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A View from the Bridge:
How does Miller create Dramatic Tension?
This scene appears as the closing scene of Act 1, the end of the first act.
In this scene, Miller creates a “fight” between Eddie and Rodolfo, a dance shared between Rodolfo and Catherine and a “lifting of the chair” done by Marco, so that Eddie may see who the real physically dominant one of in the room is.
Miller creates dramatic tension through Eddie’s words. His sarcasm is apparent and it is obvious that there are hidden meanings, subtexts in his speech when reading between the lines. He tries to demonstrate Rodolfo’s sexuality and his own in different parts of the scene, that can only be interpreted, when one realizes that he has a mounting dislike for Rodolfo. Miller uses many words to show that Eddie has nothing but contempt towards Rodolfo’s questioned sexuality. He answers Catherine’s offer to make coffee with the reference to “nice and strong”, an obvious hint of masculinity, and when he speaks of boxing, he immediately turns to Marco “You wait Marco, you see some real fights here”, as if he wanted Marco to back him up.
Miller sets the scene in the dining room, a dining room in blue-collar working class Brooklyn; it is given that the room is both cramped and small, the people are close together and tension is high-too high. It is emotionally charged and a “fight”, an offer from Eddie to teach Rodolfo how to box is put in the spotlight. It were almost as if this small and emotionally charged (emotionally strained) room, soon to set the scene for the fight was Miller’s way of saying in Eddie’s perspective that “there’s not enough room for the both of us in here”.
But as Eddie’s way to challenge Rodolfo is with a fight, (once again reference to masculinity, physical strength, Eddie’s uncouth actions; “he rubs the back of his hand across his mouth”, rubbing his fists together”) Rodolfo’s rise to the challenge is through attacking Eddie at where it hurts most; his sore spot, the real reason this scene came about in the first place, the real reason behind Eddie’s contempt for Rodolfo: Catherine. To say to Eddie that “I’m a lover, not a fighter” by dancing with Catherine, (“Dance, Catherine, come”) Rodolfo knew would be a harder blow on Eddie, far worse than any physical punch. Thus, when Rodolfo and Catherine dance, these are one of the highest points of tension during the scene.
But Miller is not done, as there is someone sitting in a far corner of the room in isolation as the scene is being carried out “Marco take a chair, places it in front of Eddie and looks down at it.” Throughout the beginning part of the scene Marco had been anticipating for something to happen, he begins to suspect Eddie behind his “I’ll show you a coupla passes” exterior. With a deadly look fixed upon his face, he lifts the chair at an angle to show Eddie, (who fails to life the chair) who the real physically dominant man of the house really is, as if to say that no one hurts his younger brother without dealing with him first.
The entire fight at the beginning on the surface seemed to be an almost father-and-son bondage; it was not until Eddie threw a real blow at Rodolfo (who staggers), until they realize that this was no ordinary boxing lesson.
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A View from the Bridge, Eddie the Head
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