A View From the Bridge

Explore how the theme of love is portrayed in “A view from the bridge”.

October 23, 2020 by Essay Writer

Love—of one kind or another—is the main motivator of Miller’s characters in this play, and drives the major events of its plot. Catherine’s love for Rodolfo and Eddie’s intense love for Catherine lead to the central problems of the play. But even before this, it is Marco’s love for his family that motivates him to come to America, and it is Beatrice’s love for her extended family that causes her to have Marco and Rodolfo stay in her home.

Beyond this, though, A View from the Bridge especially explores the way in which people are driven by desires that don’t fit the mold of normal or traditional forms of familial and romantic love. For one thing, Eddie’s love for Catherine is extreme and hard to define exactly. He is conspicuously overprotective, and yet he is supposed to be a father figure for her.

Unfortunately, as Beatrice subtly hints several times, his love for Catherine often crosses this line and becomes a kind of incestuous desire for his niece, whom he has raised like a daughter. This repressed taboo desire—which Eddie vehemently denies—erupts to the surface when Eddie grabs Catherine and kisses her in front of Rodolfo.

Eddie may also have other repressed desires. Directly after kissing Catherine, he kisses Rodolfo, as well. He claims that this is to prove that Rodolfo is homosexual (an accusation he constantly implies but never says outright), but as he is the one to restrain Rodolfo and forcefully kiss him, his motivations are dubious.

Throughout the play, Eddie is disproportionately obsessed with proving that Rodolfo “ain’t right”, and this fixation on Rodolfo’s sexuality (combined with the fact that he does not have sex with his wife Beatrice) may suggest that there are other motivations behind Eddie’s kissing him.

Eddie is a mess of contradictory, half-repressed desires that are difficult to pin down or define, perhaps even for him. Through this tragically tormented and conflicted character, Miller shows that people are often not aware of their own desires, and reveals the power that these desires can exert over people. Eddie’s suffocating love for Catherine becomes a desire to possess her. He even claims that Rodolfo is ‘stealing’ from him, as if she were an object he owned.

His obsession with Catherine drives him apart from his family and leads him to betray Beatrice’s cousins, thereby effectively ostracizing himself from his friends and neighbors. Through the tragic descent of Eddie, A View from the Bridge can be seen not only as the drama of a family, or of an immigrant community, but also as the internal drama of Eddie’s psyche, as he is tormented and brought down by desires he himself doesn’t even fully understand.

In contrast with his obsession for Catherine, Eddie’s love for Beatrice has hit the rocks. Ironically, Catherine is his ‘daughter’ while Beatrice is his wife. At the beginning of the play there seems to be no evidence of tension in the marriage between Beatrice and Eddie. Beatrice is full of praise for her husband whom she compares to “an angel”. At the same time Eddie expresses his appreciation for his wife whom she believes has got “too big a heart”. However, the audience can see from the beginning that Eddie is nervous about Catherine getting her independence. This began much earlier and Beatrice has notice the change in her husband’s affection for her. In fact, there has been no physical relationship between them for “three months”. It appears as if the coming of the cousins and Catherine’s obvious falling in love with Rodolfo is what brings about the total break-down of the husband and wife relationship. This is more so because the wife keeps accusing the husband but the husband keeps denying. Arthur Miller has shown how inability to reject an individual’s desires can lead to a breakup of true love.

Unlike the husband wife love of Beatrice and Eddie which breaks down, Marco’s love for his wife and children undergoes many trials but doesn’t break down. Marco is a very strong man both physically and mentally. However, the only moment we see him almost breaking down emotionally is when the issue of love for family comes to the surface. The moment he arrives in the United States from Italy, the first thing he wants to do is to send his wife and children money, “he is near tears”. His love is constant and he has a lot of faith in his wife “No-no … the wemen wait, Eddie”. The same emotion can be seen when he is talking about Eddie’s humiliation of Rodolfo “he degraded my brother. My blood. He robbed my children, he mocks my work”. Marco remains true to the people he loves.

Against the family love of Marco is the romantic love between Rodolfo and Catherine. This love is also shown to with stand many trials. The biggest obstacle to this love is Eddie. At the beginning, Eddie has moral authority over Catherine _after all he is the ‘father’ that is why Catherine is ready to listen to him complaining about Rodolfo. Because she is like a daughter to him, she believes what he says and does not like to see him hurt. However, Eddie makes one nasty accusation after another against Rodolfo. He says “the boy wants his passport”, the boy is a homosexual and so on and so forth. In spite of all this, Catherine’s love for Rodolfo grows, just as her contempt for Eddie increases until, by the end of the play she refers to him as “a rat! He belongs to the sewer!”

Arthur miller has shown love to be a great motivation of the characters in his play. This can be motivation for good, as in the case for Rodolfo and Marco and it can also be motivation for purely selfish interest as is in the case of Eddie. In the end, love destroys itself when it is corrupted by inappropriate physical desire. But love triumphs when it is well meant.

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A Critique of a View from the Bridge, a Play by Arthur Miller

October 23, 2020 by Essay Writer

Eddie Carbone who is the main protagonist of Arthur Miller’s play A View From The Bridge’ has a very stereotypical view of how a ‘real man’ should be. As can be evidenced with is attitude towards Rodolpho, Eddie is intolerant and even hostile towards those who do not follow the traditional image of a man. Threats to his honour or the image of his masculinity, in the form of hostility and aggression, is what causes the conflicts that appear throughout the play. The three themes entwine together and have importance towards the unfolding events of the play.

The play is set in the mid 1950’s and therefore takes place in a patriarchal society where gender inequality was seen to be a norm amongst local communities. Eddie believes that a man should provide for his family, much like a breadwinner, and be the head of the household. When Eddie first meets Marco, he approves of his role as a father which can be interpreted by the stage directions as Eddie mainly directs his speech towards Marco during the immigrants first conversation with the Carbone family. Also, when Eddie describes Marco by saying ‘They leave him alone, he would load the whole ship by himself’ it highlights Eddie’s views of masculinity which is a man who is responsible, who has a sense of duty but is also hard-working. Eddie obviously values these traits, however, the most important aspect of a man to him is the physical strength of an individual. When Marco is described to be a ‘regular bull’, Eddie is not only complementing his dedication, but also his stability.

As seen by Eddie’s likeness towards Marco’s strength, he believes that a man needs to be able to defend themselves if needs be. Additionally, loyalty is one of the qualities of a ‘real man’ to Eddie. This can be evidenced by the plays cultural background as the Red Hook community consisted of tightly- knit Italian immigrants. The quotation ‘blood is thicker than water’ illustrates how important honesty and faithfulness is to the Carbone family. Additionally, the community have its own ‘unwritten law’ which suggests that they have a specific honour code that is crucial to be respected. It highlights the fact that one does not meddle in another’s business in the Red Hook community, they turn a blind eye to complicated situations as shown in the quote ‘you don’t see nothing, you don’t know nothing’.

