View Full Version : 20th Century Drama(A View from The Bridge

New Generation
03-18-2009, 02:11 PM
This assessment was for English GCSE. We had to explain how effectively Arthur Miller prepares us for Eddies tragic downfall in the play called "A view from The Bridge" which was a quite popular book and a play.

A View from the Bridge
20th Century Drama

Throughout Act 1 Arthur Miller prepares us for Eddie’s tragic downfall. How effectively does he do this?

Arthur Miller believes that “The prime business of a play is to arouse the passions of its audience.” He was born at the time where this book was based so he is emotionally and physically connected to th¬e feelings of how life was at that time. At that time immigration was massive to the USA, as well as illegal immigration. The play starts effectively with a lawyer called Alfieri as he enters the stage, lights on. He is the Greek chorus as well as a minor character in the play. He talks about Eddie Carbone who is the main character with a complex personality who has his standards who always likes to prove people wrong and protect the ones he loves. The Carbones live in a tenement. Immediately Alfieri cleverly prepares us for the tragedy that is about to come as he says “every few years there is still a case” and cleverly “I watched it run its bloody course.” This straight away tells us that this play is going to be a tragedy. Eddie has Catherine who is like a daughter to him but she is actually a niece so he deeply loves her in an avuncular way. The play is set in Red Hook, the poor slum area in New York where life is tough and demanding and where most working class people live. Eddie is a working class man, a longshoreman who is an overprotective but respected man who has “too much love” for Catherine which is the main dilemma of this vile tragedy. Eddie speaks Colloquial English so he can’t express himself fully. The Carbones have two cousins who live in Italy, Sicily where life is impossible and where Mafia used to rule the streets. This is what leads these two innocent starving cousins who are Rodolfo and Marco to leave Sicily Illegally as there’s no future for them except moving to Red Hook where Eddie lives, they call it “The land of opportunity.” but “the security is still the same” which is an effective line from the play that Arthur Miller came up with, this quote from one of Eddie’s points of view is when he tries to frighten and probably warn Rodolfo. This means people still can fight over things or even kill. Was Arthur Miller giving us a hint of what will happen at the end of this play? Quite possibly. The play integrates social problems, family problems and greed. Alfieri’s in depth pre telling of the story is what gives this play a complex and interesting layout.

From the start of Act 1, we see a cheerful family. Beatrice blesses Eddie by saying “You’ll see, you’ll get a blessing for this” for letting in the cousins from the suffering. Beatrice tells Eddie “You’re an Angel, God’ll bless you” which truly shows how Beatrice feels about Eddie’s kindness while Eddie might be kind but he is a cautious man. This truly shows what kind of man Eddie is at the start of the play. An important scene in the play is when Catherine talks about her new job that is located in Nostrand Avenue. Eddie immediately feels worried about her as it’s just near the coast where the longshoremen work. Eddie is worried about her young body that might get her in trouble. Eddie says “I want you to be with different kind of people” A feeling of ambition from Eddie is occurring. There is a scene where the Carbones family are happily eating at a table and discussing common things, Eddie mentions Vinny Bolzano, a young boy who “snitched” on his own family. He got kicked out of the house and got spit on which is a sign of death from Italy’s perspective. The boy left and was never seen again, simply put, dead. This is ironic as we later see. Eddie is quite a cautious man who is also in charge of the house. He is a respectable man who works hard at the shipyard. Catherine, who is an innocent girl, is growing into an adult. She loves Eddie with all her heart. We can see that in a scene when she lights the cigarette for him and when she kneels to talk to him. She is often called a “baby” by Eddie because he thinks she is not yet fully grown up and Beatrice thinks he is holding her back from Independence. Beatrice is a loving wife who always stays in the house. Though what Eddie worries most about Beatrice is “You have too big a heart” which means she is too kind. Is this one of the many reason why later in the play, Eddie doesn’t like to talk about the status of their broken sexual relationship?

