do something without the law backing him up. If it is not legal then it is probably going to be something quite drastic and possibly violent. Moreover, the audience do not know when Eddie will finally do something; this keeps them in suspense throughout the whole play.