However, Rodolpho doesn’t confirm to Eddie’s image of an ideal man, and therefore he becomes incredibly angry when he discovers that Catherine has formed a relationship with the immigrant. The reason that he puts forth is that Rodolpho is only declaring his love for Catherine as a way of becoming an American Citizen, saying this is the ‘oldest trick in the book’. However, the reader can sense that Eddie dislikes Rodolpho’s feminine qualities as evidenced when he insults his hair by saying ‘he’s practically blond’ and ‘I just hope it’s real hair’. Additionally, Rodolpho’s has fantastic cooking, sewing and singing skills, however these qualities are more suited to a women by Eddie’s standards. Rodolpho’s talents generate spiteful names from Eddie and the other longshoremen such as ‘paper doll’ and ‘canary’ that are used to impair his courage and masculinity. Eddie insults the immigrant as Rodolpho is threatening Eddie’s masculinity by enriching on his ‘territory’, Catherine. Eddie want’s to tests Rodolpho’s “manliness” and prove his own superiority by teaching Rodolpho to box. There is definitely hostility on Eddie’s part in this scene, and it escalates to aggression when he makes Rodolpho “mildly stagger” with a blow. Eddie goes even further by suggesting that Rodolpho is homosexual. The conflict climaxes as ‘Eddie pins his arms, laughing, and suddenly kisses him’. By kissing Rodolpho on the lips, Eddie puts Rodolpho in a position where he is not a man. The purpose of this would be to humiliate and insult Rodolpho, and also to show Catherine that Rodolpho is not a ‘real man’. Some critics argue that the scene illustrates Eddie’s homosexual feelings, however, Arthur Miller never reveals Rodolpho or Eddie’s sexual preferences.

Eddie is very protective of his niece, Catherine, and when he says ‘I don’t like the looks they’re giving you in the candy store’ it highlights the fact that Eddie is uncomfortable of the idea of Catherine being attractive to other men. He disapproves of her new femininity as proven when he asks her to remove ‘them new heels’. The high heels can be interpreted as a symbol of womanhood which Catherine has just started growing into. We feel she enjoys the male attention they bring her, when she argues with Eddie about her new style “but those guys look at all the girls, you know that.” This brings out hostility in Eddie “You ain’t “all the girls”. Additionally, we see how women were seen to be of less importance that men in the 1950’s society when Eddie comes out with a passive aggressive mark at dinner ‘Do me a favour will ya’. The hidden message here is not only an order for her to remove her heels, but Eddie is also reminding Catherine that she must please and obey him as he is head of the household and demands obedience and respect.

During the ending of the play, Eddie goes against the masculine quality of honour by alerting the immigration bureau of the location of illegal immigrants, his own relatives. In his own eyes, this should make him less of a man. However, the incident isn’t a shock to the audience as they tale of Vinny Bolzano, that’s told by Beatrice, foreshadows Eddie’s acts of betrayal. Marco denounces Eddie for his crime against the unwritten law, disgracing him in front of the neighbours by saying “That one! I accuse that one!”, “ He killed my children!” This

accusation disgraces Eddie. It could cause him to become an outcast, ostracized from the community as his actions break the Red Hook’s code of honour. Eddie’s death by the hands of Marco was a result of huge aggression that was caused by built up hostilities, which were in turn provoked by the importance of honour, and other “manly” traits, to the characters of the novel.

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A juxtapositioning of the opening of a street known as desire and a view from a bridge

October 23, 2020 by Essay Writer

The opening of a play is naturally one of its most important parts, serving as an introduction to its setting, characters and themes; the best openings also encapsulate both the intentions and style of the playwright. In A Streetcar Named Desire, Tennessee Williams describes the set in extreme details, using plastic theatre to create a vivid setting, while Arthur Miller displays a closer focus on characters, themes and dialogue in A View From the Bridge. Both of these approaches present the realism necessary for any domestic tragedy to have impact.

A Streetcar Named Desire opens with a lengthy description of the set. Williams is evidently describing something more conceptual than actually feasible, as he includes detail of “the L & N tracks and the river”, features of the landscape that would be difficult to capture on a stage, yet more abstractly juxtapose nature with industry, each out of place in this environment, and bear connotations of travel and movement. Both these ideas link to Blanche’s arrival at the Elysian Fields, out of place and finding that life has moved on without her, leaving her a relic of a previous age. Williams furthermore uses techniques of plastic theatre, building up a soundscape of the “perpetual blue piano” native to New Orleans, as well as the shouts of a tamale vendor and multiple simultaneous conversations, creating an image of a busy and vibrant community through sound alone.

By contrast, Miller gives a brief and more practical set design in A View From the Bridge, with its opening clearly more focused on the introduction of themes and characters. Alfieri’s initial soliloquy essentially gives away the “bloody course” of the play, setting out the key ideas of justice, and how the Italian and Sicilian form of social justice often clashes with the law. Alfieri’s commentary throughout the play provides an outsider’s outlook on the events with the benefit of hindsight, and the opening speech of foreshadowing is no different. By including this soliloquy, Miller alters the audience’s perception of the events that follow and their opinions of the characters themselves through Alfieri’s forgiving and understanding viewpoint.

The characters themselves are described initially, not necessarily in a greater level of detail than the set, but at a greater depth: Miller provides not only details of appearance, but also approximate age and mannerisms, with Alfieri described as “good-humoured and thoughtful”. While Miller’s characters are no more or less realistic than Williams’, this immediate focus on character and personality demonstrates how critical they are in A View From the Bridge. The importance of Eddie in particular is highlighted both figuratively and literally, being spotlighted by Alfieri but also being introduced first; the opening of the play follows Eddie through his relationships, first with his fellow workers and then with his wife and niece. It is in the latter interaction where his protectiveness of Catherine first becomes apparent, against introducing a major recurrent motif in the play – Eddie’s inappropriate feelings towards Catherine. While his doubts over her skirt being “too short” could easily be interpreted as natural paternal concern (as he acts as her guardian), Alfieri’s soliloquy lends an ominous air of foreboding to the scene.

Although Williams does not focus on character as immediately in A Streetcar Named Desire, he still uses the opening to present the characters to a similar degree of depth. Stella and Stanley are introduced as indistinguishable from the people around them; they are as likely to be main characters as Eunice and Mitch. Despite this, enough information is provided to intimate the nature of their relationship. Stanley is clearly the patriarchal head of the household and main provider, bringing the “meat” home to Stella, and his physicality is evident from the action of “heaving” the package of meat at her. It is less clear who the dominant character is, if any; while Stella is physically above Stanley on the upper floor, suggesting dominance, and tells him, “don’t holler at me” – the imperative command indicative of power – she does not hesitate to follow behind him to the bowling alley, a physical display of deference where she could have caught up to him or not followed at all. The degree to which Stella and Stanley appear unremarkable is in strong juxtaposition to Blanche’s introduction, dressed “as if she were arriving at a summer tea or garden party”, all in white and initially totally silent. From her first appearance she is a character incongruous with her surroundings, seeming lost and confused. She is also, like Eddie, the clear protagonist: the extent to which she stands out simply by her manner and appearance sets her apart from the characters introduced thus far, drawing the attention of the audience.

The openings of A Streetcar Named Desire and A View From the Bridge are indeed presented very differently, yet ultimately have the same function. Williams chooses to create a vivid sensory image of his setting, with a semi-conceptual description of the set and opening dialogue that serves to bring about a specific atmosphere, while Miller immediately introduces his themes and characters, predominantly focusing on Eddie. Despite these contrasting styles, both openings serve as introductions to the complex personalities of each play’s main characters, and begin to guide the audience through the ideas and concepts explored through the following events, as well as crucially creating the realism needed for the audience to emotionally connect to the two tragedies.

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Analysis of the Movie Version of, A View from The Bridge By Arthur Miller

October 23, 2020 by Essay Writer

A View from the Bridge by Arthur Miller was an enjoyable read. It flowed well and was thoroughly intriguing. I was really engrossed in the characters and situation that Miller developed. I personally enjoy works focusing on an individual’s thought processes and course of action when dealing with a difficult situation. Eddie Carbone is a well-developed and believable character. I appreciate that he wasn’t the average “good” or “bad” guy. He was a good person. However, his desires, that even he himself wasn’t conscious about, caused him to make some bad choices. And the realism of it all is the main thing I like about this play.