The tension begins for Eddie when Rodolfo and Marco enter the house, immediately Eddie has a strange feeling about Rodolfo as he is blond, talkative and likes to sing. When Rodolfo starts to sing “Paper Doll” Catherine immediately what we might say “falls in love” but is she doing it for a different purpose? Eddie is immediately worried about her. Deep down he is quite outraged as she hasn’t explored the world and Rodolfo is the first man she starts to like which he thinks is not right. Eddie gives a lot of bad or incorrect advice to Catherine which confuses her because Beatrice as well gives advice but the reverse way. We see his tension when Eddie rises upstage when Rodolfo sings. He tells him to stop immediately as there was no singer in the house “and all of a sudden there’s a singer in the house” He is trying to imply that he doesn’t want any unnecessary attention to his house or is it that he can’t bear to see Catherine impressed by Rodolfo’s talent?

Weeks later, Eddie stands outside thinking about the situation when Beatrice pointedly asks “When am I going to be a wife again, Eddie?” There is a stage direction saying “She realises there is a campaign solidified in him” which tells us what Eddie might do to Rodolfo. This also tells us that all is not well between them. He has too many thoughts in his head about Rodolfo and his strange behavior in the shipyard. He sings and everyone laughs at him. This is not what Eddie wanted as he says “He gives me the heeby-jeebies.” This slightly gives us an idea of what Eddie might be thinking of him because Eddie is a respectable man in the neighborhood. He doesn’t like unusual things happening in his house and also because they entered illegally so there is a good chance they could get noticed by stool pigeons. Eddie feels angry and humiliated or is he feeling jealous as well? It all seemed like the family was breaking up gradually.

Weeks pass and Catherine gradually likes Rodolfo more but she is cautious as she imagines Eddie might get angry and she doesn’t want to do that because she thinks of Eddie as her caring father. A breakdown between Marco and Eddie’s trust and friendship collapses when he twists the newspaper with hidden anger, like a bull while saying “I can’t cook, I can’t sing” he is intelligently applying those words to Rodolfo which Marco doesn’t like but he doesn’t get involved as he is an intelligent man. Marco watches Eddie closely as he invites Rodolfo to a practice box fight. From the stage directions it tells us that he is deliberately trying to let his anger out on him while he accidentally punches Rodolfo, which he himself doesn’t sense it as an accident and his family as well but they play on with like when Beatrice says “He’s good!” Marco knows what happened there and he won’t forget that moment. Eddie sits down, breathing heavily while Marco slowly approaches Eddie and picks up a chair. He says “can you lift this chair?” which tells us straight away that this is going to be a test of strength and stamina “Eddie replies “Sure, why?” with complete confidence. Eddie starts to lift the chair with one hand on the chair stick, he is struggling and he lets Marco do it at which point Marco lifts the chair with ease and looks straight into Eddie’s eyes, which gives him a warning “you better watch out” Eddie’s smile disappears as he is engulfed with fear deep down in his heart which concludes Act 1.

Arthur Miller gives us a lot of clues as to why Eddie doesn’t like Rodolfo. Some of these are “He cooks, he sings.” The guy ain’t right” which tells us that Eddie thinks Rodolfo is attracted to the same gender. It’s mainly because he is blond and likes to sing bel canto songs which not a lot of people do on the pier as well as in town. Eddie feels the anger to kick him out of the house but his family is keeping him back from doing that, especially when Catherine starts to like the first man she sees and especially with Rodolfo’s intention of staying in America forever as he doesn’t have a family and he buys clothes with the money he earns. There is a scene when Catherine has no more respect for Eddie as she says “He’s a rat, he lives in the sewers!” Eddie looked like he was going to throw the table at her but hesitated which means he still has some love for her but it was an outrageous thing to say. Everyone in the family now knew that he was mad; no one was safe near him. The family was breaking apart. “This guy got it all planned out in his head, he’s staying” is what Eddie says when he speaks to Alfieri, because if you marry an American citizen, you yourself will become an official American citizen and you won’t be able to be kicked out by the Immigration Bureau which is why Eddie thinks he’s got it all planed in his head, but even by the end of the play we don’t know the reason he is marrying Catherine, either to stay here and then divorce or live with Catherine. Though in my opinion I think it’s more Staying with Catherine.

