A View from the Bridge: the Opening Scene

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The opening scene of Act Two marks the dramatic turning point of the play. In this scene, Catherine confronts Rodolfo over Eddie's allegation that Rodolfo only wants to marry Catherine to be an American. However it is soon revealed that Rodolfo truly loves her. The two characters sleep together for the first time, a fact that Eddie finds out when he returns home drunk, which results in a devastating confrontation between the central characters.

The seriousness and the intense emotions displayed in this scene, plus Arthur Miller's use of dramatic devices, make this scene very dramatically effective. It is a turning point in the play because it is the first time Catherine and Rodolfo sleep together, symbolising Catherine's transformation from a "little girl" to a grown woman; and Catherine's ties with Eddie have finally cut as she chooses Rodolfo over Eddie. In this scene, Eddie also confronts his feelings towards Catherine as he kisses her in a fit of rage, passion and desire.

This scene opens up with Alfieri's narration. He tells the audience that Catherine and Rodolfo are "alone" in the apartment for the first time. The fact that they are alone suggests something is going to happen and sets the scene and create tension because the two characters are alone in a cramped flat without anyone to interfere and no other witnesses except the audience. The cramped apartment is dramatic device which is more obvious on stage – the dining room is the focus of the actions, the small, claustrophobic space increases tension between the characters. The character of Alfieri serves two functions. In the play, Alfieri is the narrator, who tells the audience the story of Eddie Carbone in flashbacks, and therefore constantly reminds the readers of the tragedy that is yet to come. However he also acts as an actual character in the play – the role of the wise lawyer, whom Eddie seeks advice from. A narrator is a typical dramatic device used often in plays, dating back to Greek tragedy, which is the style this play is written in.

Catherine asks Rodolfo is he is hungry, instead he replies "not for anything to eat". This suggests Rodolfo's desire for Catherine and further emphasis what might happen now they are alone together. This makes the audience wonder and curious, about Rodolfo and Catherine, and also about Eddie's reaction when he finds out.

Catherine starts to ask Rodolfo a series of questions about the options of the two of them living in Italy. At first Rodolfo thinks Catherine is joking as he is smiling, as he does not know the real question Catherine is asking him. However, we as the audience understand she is testing him to see if he only wants to marry her to be an American. This is an example of dramatic irony which Miller uses to create tension and suspense as the audience wonder how Rodolfo is going to react and whether he will figure out Catherine's true intention. We are also kept in suspense as we wait to see if Rodolfo really loves Catherine.

As Rodolfo realises Catherine's seriousness, stage directions describes that his smile "vanishes" and he is "astonished" at Catherine's request and he walks to her "slowly". From here, it is clear that Rodolfo recognizes something is wrong and the tension is heightened as his previous joking mood has gone and is moving onto a more unpleasant topic. Rodolfo tries to persuade Catherine by commenting Italy as having "no money", "no business " and "nothing" and though Italy is beautiful, "you can't cook the view". This quote shows Rodolfo's maturity and his understanding of reality and that he is not blinded by a mere pretty surface.

As Catherine continues to pursue the idea of living in Italy, Rodolfo becomes increasingly frustrated:

"There's nothing! Nothing, nothing, nothing."

We see the characters are more emotionally charged as the argument continues; Rodolfo becomes more angry and irritable as the tension builds up, and the audience tense up as the calmer...
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