Since it is a play, it is already made for stage production, which makes the transition to film easier than other works of literature since each characters’ lines and actions are blatantly written out. I enjoyed the film adaptation as much as I enjoyed its literary counterpart. It managed to bring my visualizations I had while reading to life.

The film adaptation was great and I did get to re-experience the literature as a critically good film. I give credit to the actors for being able to portray the characters realistically and bringing their relationships and emotions to life. I also give credit to the filmmakers for filming in Red Hook Brooklyn, the actual place where the play is set. The other scenes’ settings in the film also successfully portray the world in A View from the Bridge. All these elements resulted in a great adaptation.

Throughout the play, it is implied that Eddie has hidden desires for his niece, Catherine. I think this implication is successfully portrayed in the film adaptation, notably in scenes where they have close interactions. The scene that stands in significance regarding this is the scene where Catherine lights Eddie’s cigar. I think that scene conveys the message that Eddie has feelings for Catherine rather obviously. There were many other scenes in the film adaptation that I believed represented the scenes in the play successfully.

My only complaint with the film adaptation lies in the ending. I am somewhat disappointed that the ending didn’t follow Miller’s play. However, I liked the ending to both versions, the literature and its film counterpart. In the play, Eddie dies during a fight with Marco. While Eddie tried to stab Marco, Marco managed to turn it around and Eddie ends up dying instead. I like the fact that this scene took a literal and metaphorical sense: Eddie was trying to kill Marco, but ends up dying instead and Eddie’s flaw results in his downfall. In the film adaptation, Eddie commits suicide by plunging himself with a hook. Although I dislike this change from the play, I still enjoyed this ending because it seems to show Eddie’s sudden shock and realization at what he has done and his belief that there’s no turning back, thus, suicide being the answer. Although different, both endings display how the protagonist’s tragic flaw leads to his death. In any case, either ending is a believable and possible outcome that still relates and ties to the rest of story.

The film as a whole is a worthy adaptation of the work of literature that I consider a success. It managed to bring the characters, settings, and situation to life while still getting the themes and underlying messages across to the viewers as the play did to the readers.

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A Comparison of the Openings of A Streetcar Named Desire and A View from the Bridge

June 7, 2019 by Essay Writer

The opening of a play is naturally one of its most important parts, serving as an introduction to its setting, characters and themes; the best openings also encapsulate both the intentions and style of the playwright. In A Streetcar Named Desire, Tennessee Williams describes the set in extreme details, using plastic theatre to create a vivid setting, while Arthur Miller displays a closer focus on characters, themes and dialogue in A View From the Bridge. Both of these approaches present the realism necessary for any domestic tragedy to have impact.

A Streetcar Named Desire opens with a lengthy description of the set. Williams is evidently describing something more conceptual than actually feasible, as he includes detail of “the L & N tracks and the river”, features of the landscape that would be difficult to capture on a stage, yet more abstractly juxtapose nature with industry, each out of place in this environment, and bear connotations of travel and movement. Both these ideas link to Blanche’s arrival at the Elysian Fields, out of place and finding that life has moved on without her, leaving her a relic of a previous age. Williams furthermore uses techniques of plastic theatre, building up a soundscape of the “perpetual blue piano” native to New Orleans, as well as the shouts of a tamale vendor and multiple simultaneous conversations, creating an image of a busy and vibrant community through sound alone.

By contrast, Miller gives a brief and more practical set design in A View From the Bridge, with its opening clearly more focused on the introduction of themes and characters. Alfieri’s initial soliloquy essentially gives away the “bloody course” of the play, setting out the key ideas of justice, and how the Italian and Sicilian form of social justice often clashes with the law. Alfieri’s commentary throughout the play provides an outsider’s outlook on the events with the benefit of hindsight, and the opening speech of foreshadowing is no different. By including this soliloquy, Miller alters the audience’s perception of the events that follow and their opinions of the characters themselves through Alfieri’s forgiving and understanding viewpoint.

The characters themselves are described initially, not necessarily in a greater level of detail than the set, but at a greater depth: Miller provides not only details of appearance, but also approximate age and mannerisms, with Alfieri described as “good-humoured and thoughtful”. While Miller’s characters are no more or less realistic than Williams’, this immediate focus on character and personality demonstrates how critical they are in A View From the Bridge. The importance of Eddie in particular is highlighted both figuratively and literally, being spotlighted by Alfieri but also being introduced first; the opening of the play follows Eddie through his relationships, first with his fellow workers and then with his wife and niece. It is in the latter interaction where his protectiveness of Catherine first becomes apparent, against introducing a major recurrent motif in the play – Eddie’s inappropriate feelings towards Catherine. While his doubts over her skirt being “too short” could easily be interpreted as natural paternal concern (as he acts as her guardian), Alfieri’s soliloquy lends an ominous air of foreboding to the scene.

Although Williams does not focus on character as immediately in A Streetcar Named Desire, he still uses the opening to present the characters to a similar degree of depth. Stella and Stanley are introduced as indistinguishable from the people around them; they are as likely to be main characters as Eunice and Mitch. Despite this, enough information is provided to intimate the nature of their relationship. Stanley is clearly the patriarchal head of the household and main provider, bringing the “meat” home to Stella, and his physicality is evident from the action of “heaving” the package of meat at her. It is less clear who the dominant character is, if any; while Stella is physically above Stanley on the upper floor, suggesting dominance, and tells him, “don’t holler at me” – the imperative command indicative of power – she does not hesitate to follow behind him to the bowling alley, a physical display of deference where she could have caught up to him or not followed at all. The degree to which Stella and Stanley appear unremarkable is in strong juxtaposition to Blanche’s introduction, dressed “as if she were arriving at a summer tea or garden party”, all in white and initially totally silent. From her first appearance she is a character incongruous with her surroundings, seeming lost and confused. She is also, like Eddie, the clear protagonist: the extent to which she stands out simply by her manner and appearance sets her apart from the characters introduced thus far, drawing the attention of the audience.

The openings of A Streetcar Named Desire and A View From the Bridge are indeed presented very differently, yet ultimately have the same function. Williams chooses to create a vivid sensory image of his setting, with a semi-conceptual description of the set and opening dialogue that serves to bring about a specific atmosphere, while Miller immediately introduces his themes and characters, predominantly focusing on Eddie. Despite these contrasting styles, both openings serve as introductions to the complex personalities of each play’s main characters, and begin to guide the audience through the ideas and concepts explored through the following events, as well as crucially creating the realism needed for the audience to emotionally connect to the two tragedies.

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The Balance of Power in A View from the Bridge and The Lion and the Jewel

May 17, 2019 by Essay Writer

Many plays use the balance of power as a theme to drive the plot forward and to define their characters. In A View from the Bridge by Arthur Miller, the patriarchal figure of Eddie becomes a tragic hero through his loss of power and reaction to this. The character of Baroka in Wole Soyinka’s The Lion and the Jewel displays a similar level of power at first, yet humorously feigns weakness in what is ultimately a show of strength. For both characters, the extent of their control is demonstrated by younger, female characters: for Eddie this is his niece, Catherine, and for Baroka it is Sidi, village belle and ultimately his wife. These characters and their interactions are defined by power, and its changing balance is key to both plays.