The most critical point of what leads Eddie to his own tragic downfall is when he calls the Immigration Bureau, after speaking to Alfieri who “prayed for him” but it was inevitable, it was all like a clash of fate. As Eddie went back home, he acted innocently and when Beatrice said that “Lipari the butcher – his nephew. “He jumped with surprise”. He tried to warn them to get out as fast as they can but it was too late. Eddie has made his own destiny now. Two officers came banging on the door “Open up!” Eddie tried telling them to run through the back exit. Still there was not enough time. Beatrice thought of him as a betrayer, a disgrace. The two officers took away the Lipari family as well as Marco and Rodolfo but Rodolfo was getting married next week so he could not get arrested. Marco forcefully broke from the two officers and spat on Eddie’s face which is indeed was a sign of impending death. Eddie shouted out “Oh, your mothers-! Eddie was now seriously outraged and he wanted his respect back straight away but I knew that he won’t get it back after what he did. He betrayed them, threw them out like dogs. There was no going back. There is a point where Catherine says “I don’t know what you want from me!” which leads Catherine to not knowing the same old Eddie; he doesn’t know what he wants from her.
In conclusion I felt that this was a very dramatic and an interesting tragic play. There were numerous scenes that portrayed humor and suspense such as when Rodolfo got kissed by Eddie who was drunk. It was both humorous but also disgusting. It was the only way Eddie could show that Rodolfo appealed to the same gender while Catherine scratched away at Eddies face as she screamed “I’m gonna kill you!” which really showed how angry Catherine was at Eddie. The stage directions really emphasized how characters reacted and felt. Eddie's character was both unique and disturbing. I feel that Eddie wanted both love and respect from his family. When Rodolfo’s relationship with Catherine became stronger, Eddie felt nervous and a little jealous. This overpowered his own judgment and resulted in feeding Catherine with false information, “Katie, he’s only bowing to his passport” Which means Rodolfo only wants to become an American citizen but he doesn’t have actual proof except his love. Is Eddie trying to save Catherine or does he do it to get rid of Rodolfo out of Catherine’s life? I strongly believe that Eddie’s judgment and actions were responsible for his own downfall. His jealously and hatred against Rodolfo soon became desperation to an extent where he called the Immigration Bureau thus betraying both his family and his friends. The most awful scene I’ve felt was dreadful was when Beatrice said to Eddie “You want something else, but you can never have her” which is a truly shocking thing to say to a husband. This meant that Eddie will not be able to love Catherine any longer. Eddie was an exceedingly greedy person and even after betraying the cousins and cursing his own respect, he still wanted respect from his loved ones. I feel that he deserved what he got and that his death was a clear result of his actions and a lack of good judgment.
1. A View from the Bridge by Arthur Miller.
2. A film version of the play.
3. Background notes from teacher.

Tl;dr: Alfieri(Lawyer and greek chorus) tells us about Eddies life and what a generous man he was but he had his standards. In Sicily there are two cousins called Rodolpho(younger) and Marco(Older, more serious) join their family in Red Hook. Eddie is a working class man and he doesn't like Rodolpho. Catherine who is an adopted like a "daughter" to Eddie starts to fall in love with Rodolpho and his singing. Eddie gets more mad and in time he comes drunk and kisses him, they fight but it's quickly over. Rodolpho is found out to be gay. He also being blamed to only want to marry Catherine for his passport in America(he came illegally). Marco doesn't like it. Eddie calls the Immigration Bureau. Marco is disgraced. Marco comes to Eddie house and they fight, Eddie gets out a knife. Eddie is overpowered and he gets stabbed. Justice is served.