How does Arthur Miller create tension and suspense, building to a climax at the end of Act I?
In Act I, trouble was already starting to brew as soon as the illegal immigrants Marco and Rodolfo got into the country. Eddie’s dislike of Rodolfo triggered several other problems which finally led to Marco threatening Eddie at the end of the play. Arthur Miller uses several techniques such as dramatic dialogue, foreshadowing and paralanguage to gradually increase the suspense and tension until finally leading to the shocking and threatening image of Marco holding the chair aloft as the curtain closes at the end of Act I. This leaves the audience wondering in anticipation and fearing for what Eddie or Marco might do and what other misfortune might this lead up to in Act II.
Tension is already immediately created when we find out about the relationship between Eddie and Catherine. We know that Catherine is Eddie’s niece but his love for her is already very inappropriate and unacceptable, already very close to being in love with her. We know this because he comments on Catherine dress by saying “I think it’s too short” and that she is “walkin’ wavy”, which shows that he does not seem to like other men being attracted to her. This is also shown when he asks “What job? She’s gonna finish school.” When he finds out that Catherine is going to work. His anxiety shows that he desperately wants to keep Catherine close to him and does not want Catherine to get the opportunity to meet other men.
Later on we find out the relationship between Eddie and Beatrice is also pretty strained, probably because of Eddie’s unhealthy relationship with Catherine. After Eddie’s talk with Catherine, paralanguage is used when Beatrice “has been avoiding his gaze”, which shows that she is mad at him. The immediate response of “Who’s mad?” after Eddie asking her whether she is or not just confirms the fact that she is mad. The remark of “You’re the one that is mad” made by Beatrice tells us...
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