As the head of the household in A View from the Bridge, Eddie possesses a character that is defined by the power he holds. This is initially emphasised by Miller by the fact he is the only man in the family; the women, Catherine and Beatrice, are very submissive, even if only to his face. Eddie is essentially waited on by the two women, with Catherine lighting his matches and offering to “get [him] a beer”. Despite him not overtly demanding anything of them, his dominance is very clear, particularly when he forbids Catherine from getting a job that would allow her more independence from him, with her “almost in tears because he disapproves”. Eddie’s necessary downfall, as a tragic character, therefore centres entirely around his loss of power and the way this affects him. When Marco and Rodolpho, the Italian submarines, arrive in the household, Eddie is no longer the only male figure. This alone is enough to challenge his authority, and the perceived threat causes him to increasingly assert his dominance, ordering Catherine to change her attire with the simple command, “Do me a favour, will you?” However, the more he does this, the more power he loses. By becoming overly disrespectful towards Rodolpho, he incites Marco to display his own power by threateningly raising a chair above Eddie’s head “like a weapon”, and his exaggerated control over Catherine provokes her into rebelling against him and ultimately pushes her away. Although no weakness is necessarily exposed at this point in the play, a definite lack of power is demonstrated through the shows of dominance of the other characters. This culminates in the ultimate show of control of the play: Eddie reporting the two submarines, who are powerless against the law. By resorting to this Eddie goes against the values of his entire community, exposing his real weakness to be a dependence on power and a need for control.

The character of Baroka in The Lion and the Jewel is comparable to Eddie’s in that both men have patriarchal roles. This is exaggerated in Baroka as he is the village chief and possesses many wives. Soyinka demonstrates the wives’ submissiveness (and thus Baroka’s dominance) through the favourite wife, who performs tasks deemed degrading by Western culture, such as “plucking the hairs from his armpit”. In contrast to Eddie, Baroka clearly asserts his control, ordering around villagers and wives as he pleases. However, the greatest difference between the two is Baroka’s willingness to expose his own weakness, even if he does so falsely; he is unafraid to temporarily weaken his position as he is confident his power will be restored. The act of intentionally emasculating himself has the exact opposite effect of Eddie reporting the submarines: while Eddie shows weakness through desperately attempting to regain power, Baroka regains power having pretended to expose weakness. His lack of fear of weakness shows his strength and cunning and cements his role as the powerful leader of the village.

Returning to A View from the Bridge, we see that Catherine develops in the opposite way to Eddie as she discovers what power she has. Although she displays a lack of power initially through acts of deference such as “lower[ing] her eyes”, the more Eddie attempts to assert his dominance, the more power she gains as a character. She recognises with the arrival of Rodolpho that Eddie’s control is mostly superficial, as he cannot prevent her from “going with him”, and draws attention to this by dancing with Rodolpho in front of Eddie, “flushed with revolt”. This act of defiance does nothing to change the actual balance of power, but openly demonstrates how it has shifted, empowering Catherine and humiliating the helpless Eddie. Over the course of the play Catherine gains little power, but learns what power she has and how to lose it.

Catherine’s parallel in The Lion and the Jewel is Sidi, who serves to highlight Baroka’s strength and power. Her character develops in reverse to Catherine, beginning by quickly learning the power her beauty gives: she refuses to submit to Lakunle or Baroka, despite their dominant status as men, asking “why did Baroka not request [her] hand before the stranger brought his book of images?” Even though Lakunle is a ridiculed figure, he still has the benefit of his gender, and Sidi humiliates him by repeatedly rejecting him in demonstration of her power. However, much like Eddie, her love of power is exposed as her weakness. She visits Baroka for no reason other than to “mock” his impotence and thus to prove herself stronger and more powerful than him; yet Baroka predicts this and uses her arrogance and vanity to ultimately dominate her, causing her to finally submit to him and become his wife. Not only does this demonstrate Baroka’s power, it also allows Sidi’s character to be defined by her love of power and how, like Eddie, this ironically causes her downfall.

These two plays are ultimately centered around a shifting balance of power. In A View from the Bridge, Miller uses a threat to Eddie’s power to spark his inevitable tragic downfall, exposing his need for control; Miller therefore forcibly defines his character by alternating demonstrations of power and exposure of weakness. Yet with the main focus on Eddie’s control, it is therefore necessary for all other characters to demonstrate power so as to expose his loss of control in ever regard. The Lion and the Jewel is also centrally focused on power and this is mainly shown through Baroka and Sidi. The balance of power shifts very little during the course of the play; rather, Baroka is defined by his dominance, and Sidi is defined by her arrogance and unwillingness to be dominanted. Consequently, the characters in these plays are defined by their demonstrations of power and exposure of weaknesses, as a result of power being a main theme of the plays themselves.

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Clarity, Perspective, and Tragedy in A View from the Bridge

May 6, 2019 by Essay Writer

Arthur Miller wrote A View from the Bridge, a work set in the late 1940s, as he became interested in the Italian immigration at the Brooklyn docks. Fascinated by the life of Pete Panto, a longshoreman who challenged the work of the Mafia, Miller wrote the play in the form of a Greek tragedy, of which Alfieri is the chorus. Annoyed by critics not capturing “the real and inner theme of the play,” Alfieri acts as an impartial, omniscient figure who helps us to fully understand the tragic demise of Eddie at the hands of the corrupt Italian-American society, “a bridge between the old and new worlds” (Stephen Marino).

Miller positions Alfieri as the chorus in this play, which adheres to Aristotle’s classic tragic structure. Under Aristotle’s scheme, that there should be a protagonist who suffers from a “tragic flaw” and hence falls from his earlier high status, a fall which “should come about as the result, not of vice, but of some great error or frailty in the character”; in Miller’s case, Eddie falls due to his obsession with Catherine and with his own dignity. In terms of the chorus, Aristotle argues that “it should be an integral part of the whole,” contributing to the actual play, not simply providing “mere interludes.” And so Alfieri’s role here is crucial, for without him, Miller would not have succeeded in his aim of writing a traditional tragedy, and the play would, according to Aristotle, collapse; the internal occurrences and thoughts would be unknown to the audience. For example, Alfieri knew and told the audience that the narrative would “run its bloody course,” yet without him we would not know the end until we read it, undermining Miller’s desire: “the point is not what happens, but how it’s going to happen” (1987 interview). These internal occurrences and thoughts are crucial for understanding Eddie and granting him the pathos deserved by a tragic character. When Alfieri first meets Eddie, he says that his “eyes were like tunnels,” which suggests that the protagonist is tunnel-visioned. While one could believe that this is implicitly a negative connotation and infer an impending doom for Eddie’s character, it could more probably imply that Eddie isn’t thinking rationally, and is uncontrollably blinded by his unconscious desire for Catherine, and societal-driven desire for dignity: “Eddie may believe Rodolpho is gay but he’s compelled to, he has to, so he can distance his own issues” (1987 interview). Therefore, Miller enables Alfieri to act as the bridge between the world of the play and the audience, so that we can properly understand Eddie—“Eddie is more than a client – for Alfieri he represents something almost larger than life itself” (Stephen Marino).

Miller, however, wanted a modern take on the Greek tragedy, and wanted to realistically represent what was happening in Brooklyn. While traditionally the chorus would be suspended or on the side of the stage, Alfieri appears in both the interludes and encounters with other characters. In Act One, Alfieri begins in a usual interlude —“It was at this time that he first came to me”— but thereafter physically meets with Eddie to talk about his situation—“Eddie, I’m a lawyer”; the play almost becomes metafiction, with Alfieri’s omniscient apostrophes about the characters figuring prominently within the narrative. This is similar to tactics seen in The French Lieutenant’s Woman by John Fowles, as Fowles talks to his characters in one chapter—“What the devil am I going to do with you?”—but in the next inserts himself into the narrative—“the prophet-bearded man began.” Hence, Miller achieves exactly what Aristotle described: “the Chorus too should be regarded as one of the actors.” Alfieri offers a crucial role in communicating with the other characters and listening to their thoughts and motives, and then in the interludes relays this information to the audience members so that they can listen, too.

