Just as in science, a catalyst speeds up the rate of the chemical reaction; in literature, a catalyst is a person, idea or event that initiates and develops the conflict of the story. In "A View from the Bridge" and "The Glass Menagerie", the catalysts used are introduced at different points in the plays and play different roles.
In " A View from the Bridge", Rodolpho, the catalyst, is introduced in the exposition, and plays a major role in the play. He initiates the conflict by being attracted to Catherine, and by the fact that Catherine is attracted to him as well. The fact that he is introduced in the exposition, allows for the author to develop his character, and thus allows for the audience to sympathise with him instead of Eddie. This development gives the audience a high quality catalyst as it can relate to Rodplpho. Rodolpho creates a heavy tension in the family, due to his relationship with Catherine. This tension relates to the play's theme of obsession as it is caused by Eddie's obsession with Catherine. How Rodolpho relates to the main theme and develops the tension make him a quality catalyst.
Jim, the catalyst in "The Glass Menagerie", is introduced in the complications of the play, and though he initiates the conflict, he does not develop it. This may be due to the fact that he was introduced too late into the play, and because his character was not developed. This underdevelopment of his character produces a lower quality catalyst as the audience cannot relate to Jim, and also because he participates little in the play. The tension created by Jim relates to the theme of betrayal, when he tells Laura that he is engaged after he led her on and kissed her. Jim's inefficiency to develop the plot results in a less dramatic climax in "The Glass Menagerie".
Overall, Rodolpho's deeper character, and his efficiency as a catalyst, makes "A View from the Bridge" an interesting and dramatic play, whereas Jim's late timing and underdeveloped character...
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