Another example of Catherines increasingly rebellious nature is when she comes back from the pictures. Eddie questions her and she becomes angry and embarrassed (two powerful emotions combining) and so this time Eddie has to back off. Little moments like these help sustain the tension. The hidden nervousness of Catherine and Beatrice around Eddie also add to tension. Surprisingly Catherine also hides. Perhaps the best example of tension coming from the concealment of emotions is when Catherine and Rodolpho are dancing and Eddie has to sit in his rocker and put up with it. This has very significant and powerful symbolism which I have discussed in further detail later on.
By the end of Act One Eddies relationship with every person in the household has been strained, surprisingly also with Beatrice. His relationship with his wife is also right now very fragile and we know that an argument between this pair of characters could also happen at any time resulting in more tension. His problem with Beatrice also branch out from his problem with Catherine. Ultimately Beatrice is a loving woman.
She loves her husband and her relatives and is in a very delicate position where she cannot back her husband or her relatives. I feel that overall her role is to suffer. Like Alfieri she cannot prevent the tragedy that she sensed might have happened. However, unlike Alfieri she is able to interfere. The problem is that her character is not strong enough. In Act Two she tells Eddie that he cannot have what he wants, he cannot have Catherine. However, by then she is too late, and the occurrences thereafter cannot be changed. She represents reason and sanity. She is involved in three of the tense moments in Act One. Firstly her private conversation with Catherine, then one with Eddie and during the argument in between Catherine and Eddie.
Beatrice can see Eddies infatuation with Catherine and tries to stop it in her own more subtle ways. She wants Catherine to move away and get her job and she indirectly tries to stop his obsession with Catherine when saying, Whatre you gonna stand over her till shes forty? She combines subtle hints with Eddie with her conversation Catherine to try and prevent the tragedy. Her conversation with Catherine is another one of the tense moments in this first act.
She talks to Catherine about her behaviour around Eddie. Beatrice tells her to stop being so close to Eddie (e.g. being in the bathroom when Eddie is shaving in his pants). You can imagine how this conversation could be acted out on stage or even on film it would be very tense and there would be silence. Beatrice knows that this is a very delicate topic and she would be walking on a tightrope as would the emotions of the audience be. All these tense moments really do add up to sustain the tension which comes to a climax at the end of Act One.
Beatrices conversation with Eddie has different content to the one she had with Catherine but the type of conversation is very similar very sensitive and delicate. Moreover, it deals with sex which would not have been spoken about as freely as now in them times. She asks Eddie, When am I gonna be a wife again Eddie? She is clearly asking about sex and it is something they have not had for three months. Eddie tries to blame it on Marco and Rodolpho by saying he has not been feeling good due to them but then Beatrices riposte is that they had only been in the country for a few weeks. The tension is too great here for Eddie and so he leaves because he cannot face up to the truth. So why have sexual relations halted? Is it because of Beatrice herself or is it his desire for Catherine that is making him not in the mood to make love with Beatrice. Perhaps he is really not feeling to good.
The director depending on how he or she chooses to play the coming of Rodolpho and Marco can add another moment of tension. The director could choose to make there journey from the boat very tense and dramatic as people stare at them. I would probably not choose to play there arrival in this way as I would want to keep the focus on the Carbone household. Also, a community like this probably would see illegal immigrants all the time.
Eddies relationship with Rodolpho due is due to his relationship with his niece. Rodolpho has blond hair that is perhaps a sigh of his innocence. Perhaps Eddie would have liked him if he did not have such incestuous feelings for Catherine. It is clear however that Eddie immediately does not like Rodolpho. He sees Rodolpho as a weird who is young, boastful and a person who is contributing to the destruction of his relationship with Catherine. In contrast, Catherine immediately takes a fancy to Rodolpho and asks him to sing to her.
Eddie says that Rodolpho gives him the heebie jeebies and calls him a weird. Rodolpho is obviously a very talented person, he can sing, cook and make clothes. To Eddie this is not normal and rather feministic. During Eddies conversation with Alfieri, Rodolphos sexuality is then questioned. The issues of incest and homosexuality have now been touched two sensitive topics which cause tension and discomfort. When Eddie speaks to Mike and Louis about Rodolpho, he feels that their remarks which are intended as complements are more insults. He feels that Rodolpho is losing the honour of his family and honour is another important theme.
One of the most tense moments is when Catherine and Rodolpho dance in front of Eddie. Eddie is said to freeze. However he must hold his anger inside him as if he does not, relationships with the whole household will be permanenty damaged and he would end up the fool. The dancing has great importance. It symbolises how Catherine and Rodolphos relationship is now closer than that between Catherines and Eddies. It also symbolises Catherines independence. The dancing is an act of revolt. The song which they choose Paper Doll is also perhaps significant and would definitely have an effect on Eddie.
Ill tell you boys its tough to be alone, And its tough to love a doll thats not your own. Im gonna buy a paper doll that I can call my own, A doll that other fellows cannot steal Eddie is enraged and the stage directions are crucial here especially to the reader who has to visualise what is going on. He has bent the rolled paper (newspaper) and it suddenly tears in two The dance is part of a sequence of tenses moments. It precedes the boxing and the lifting of the chair.
Even by the end of Act One we can see Rodolpho has grown up. He is less boastful and refuses to dance in front of Eddie for the first time. He then agrees to participate in a boxing lesson. After the boxing lessons, Eddie is now shown by Miller to be a very childish person. The boxing lesson shows that Eddie is stronger than Rodolpho. However, little doe Eddie know that immediately after there would be another trial of strength which he would lose. Eddie is using this lesson as an outlet of his anger. He is getting rid of all the angry emotions he has been holding inside on Eddie. The first trial of strength between Rodolpho and Eddie is full of tension.
The tension here is shown through the reaction of others. After Beatrices initial alarm she sees it as friendly rivalry and lets the lesson go on. Catherine is also very fearful for Rodolphos safety and Marco also eventually rises when he sees that his brother has been hurt. Up to this point Marco has agreed with Eddie on all points. When Eddie told Rodolpho to come home earlier, Marco agreed. However, not Marco is showing that family is more important and the themes honour and family are once again present. Family loyalty is greater than his concern not to irritate his benefactor. Rodolpho denies that eddie hurt him (with a certain gleam and a smile) and moves to his own more subtle act of defiance dancing with Catherine again, he invites her to dance this time.
The last trial of strength is between Eddie and Marco. Marco challenges Eddie to lift the chair by the leg. Eddie is unable to but Marco succeeds. Seeing who wins this test of strength is also a great moment of strength for the audience. We know that there will be a great difference in what happens next depending on who wins the battle. Marco lifts the chair over his head, like a weapon and Eddie knows that he is losing his power in the family and his influence over everybody is rapidly diminishing. Marco lives his life to the strict code of the community. Generally he is a good person who always tries to do what is right.
For Marco, actions speak louder than words and this is clearly present in the lifting of the chair. In Marco, Miller has managed to create a killer whom we see as good and honourable. The lifting of the chair is without the climax of Act One. It is positioned at the end of the Act before the interval and sets up the second act brilliantly. In Shakespeare, the staging directions are few and directors can choose to putintevals at different places. However, this play by Miller has many staging directions many of which are incredibly important. The interval must come right at the end of the raising of the chair the climax of all emotions, not just tension.