Alfieri, in his monologues, deals with all issues concerning Eddie, either placing him as the instigator of his own tragic fall or a victim of society’s customs. Whenever Alfieri enters to provide introduction of a scene, the events are related through Eddie, a tactic which, certainly on an immediate reading of Eddie’s character, would lead to the conclusion that he is incestuous, homophobic, sexist, and blinded by a futile obsession. Alfieri says, “I saw it was only a passion that had moved into his body, like a stranger” and then just after Catherine and Rodolpho have perhaps had sex, Eddie “reaches out suddenly, draws [Catherine] to him, and as she strives to free herself he kisses her on the mouth.” Even Alfieri points out, “she can’t marry you, can she?” Equally, Eddie talks to Beatrice about Rodolpho, saying that “they’re callin’ him…Paper Doll…he’s a weird.” Then, Alfieri tells Eddie that “we all love somebody…but sometimes…there’s too much,” a statement which points towards Eddie’s role as a cruel protagonist. These elements of the text also, indeed, relate to established psychological theory. During research of “psychical impotence,” Sigmund Freud coined the phrase “Madonna-Whore,” which describes how men see women as either respected partners or degraded prostitutes. Hence, Eddie does “love…too much” and creates an unrealistic image of Catherine for her to live up to. And so, while Alfieri’s opening monologue juxtaposes themes of murder, betrayal, and redundant laws —“there were many here who were justly shot by unjust men” — with our introduction to Eddie —“This one’s name was Eddie Carbone”— Alfieri perhaps does not place him as a catalyst for the events unfolding, but as a victim.

While the audience can see Alfieri as omniscient, when he says that he “was so powerless to stop it…and so I — waited here,” we realize he is far from omnipotent. Though he repeatedly tells Eddie “you have no recourse in the law,” he is incapable of actually stopping him from calling the Immigration Bureau. In fact, when Alfieri forewarns us at the very beginning that he “sat there…powerless…and watched it run its bloody course,” he perhaps implies that if the social codes of the Sicilian-American society had not been present, and official laws more convincing, Eddie would not have died and Alfieri, a “man of the law,” could actually have prevented the tragic ending. After all, identity is formed by society. Perhaps Miller here wants the audience to strip away prejudices, just as Eddie fails to do, and to realize the horrors that street loyalty, violence, and identification create.

As a lawyer, Alfieri highlights the significance of justice and the law, although as he demonstrates, he is not confining himself to official law: moral, ethnic, social, traditional, Italian, American. At the beginning of Act One, Alfieri sets out law and justice as key themes —“I am a lawyer…and in Sicily…the law has not been a friendly idea since the Greeks were beaten.” The paradox here that “to meet a lawyer or a priest on the street is unlucky” positions a cultural specific custom based on self-preservation and self-action. Alfieri mentions Al Capone, “the greatest Carthaginian of all” and “Frankie Yale.” Both Brooklyn gangsters and friends, they were brought up on a Mafia code of justice, a code based on loyalty and revenge. For example, as part of The Chicago Outfit, the biggest criminal organization in the midwestern United States, they distributed illegal alcohol during Prohibition. At one time, the primary leader Big Jim Colosimo and his nephew Johnny Torrio had a falling out over Torrio’s insistence that they expand into smuggling over sea, a tactic with which Colosimo disagreed. In 1920, Colosimo was killed on Torrio’s order by Capone and Yale; for the Mafia, Colosimo had betrayed them and, as Miller explains, “there’s nothing more horrifying than betrayal”(1987 interview). Alfieri therefore grapples with the main issues of violence and betrayal right from the beginning and, by doing so, foreshadows the end before the audience has gotten there; we care less about the ending, and more about the tough situations in 1940s Brooklyn.

While the American custom is now to“settle for half,” when Alfieri enters the play in Act Two, he discovers that Marco is still fixed in a Sicilian idea of the law. As soon as Eddie calls Immigration on Marco and Rodolpho, Marco wants revenge —“He degraded…my blood”— but Marco does not “understand this country” because his custom is to fight for his own name —“In my country he would be dead by now,” Therefore, here Alfieri “is crucial in showing how civil law and its justice conflict with the morals operating in the Sicilian-American society”(Stephen Marino) and demonstrates the perversity of what we called justice. Alfieri highlights Marco’s ignorance of how society works and allows Miller to uncover the harsh social codes that guided the powerful Mafia leadership.

Arthur Miller thus offers a structurally sound play, with Alfieri positioned as the chorus to allow the audience to understand what it was like to grow up around the Brooklyn dockyards. By letting Alfieri suggest what the ending will be from the opening scene, Miller creates what he calls a “single arch narrative” whereby the audience can watch the characters encounter their dramatic end, having known what it would be two acts before. Alfieri deals with significant issues of violence, identity and betrayal to ask which law is absolute: Eddie’s American and moral, Marco’s Sicilian and social, or Alfieri’s traditional and official. Miller, however, leaves this question entirely unanswered, for even Alfieri, deemed the omniscient judge of character and rationale, leaves the play “with a certain…alarm.”

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American Identity in Roth and Miller

April 18, 2019 by Essay Writer

In American Pastoral and A View From the Bridge, Philip Roth and Arthur Miller respectively present family life as a tense realm of activity where relationship ties are easily stretched and broken. By setting their novels in Rimrock, New Jersey, and Brooklyn, the authors offer local and interrelated drama to symbolize the tragedy which unfolds when families begin to turn on each other. American Pastoral revolves around the life of Seymour “Swede” Levov and his demise after his daughter blows up a post office in revolt against the Vietnam War. A View From the Bridge centers on Eddie Carbone and his desperate grapple at masculinity within the family, eventually leading to his murder. The novels juxtapose ideas of the perfect American Dream and parasitic relationships; betrayal eventually eats away at familial trust to demonstrate that arguments and tensions occur in vain and leave us with nothing. We are our greatest enemies.

Both novels argue that ultimately, within a family, we are fighting against ourselves and hence are our own downfalls. American Pastoral suggests that within a family there is a lack of trust and that, behind the facades, we do not really know what those closest to us are thinking. Roth writes that “you fight your superficiality, your shallowness, so as to try to come at people without unreal expectations,” which seems to imply that the pretenses are nevertheless present, but that they are being buried so as to appear non-existent, suggesting a duality among humans. This duality then presents a lack of trust, particularly among families, as we assume that loved ones’ appearances are earnest. Roth supports this argument with the motif of the glove, as Rita Cohen proclaims to Swede, “A whole family and all you really fucking care about is the skin. Ectoderm. Surface. But what’s underneath, you don’t have a clue.” Indeed, Swede owns the glove factory, a business based on covering things up, and Dawn undergoes a face lift to retain her earlier model-status appearance. However, while this does seem to confirm that there is no trust, rather the opposite is perhaps true: there is too much trust. In a family, growing up with people of the same blood, you take for granted a sort of faith, and this then leads to disruption. Roth writes, “they are crying intensely, the dependable father whose center is the source of all order…—for whom keeping chaos far at bay had been intuition’s chosen path to certainty…—and the daughter who is chaos itself.” This odd balance between order and chaos, father and daughter, resonating with yin and yang, emphasizes the fact that while the two fit perfectly together, they are in conflict. Though Merry believed she was revolting against America and the Vietnam War, she was in fact destroying the man who based his entire life on America and the dream it promised, providing the narrative with layers of order, manifested in the gloves, facelift and superficiality, and chaos underneath. Ultimately, however, Roth flips this entirely; though Swede can blame Merry and the bombing for his fall, the cancer inside him kills him anyway, which perhaps offers the conclusion that we can offload issues onto the close-knit family members but really, the issue is ourselves. And so this extends to American identity as a whole, in that it is its own biggest enemy. Dealing with the issue of terrorism, Merry, to rebel against American action in Vietnam, blew up her home town and killed an innocent man. Internationally, America is attacked by terrorists coming from countries attacked by America, offering a cyclical structure. Roth then suggests that families feign trust when, underneath, they’re attacking one another and offloading their own problems.

