A View From the Bridge by Arthur Miller. Story Analysis
A View from the Bridge Drama Paper
In every story there exists a main character in which the central narrative revolves around. Often, protagonists come into conflict with opposing forces or characters contrary to their own set of beliefs. They are usually written in a way so that readers can sympathize with the motives that drive them to action. Arthur Miller’s A View from the Bridge depicts the self-destructive decisions of the protagonist Eddie Carbone as it eventually results to his tragic demise. It all begins with his difficulty in accepting the fact that his niece, Catherine, is growing up to become a woman wholly capable of making her own choices outside of his control. When she begins a romance with one of the illegal immigrants that arrives from Italy, cousins to his wife Beatrice, Eddie becomes hysterical with his actions in an attempt to separate them. In a last desperate move to prevent them from marrying one another, he goes to report the sibling illegal immigrants, Marco and Rodolpho, to the Immigration Bureau. This only results in a concluding fight on Catherine and Rodolpho’s wedding day between the two men, in which Eddie Carbone doesn’t emerge from alive. Due to Eddie’s harsh actions and unwillingness for acceptance throughout the play, it increasingly becomes a challenge to be able to sympathize with his character. Eddie Carbone is a protagonist constantly trying to establish his dominance in the household, trying to take control of the lives around him. Another reason as to what makes him an unsympathetic character is his adamant refusal to let his niece live her own life as he seems intent on seeking to monopolize her. He’s rather impulsive when it comes to his decisions, intent only on gratifying his own desires while disregarding the feelings of those around him. Eddie Carbone is a protagonist that’s difficult to sympathize with as he, himself, makes no effort to sympathize with others.
Throughout the play, Eddie constantly tries to remind everyone in the household that his word is right and that respect should be dutifully paid to him. In the second half of the first act, Eddie becomes indignant about Rodolpho and Catherine spending time together out in the city. He addresses Catherine about the issue that Rodolpho should “ask your father’s permission before he run around with you like this” and later, brings up the topic again when everyone is gathered in the same room as he looks to Marco for some sort of validity by appealing to the traditions back in Italy,“ but in your town you wouldn’t just drag off some girl without permission.” Further into the play, when Marco and Rodolpho have moved to an upstairs room, Eddie goes on to explicitly say “I want my respect” despite the fact that they are no longer concerned with each other’s lives. He also complains about Beatrice’s behavior towards him, disregarding that he has only been unpleasant towards everyone ever since the beginning and that her dislike towards him stems from his irrational actions. It becomes increasingly difficult for readers to become sympathetic to Eddie’s plight when he refuses to listen to everyone else, as his reputation is the only thing that’s important to him. In the final confrontation scene while everyone else aside from Marco is trying to make amends so that the day doesn’t end in bloodshed, Eddie chooses to refuse the apologies and only seeks for his dignity to be restored by Marco despite originally committing multiple misdeeds against the brothers. He refuses to acknowledge that he was wrong due to his pride, even going as far to claim “tell them what a liar you are,” in an attempt to place the blame on someone other than himself. At this point, there is no compassion left to feel for Eddie because despite being reprehensible, he constantly makes efforts to shift the blame from him to others instead of accepting the guilt he created himself.
It is usually difficult for fathers to accept that their daughters are growing up and that eventually, they will leave the nest. In Eddie’s case, he becomes extremely possessive of Catherine to the point where it almost seems like she is his possession. It is remarked by both the lawyer he’s acquainted with, Alfieri, and Beatrice that his love for his niece is far too strong and that he will never “have” her in the way he wishes to. In the middle of act one, Carbone goes to seek legal advice from the lawyer Alfieri who after hearing Eddie’s complaints, mentions that “there’s too much love for the niece” and “it goes where it mustn’t” although Eddie seems to “never realizes it.” Eventually in anger, Carbone bursts out that Rodolpho “takes and puts his dirty filthy hands on her like a goddam thief” as if referring to Catherine as his possession. As soon as Alfieri makes the argument that Catherine is an adult and that she is choosing to marry Rodolpho, Eddie exclaims that “he’s stealing from me” because he can only see his niece as something he wants but cannot have. In the final scene, the idea that Eddie feels something for Catherine beyond that of filial love is further established by Beatrice when she accuses Eddie that “You want somethin’ else, Eddie, and you can never have her” because for the past couple of months, Eddie has been ignoring Beatrice and her growing suspicion that he feels something for Catherine ever since she matured has been solidified due to the threat that someone else is going to take her away from Eddie. His obsession with Catherine causes him to act erratically, hurting those around him because he doesn’t get to keep who he desires. Eddie doesn’t sympathize with the feelings of his niece and wife, barely making an effort to listen to their opinions, which causes everyone else to retaliate against him.
Eddie is the type of person who prefers to intimidate rather than solve things through words, making it another obstacle to understand him as a character. An instance in which he resorts to aggressive behavior is when he tries to terrorize Rodolpho under the pretense of teaching the boy how to box. He uses it as a way to establish his power over the younger boy, which is easily refuted as soon as Marco lifts a chair “raised like a weapon over Eddie’s head.” Another instance is in act two when Eddie pins Rodolpho’s arms and kisses him to prove that the other boy “ain’t right” when he doesn’t make a move to fight off Eddie. Carbone is always acting in detestable ways just so he can prove a point because he strongly believes that his opinions are always right. He’s usually the first one to provoke a challenge in order to demonstrate that the one misguided is not him. In the final scene of the play, Eddie is transfixed on meeting Marco’s challenge and would rather resort to violence than reconcile with the person he’s originally wronged. The result of the fight is evident when Eddie is stabbed by the knife he brought, figuratively signifying how the cause of his fall was brought about by his own selfish choices made throughout the play. Any level of sympathy that Eddie can garner is lost as soon as he decided to react aggressively and impulsively without thinking of the resulting consequences.
Protagonists are usually written with appeal but readers may find it a struggle to hold any sympathy for the leading character in Arthur Miller’s A View from the Bridge. Eddie Carbone’s refusal to listen and understand others around him including his aggressive outbursts are all uncharacteristic for a sympathetic protagonist. The strong attachment he has for Catherine serves as a catalyst for his cruel treatment towards Marco and Rodolpho throughout the play, ultimately resulting in his tragic death at the hands of Marco. Due to Eddie’s various problematic traits and actions, the amount of sympathy that he can elicit from the readers are minimal as the actions he takes from beginning to end are merely carried out because of his selfish desires. He is a character who makes little to no effort in listening to the opinions of those around him, as he stubbornly pursues what he wants to achieve. Starting from the moment Eddie Carbone chose to disregard his family as he became unsympathetic to their plight and only elected to gratify his feelings, it evidently became harder for readers to share any sympathy for a man consumed entirely by cruelty.
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