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Look at the opening scene between Eddie and Catherine (pages 5-12)

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Look at the opening scene between Eddie and Catherine (pages 5-12)
and the scene in which Catherine has just returned from the picture
house (pages 26-29).How do these scenes foreshadow the breakdown in
Eddie and Catherine’s relationship?

A young girl disobeying her father? That would have been unheard of in
the 1950’s, about the time that Arthur Miller wrote ‘A View from the
Bridge’. That’s why an audience of that day and age, would have
immediately become aware that the relationship between Eddie Carbone,
and his niece Catherine was destined to end in tears and tragedy. The
constant display of sexual inequality between Eddie and Catherine
throughout the play would have been the norm in those days, as men
were thought of as extremely superior than females. Miller has
introduced the audience to a family that seems normal; the father
figure being the breadwinner and provider, caring for his family. This
has two effects on the audience. It encourages the audience to approve
of the Carbone family, as they seem regular and would fit the
stereotype of a perfect family, of that time, but it also builds
tension among the audience. The audience becomes eager to see what
problems will arise for this ‘perfect’ family, and already the tension
has started to mount. Miller intentionally set the opening scene in
this way, to promote the audience to stay interested and intrigued by
the play.

From the opening scene, it inevitable to the audience, that the
relationship shared between Eddie and Catherine Carbone, will not end
on a positive note. Although the audience take into account that Eddie
is the only father figure Catherine has ever known, and for this
reason she shows ample respect and gratitude towards him, they cannot
turn a blind eye to the desperate requirement of approval that
Catherine seeks from her uncle. “I styled it different. You like it?”
Her thirst to be accepted by him seems unnatural, and Eddies thirst to
be needed by his niece seems to be a violation of her privacy and own
social life. Eddie seems to enjoy Catherine acting vulnerable and in
need of his attention, as he continuously draws the topic of
conversation back to her. The conversation turns from “...He’s here
B.!” from Catherine, to “Beautiful…Lemme see in the back” from Eddie.
Miller has shown us that

Eddie is an insecure man, who has a craving to be wanted. This would
increase the tension and suspense for an audience of the 1950s, as a
grown man would naturally be the dominant, most respected person in
the family, often very haughty and proud, not in a state of
desperation to be yearned for by someone who looked up to him as a
father. When Catherine announces that she has a job, the audience
witness a slightly more aggressive side of Eddie as he
over-protectively debates the matter of his attractive niece working
alongside “…a lotta plumbers and sailors”. Eddie selects multiple
reasons as to why Catherine shouldn’t take the job, including “I know
that neighbourhood…I don’t like it,” but here it seems that Eddie may
be too protective of his niece. The audience are now certain that
Eddie has the wrong outlook towards his relationship with Catherine.
Miller has built and strengthened the growing tension, so the audience
is completely drawn into the play, and can hardly wait for the rest of
the story line to unfold. By this time, Miller has enabled the
audience to realize that Eddie cannot bring himself to let go of his
niece, he obviously feels frustration upon realizing that Catherine
has grown up and is no longer dependant on him. The audience can
already detect a breakdown in the relationship between Eddie and
Catherine, as he wants to keep her caged up, but she wants her
freedom.

Alfeiri’s role in the play also emphasizes the breakdown in the
relationship between Eddie and Catherine, as he plays an all-knowing
character, constantly lurking around the opening and closing scenes,
acting as the chorus. Miller chose to have the chorus told by a
mysterious figure, to add mystery and suspense to the play, and to
ensure that the audience focused on the main breakdown, instead of
coming to their own conclusions about what may have happened. Miller
intentionally guided the audience to their beliefs about the play, by
making Alfeiri focus on certain aspects of the play. Without Alfeiri,
the idea of tragedy within the play, between Catherine and Eddie would
not have been expressed as effectively as it was. By trying to banish
Catherine’s only happiness, Eddie actually broadened the distance
between himself and his niece. The idea of tragedy is expressed mainly
on Catherine’s behalf. She has lost her only father figure, and has
been scarred with an ever lasting impression of what men are like; how
controlling they are, and how they selfishly only consider their own
needs. It is obvious to the audience that Catherine looked up to
Eddie, but now believes that he was only taking advantage of her. She
believes that her uncle is a cold- hearted, useless “…rat” who should
stay away from her. She no longer respects his authority, “Who the
hell do you think you are? You got no more right to tell nobody
nothin” expresses Catherine’s anger, and allows the audience to feel
sorrow for this naïve girl, who has lost the only family member that
she loved and completely trusted.

The audience have now witnessed a complete breakdown in the
relationship between Eddie and Catherine Carbone, and nothing can be
done to resolve the situation between them, as the damage has been
done. It is clear that between pages 5-12 and 26-29 the relationship
between Catherine and Eddie is shown to come to a dramatic end, and
finally does. From witnessing the first scene involving Catherine and
Eddie, the audience can conclude that the relationship is bound to end
with hatred, bitter hostility and tears…which of course it does. By
portraying Eddie as a confused, insecure male, and Catherine as a
naïve young girl, the breakdown between their relationship is
foreshadowed as being inevitable from the beginning.

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