A View From the Bridge tackles the issue of offloading in a similar way by placing taboos of improper love, homophobia, and xenophobia as causes for Eddie’s death, when really the issue is his own ideology. When Eddie dies, the most obvious reason appears to lie in the reporting of Marco and Rodolpho to the Immigration Bureau and the tensions caused by Rodolpho’s relationship with Catherine. At the very beginning of the play, Eddie is portrayed as an overprotective uncle as he tells his niece “don’t aggravate me, Katie, you are walkin’ wavy!” and when her engagement with Rodolpho begins, Eddie professes that “he gives me the heeby-jeebes.” Particularly when Eddie “kisses [Catherine] on the mouth,” a psychoanalytic reading might reference a reversed Oedipus complex, in which the father desires possession over the daughter. Again, when Eddie reasons that Rodolpho “sings, he cooks, he could make dresses …” and hence determines he is homosexual, a clearly homophobic reading can be drawn; together, these interpretations seem to offer enough evidence to suggest that Eddie falls due to both his improper love for Catherine and homophobia. However, just as Roth showed that the fall of the Swede was not due to the Vietnam War or even terrorism, but the destruction from within the family, Miller shows that Eddie’s death is due to his own obsession with masculinity and control over the family.

In a BBC interview in 1987, Miller said that Eddie “may believe Rodolpho is gay, but he is compelled to, he has to, so he can distance his own issues” which in fact evaluates both books perfectly: the characters offload their issues onto the closest family members around them to protect themselves. Indeed, Miller wrote many of his plays during the 1950s, at a time when communism was supposedly at large in America and Senator Joseph McCathy’s attempts against it ran rampant. McCarthy issued a blacklist of all communist sympathizers in America, conducted by the House Un-American Activities Committee, and to gather such a list, he issued investigations and interrogations, one being that of Arthur Miller himself; Miller however defied the court to name anyone. And so just as his play The Crucible can be read through this scope in that the Salem Witch Trials correspond to the trials in the 1950s, A View From the Bridge can be read similarly. Eddie betrays his family by reporting Marco and Rodolpho and the other cousins to the police, which angers Marco, leading to Eddie’s murder. So in fact, by characterizing Eddie as a man who acts antithetically to Miller himself, by betraying family, Miller emphasizes that when we turn on our own family, we bring about our own demise. Merry did not rebel against America’s involvement in Vietnam but against her father’s life, and Eddie did not act morally in reporting the cousins but killed himself; Alfieri found “his death useless.” And so Miller and Roth reinforce the idea that the biggest issue in our life is not terrorism, or homosexuality, or immigration, but our own prejudices and ideologies, brought about by ourselves.

Both novels then question the realism of obtaining the American Dream: to lead a perfect family. In American Pastoral, Roth opens by portraying the Swede as the perfect American man: “the name was magical, so was the anomalous face…none possessed anything remotely like the steep-jawed, insentient Viking mask…as Seymour.” Indeed, even in the Chapter entitled “The Fall,” the Swede remains stereotypically perfect. The repetition of simple active verbs in “he’d walk a bit and stop, walk a bit and stop…and that was how it went for hours” suggests a basic and relaxed life, owning land and cattle, which was the pinnacle of the American Dream. This is evaluated in the anaphoric list “Got to marry a beautiful girl named Dwyer. Got to run a business my father built…Got to live in the prettiest spot in the world”; for the Swede, up until the point when Merry committed terrorism, “he’d made it.” However, Roth also comments on the realism of obtaining this condition, implying that beyond the lures of the 1960s, the American Dream was a facade. Throughout 1960s America, President Lyndon B. Johnson, after the failures of Kennedy, promised to initiate reforms to give “a hand up, not a handout”: ‘Medicare’ for elderly, ‘Head Start’ for children, ‘Job Corps’ for the unemployed. However, beyond the seemingly dreamlike society, the North Vietnamese Tet Offensive suggested America would lose the Vietnam War and large riots tore apart America.

And so, with the novel set in this time, Roth questions the surface. He writes that the Swede “was now far and away the stronger partner, [Dawn] was now far and away the weaker,” appearing to emphasize the stereotypical masculinity of the American family; however, the irony is that Dawn is moving on from the Swede by having an affair with Orcutt and so she is in fact the stronger partner. Again, later on when the characters are at a dinner party, the reader is told that “The Orcutts had three boys and two girls, all grown up now, living and working at jobs in New York,” information which appears especially reminiscent of the Swede at the beginning of the novel: “He had brought photographs of his three boys…which boy was better at lacrosse…which was as good at soccer as at football.” The reader here sees a dramatic shift from the relaxed and family orientated man to by the end of the novel, “being a captive confined to a future-less box where he was not to think…not to think…not to think”; this repetition and diction emphasizes the constricting of the Swede’s life after he trusted Dawn and settled down. The motif of trust circulates Roth’s novel immensely, and is especially apt during the 1970s Watergate crisis. in 1972, President Nixon ordered the break-in at the Democratic National Committee to place a tap on the phone of the party chairman, Lawrence O’Brien, sparking a constitutional crisis over not trusting the US president. Hence, as the characters sit around the dinner table in “the summer of the Watergate hearings,” Roth suggests that trusting is a vulnerable and ultimately fatal action. The Swede begins his life setting out for the American Dream with Merry and Dawn, only for his daughter to turn to terrorism and her whereabouts be covered up by the woman he was having an affair with, and for his wife to commit adultery in their kitchen with her plastic surgeon, and for them to build a house while Dawn is planning to divorce the Swede. Roth then evaluates that this Dream is flawed; the perfect family life will break down when those we trust turn against us.

Similarly, in A View from the Bridge, Miller indicates that the perfect American family is equally difficult to obtain. He begins by characterizing Eddie as the stereotypically dominant male with Beatrice a passive wife. Alfieri says that Eddie “was a good a man as he had to be in a life that was hard and even. He worked on the piers…he brought home his play, and he lived” and this simple repetition of basic verbs emphasizes the simple life Eddie was leading, with the repetition of “he” reinforcing that he was head of the family, characterized as the Italian-style family-man. This then extends to ensuring Catherine dresses within his expectations, telling her “you’re the madonna type,” and while this character’s views seem unnecessarily restrictive, Miller portrays him as the typically superior father-figure in the family in the 1950s, aiming for the American Dream. However, just as Roth did, Miller begins to imply how unobtainable this Dream is. Beatrice asks, “When am I gonna be a wife again, Eddie?” leading Eddie to “already weakening…Pause. He can’t speak.” Clearly, in his obsession over Catherine and Rodolpho, he has neglected Beatrice and their relationship. Likewise paralleling the situation in American Pastoral, Eddie’s dreams align perfectly with Rodolpho’s, just as the Swede’s did with Orcutt’s. Rodolpho says, “I would like to go to Broadway…I would like to walk with her once where the theatres are and the opera,” and this statement epitomizes the American Dream in aiming for New York. However, though both Eddie and Rodolpho are searching for the perfect family life, Eddie believes that if he cannot have it, no one can, and so turns to claiming Rodolpho’s homosexuality to cover. Similarly, Roth writes, “Welcome to the fucked-over-by-America human race!” and this statement emphasizes that for capitalism to work, some people have to have more. In both works, the authors suggest that society is dog-eat-dog and no matter the family connections or consequences, each person is solely after his or her own aspirations; though family may be perceived as self-less, behind human’s facades, animalistic hedonism lurks.

In American Pastoral and A View from the Bridge, then, the authors comment on the pretenses of society and on whether we can actually trust anyone. In the former narrative, Roth creates the Swede as the pinnacle of America: perfect house, perfect wife, perfect family. And yet those exact things turn against him, as his daughter destroys his life and his wife has an affair. In the latter, Eddie’s values of his dignity and identity seem moral and upstanding at first; however, when he decides to report the cousins and upset Catherine, the principles turn against him. At the very beginning, he says “Believe me, Katie, the less you trust, the less you be sorry,” a quotation which aptly summarizes the message from both authors: don’t trust anyone. And yet of course this works both ways, as by professing “Believe me” Catherine should turn and ignore Eddie, for “the less you be sorry.” Roth writes a novel as a social commentary on sociology, and yet behind everything, Zuckerman narrates the novel, entirely making up the Swede’s disastrous life: we can’t even trust the narrator. And so both books conclude that family is flawed, and that those nearest and dearest to us are most likely to turn hostile; we cannot trust anyone, particularly not, especially not, our families.

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“A View From the Bridge explores the difficulties migrants face in adapting to a new culture.”

April 4, 2019 by Essay Writer

The heart of conflict in Arthur Miller’s A View From the Bridge is the struggle to reconcile the array of conflicting social, moral and legal laws to which an individual is bound and to determine which of those deserves one’s primary allegiance. This struggle exists, to a greater or lesser extent, in all individuals, yet becomes far more apparent and problematic for those encountering the challenge of trying to acclimatize to a new culture. In this play, that new culture is the complex one of Red Hook and its new inhabitants must “settle for half,” learning to accommodate Sicilian tradition with US law. Alfieri represents the successful negotiation of such a combination, understanding the balance between American legislation- a “specific,” rational law- and Italian customs, which value loyalty, integrity, honour and, above all, community. However, the play demonstrates that adapting as Alfieri has is not such a simple task, and much conflict arises between Marco and Eddie, both of whom are inextricably bound to Italian traditions and seek indiscriminate punishment, which the law of the land has not been designed to provide. It is this inability to “settle for half,” to become “civilized, quite American” and accept US law over primal justice that spurs the two men on towards a tragic conclusion.Alfieri firmly dictates that “it is better to settle for half- it must be!” As a man of Italian descent, he understands and respects the rich traditions of Italian society, remembering a time when people were “justly shot by unjust men,” acknowledging the seedy mishaps that occur on the docks (with cases of whisky “slipping” from the nets as they “are inclined to do”) and turning a blind eye to the illegal smuggling of submarines that the community supports. Yet Alfieri has studied and practices American law- he is firm that this must be the overruling authority in society, declaring that “there is no other law,” and tries to coerce Eddie to accept that “the law is very specific;” it is based on rationality rather than emotion. At the same time, Alfieri seems to acknowledge that US law can never really achieve justice in the traditional sense- “only God makes justice,” he explains, “I’m only a lawyer.” He has found a balance that allows him to be “quite civilized, quite American,” and he “likes it better.” While Eddie initially seems to have successfully negotiated the combination of roles of being an Italian and an American, a husband and an uncle, and a family man and a longshoreman, it soon emerges that he is inherently unable to reconcile the conflicting moral and social laws that simultaneously demand his allegiance. As an American citizen, Eddie is bound by the law of the nation, including laws in which he does not believe, but he is comfortable with pushing the boundaries of such legislation, clearly viewing authority as the enemy as he asserts “this is the United States government you’re playin with, this is the Immigration Bureau.” Indeed, Red Hook is a society in which “the law has not been a friendly idea,” an attitude stemmed from a rich history of “three thousand years of distrust,” and both petty and organized crime are an accepted part of daily life, as reflected as Eddie supports the captain’s right to be “pieced off” and promises to “bust a bag” of coffee for his family from the ship that he is unloading. For Eddie maintains an intense commitment to an unwritten subcultural law demanding communal conduct, a tradition that values loyalty and honour and takes pride in supporting illegal immigrants. Eddie demonstrates his fervent belief in such traditions through the parable of Vinny Bolzano, asserting that the boy deserved to be treated so harshly for his betrayal- “a guy do a think like that? How’s he gonna show his face?” This is emphasized later as Alfieri reminds Eddie that the only legal issue regarding the cousins is “the way they entered the country,” and Eddie’s emphatic reaction “oh Jesus, no, I wouldn’t do nothing about that,” reflects how strongly he values his allegiance to subcultural laws.In addition to this, Eddie endorses traditional familial values, a domestic law that binds him to his wife and niece, illustrated through the way in which Eddie has “worked like a dog…walked plenty of days hungry” just to provide for his family, and he respects a natural law, which prevents him from acknowledging his improper feelings. The conflicting demands of all these laws, each fighting for his primary allegiance, create such intense confusion that Eddie ultimately succumbs to the law for which he has the least regard. As he reports Marco and Rodolpho to the Immigration, the very institution that he views as the enemy, Eddie ultimately betrays every other law that he values.Marco exists as a symbol of primitive justice, dissatisfied with American law and refusing to accept that “if (Eddie) obeys the law, he lives.” He is in complete disbelief that US legislation cannot provide justice, asserting bitterly “I do not understand this country” and challenging bellicosely “all the law is not in a book!” although Alfieri firmly assures him that “there is no other law.” Marco, like Eddie, feels that justice is inextricably intertwined with honour, and the Italian values entrenched within him dictate that honour is worth killing or dying for. He considers it “dishonourable” to allow Eddie to live, but he has given his word not to kill. Marco finds a loophole in this agreement in the ensuing fight with Eddie, and the older man dies by his own knife, restoring “justice” in Marco’s eyes yet allowing him to keep his word. Rodolpho, in contrast to his older brother, is eager to embrace American culture; he is enthralled by “all those lights” and enthusiastically spends his hard-earned money on records, movie magazines and American clothes, which Eddie scorns as “a snappy new jacket…a pointy pair of new shoes.” He declares “me, I want to be an American!” and his language leans towards the flamboyant, lyrical expression that he admires, likening Catherine to a little bird. However, Rodolpho’s enthusiasm for a new culture inculcates much suspicion in Eddie, who views such extreme and rapid adaptation to America as inappropriate, for this is something that even he, who has lived here all his life, has been unable to do. Thus Eddie uses Rodolpho’s zeal for America as a base for a campaign against the younger man, claiming that he is “only bowin to his passport” and suggesting that he is using Catherine simply to gain the rights to be an American citizen. His enthusiasm for New York is turned against him- his desire to visit Broadway causes Eddie to later accuse “he’s got bright lights in his head, Broadway…he’s lookin for his break, that’s all.” In reality, it appears that Rodolpho’s enthusiasm is simply his way of making the most of the little opportunities that he has. In an uncharacteristically somber and candid outburst of emotion, Rodolpho shouts “only work we don’t have!…That is the only wonder here, work!, but his unusual zest for life and his overflowing optimisim, claiming that he will “start to be something wonderful here” are enough to cause suspicion and contempt in the jaded inhabitants of Red Hook, who are resigned to their hard, monotonous lifestyle, no longer aspiring for romantic dreams of a better life as Rodolpho does.  

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“Ultimately, the tragedy of a View From the Bridge is the inability of the main characters to articulate their feelings.”

March 4, 2019 by Essay Writer

In Arthur Miller’s A View From the Bridge, Eddie’s death is made all the more tragic because it stems from his inability to understand – let alone articulate – his feelings. The play depicts the downfall and death of a decent man due to a fatal flaw. While Eddie’s incestuous desire for Catherine is the impetus of his downfall and the threat of Rodolpho the catalyst, what ultimately causes his destruction is his inherent inability to understand or express what he feels. As a result Eddie suffers confusion and inner turmoil that lead to extreme overprotection of his niece, an intense hatred of Rodolpho, and problems within his own marital life. All of these problems stem from Eddie’s inability to understand or express his feelings, and eventually they culminate in his death.The play is carefully crafted such that the audience becomes aware of Eddie’s feelings for Catherine gradually, initially accepting his protectiveness as natural paternal concern, then growing increasingly uneasy as hints of a deeper inappropriate attraction emerge, until by the conclusion of the first act there is little doubt in the audience’s mind that Eddie has found himself consumed by a forbidden desire. The interaction between Eddie and Catherine at the beginning of the play emanates subtle undercurrents of uneasiness- without actually being lovers, they share many moments of mild flirtation and affection beyond the regular levels of intimacy commonly shared between uncle and niece. Catherine fawns over Eddie, “walking him to the armchair,” “taking his arm,” and lighting his cigar for him, an action that, while perhaps lost on a modern audience, would have a more uncomfortable effect on an audience of the fifties, as in films of this period such a gesture was used to distinctly convey sexual attraction, and, though the audience never sees this, Beatrice’s speech reveals that Catherine often walks around in her slip in front of Eddie, or sits talking to him while he shaves in his underwear. The stage directions often indicate the obsession that Eddie himself cannot himself express- despite how troubled he is, he “can’t help smiling at the sight of her,” and whenever Catherine is not present his gaze lowers or turns away. At one point, when Catherine leaves the room, Eddie “stands looking towards the kitchen for a moment,” his gaze lingering after her, and he is “pleased, and therefore shy about” the attention that his niece pays to him.These small indications accumulate to establish a realization of the truth in the audience’s consciousness, which is then emphasized by the affirmations of both Alfieri and Beatrice, who can also sense what Eddie cannot. Alfieri tries to gently advise Eddie that “every man’s got somebody that he loves, but sometimes there’s too much…there’s too much and it goes where it mustn’t,” and urges him to relinquish his possessive hold over Catherine. Later, he more blatantly challenges him, “She wants to get married. She can’t marry you, can she?” but, rather than absorbing this suggestion, Eddie’s frustration explodes into rage, shouting “I don’t know what the hell you’re talking about!” Similarly, Beatrice’s speech often reveals an awareness of Eddie’s feelings that he lacks. She warns Catherine to behave appropriately for her age (“You’re a grown woman and you’re in the same house with a grown man. So you’ll act different now, heh?”), suggesting that she is aware of the effect that Catherine’s overly affectionate behavior is having on Eddie. She gives a “quiet, sad laugh” as she comments wryly that Catherine should have considered Beatrice’s jealousy before. She grows impatient with Eddie, snapping at him “I want you to cut it out now, you hear me? I don’t like it!” but Eddie dismisses her coldly, refusing to even contemplate any deeper cause of his feelings.Eddie knows that something in his life is wrong, that there is something distressing him and causing him such a confusing spectrum of emotions, yet he cannot decipher the cause of such feelings. As he lacks the ability to reflect insightfully on his emotions and figure out what the problem is, he transfers the real issue to whatever else he can. Initially, his suppressed desire manifests itself in an intense overprotection of Catherine, fretting about the dangers of her new job. He rants about the location being unsafe, snapping “I don’t like that neighborhood over there,” and warning that “near the Navy Yard plenty can happen in a block and a half,” concluding that he wants her to be “with a different kind of people.” While his concern for her safety is surely genuine, Eddie deludes himself that this is the primary cause of his panic. In fact, his desperation is more likely to be stemmed from a desire to keep Catherine within his sight, worried about her slipping away from him, both physically (“Where’s she going?” and “Then you’ll move away”) and emotionally (“Why didn’t you ask me before you take a job?”). Similarly, he grouches about Catherine being “out on the street twelve o’clock at night” and even resorts to waiting outside for her and Rodolpho to return from the movies, believing his distress at her being out with another man to be merely concern for her safety. The arrival of Rodolpho and Marco instigates a new outlet for Eddie’s projected feelings, and as Catherine grows increasingly “enthralled” with Rodolpho’s eccentric appearance and exuberant personality, Eddie comes “more and more to address Marco only.” His initial “concealed suspicion” of the younger man soon develops into an intense and irrational hatred that Eddie justifies through a range of different accusations and slights on his character. In his first campaign against Rodolpho, he disparages what he perceives to be excessively effeminate qualities, suspicious of his blond hair, slight build and talent for singing, cooking and making dresses. “He’s like a weird,” he scorns, unable to clearly articulate what he means, explaining simply that “the guy ain’t right.” Secondly, he convinces himself, and tries to convince Catherine, that Rodolpho is “only bowing to his passport,” using her to gain the right to be an American. When these verbal attempts fail, Eddie resorts to articulating his feelings through action, attempting to humiliate Rodolpho by “mildly staggering” him in a supposedly playful boxing game and later, in a drunken rage, kissing him to “show [Catherine] what he is.” Finally, the “passion that had moved into his body like a stranger” drives Eddie to commit the ultimate betrayal- reporting Marco and Rodolpho to the Immigration. Eddie similarly transfers his frustration onto Beatrice, periodically blaming her for being “mad at [him] lately” and victimizing him, interpreting his own dramatic change in character as a change in Beatrice. “You used to be different…you had a whole different way,” he complains, and asserts that he is being continuously attacked by her arbitrary reprimands, claiming “it’s a shooting gallery in here and I’m the pigeon.” Beatrice’s lament “When am I gonna be a wife again?” reveals the extent to which Eddie’s desire for Catherine has affected the couple and how estranged from each other they have become. Eddie’s physical impotence becomes a symbol for his inherent powerlessness and inability to express what he is feeling. Eddie exacerbates this problem by refusing to search for a deeper cause. Instead he dismisses the issue defensively, initially claiming “I haven’t been feeling good since (Marco and Rodolpho) came,” then refusing to discuss the matter (“I cant, I cant talk about it…I got nothing to say about it!”) and finally declaring that it is his right as a husband to dictate “what I feel like doin in the bed and what I don’t feel like doin.” Although Beatrice accepts these explanations, Eddie continues to project his anger onto her, interpreting his tumultuous feelings as offence due to a lack of respect. “I want my respect, Beatrice, and you know what I’m talking about,” he commands, and chastises her angrily with “I don’t like the way you talk to me.” When Beatrice finally confronts Eddie with the truth, screaming “You want somethin else, and you can never have her!” his reaction is not that of one who has been finally enlightened, but rather “shocked, horrified, his fists clenching,” and he responds typically with anger: “That’s what you think of me- that I would have such a thoughts?” Moments later Eddie dies by his own knife, a clear manifestation of his self destruction, but the true tragedy of his demise is that it occurred before he had the chance to work through his feelings, to properly absorb what Beatrice has told him and to at last understand the reasons for his downfall. In Marco’s eyes, justice is restored; he believes it “dishonorable” for Eddie to live. Alfieri describes the death more aptly as “useless,” for it came before Eddie had the opportunity to understand himself and his motivations.  

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