The Contrasting of America and Italy in A View from the Bridge

The Contrasting of America and Italy in A View from the Bridge

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The Contrasting of America and Italy in A View from the Bridge

Arthur Miller's A View from the Bridge presents many different views
of America, not only do you see America through the eyes of an
Immigrant but also through the eyes of the regular working people, for
instance the longshoremen.

Within Alfieri's speech, we get our first ideas of what America was
like for Eddie, Beatrice and Catherine. The speech highlights,
cultural connections 'Frankie Yale himself was cut precisely in half
by a machine gun on the corner of Union Street' this shows the
influence and grip the Mafia had over American Culture in the 1950's.
When describing the area, where Eddie and Beatrice live, he describes
it as 'the slum that faces the bay' which gives the impression, of a
run down area where only the poor live. He uses the simile 'the gullet
of New York, swallowing the tonnage of the world.' Which gives image
of a place that has boats coming from all over the world laden with
cargo and more. It gives Red Hook, the image of an unsightly place,
where people have to work to their limit to feed and support their
families.

In my opinion Eddie, Beatrice and Catherine are there to show the
typical Italian American family of the 1950's. Their house is what
most of the longshoremen and their families would live in. It is only
a small tenement flat. In the early section of Act One, Miller
contrasts the flat, to the living conditions in Sicily and Southern
Italy, he voices the comparison through Eddie's response, to
Beatrice's worries about needing a new table cloth and cleaning the
flat, which is 'listen, they'll think this it's a millionaire's house
compared to the way they live.' This is showing, why there were so
many immigrants coming into America, the living conditions were so
much better than in their countries, even the poorest were living like
Kings in the eyes of the immigrants.

Catherine, I believe is symbolising the future, because she is the
one, who wants to move on with her life, and become a stenographer and
work for a company. But Eddie, who still believes in the archaic ways
that the man should do the working, tries to discourage her from
taking the job. In a way, Catherine being offered the job is showing
the 'American Way' that anyone can get a job in America, even an
immigrant.

But soon the conversation turns back to Beatrice's immigrant cousins
and about the American Immigration Bureau. This gives the image of a
country full of rules and regulations, a place where there is law and

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order, peace amongst the chaos of the rest of the world. To Marco and
Rodolfo, the immigration bureau would be their first main obstacle,
and then they would be able to make a new life in America. They then
go on to talk about Vinny Bolzano. This short conversation gives you a
taste of what life was like, and how the Italian Americans felt about
'Stool Pigeons[1]' and what they think about their immigrant brethren.

Once, the Immigrants Marco and Rodolfo, come into the text, it gives
you an immediate impression of the way they were living back in Sicily
at the time, ' this will be the first house I ever walked into in
America! Imagine! She said they were poor!' is showing that the living
conditions in Sicily and Southern Italy at the time were not
equivalent to that of a working class citizen of America. Also when
Eddie asks 'Yiz ever work on the piers in Italy?' the response is
there are no piers in Italy, which is suggesting that America has a
greater industry, trade network and economy then Southern Italy.
Rodolfo goes on to say that there are only beaches and lots of fishing
boats, and that they will do any work that comes 'build a house, fix a
bridge ' which brings Eddie to respond with 'Still Bad there, heh?'
which gives the impression that he did not always live in America, and
that he knows about the hardships. It also gives a huge contrast
between America and Italy. It shows that America is a place where you
can get a job, earn money and still have free time and money to spend,
rather than having to work long hours, and rely on passengers of a
train for work. Catherine adds to this contrast when she exclaims 'You
gotta push a taxi?' because this would not have been a common
occurrence in America, but Italy it would seem it was a regular and
usual thing to do.

When Rodolfo asks how much money they could earn, Eddie astounds hem
by saying thirty or forty dollars a week, which again shows the
difference between the two cultures in an economic sense. Also when
Rodolfo talks about his stint as a baritone singer, he says 'money was
falling like a storm in the treasury. It was Magnificent. We lived six
months on that.' Showing that money is not worth the same or is used
the same way in the two different countries. It also highlights the
two immigrants lives that they could live in luxury on 'tips' thrown
at a small hotel concert.

After Alfieri's Interlude, Eddie is complaining about Catherine and
Rodolfo going to the theatre and Broadway so much. When Catherine
returns, she tells them what a good picture or film they saw and that
Rodolfo 'can't get over that there is no fountains in Brooklyn' this
is giving a contrast between the two cultures and the different
architectural ideas that both cultures have.

In Act 2, America becomes a darker and more sinister place, no longer
the glamorous place where everyone can get work and money. It starts
with Catherine and Rodolfo alone in the flat and Catherine brings up
the topic of possibly living in Italy once they get married, Rodolfo
is surprised and dumbfounded, he replies saying 'How can I bring you
from a rich country to suffer in a poor country' which really
validates that America is a much better place, even the slum of
America is better than Italy.

When Alfieri and Eddie are talking, the law and government of America
are conveyed, and it portrays a society with laws and regulations
where people can be safe and be in fear of getting attacked or there
being a lack of health care or medicines. This really serves as
another reminder of the differences between the two cultures involved
in A View from the Bridge. It would also seem that Eddie is torn
between two lives, his Life in America with his job and his house, or
the life of the Italian with the ideas of Omertà[2].

Eddie in a fit of jealousy, leaks information about Marco and Rodolfo
to the Immigration Bureau, committing a crime against his family and
the Italian Community, thus distancing himself from his family and the
two immigrants. This is shown with him sitting alone in his rocking
chair. He demands an apology of sorts from Marco and Rodolfo, claiming
he needs his respect back, bringing in the Italian Culture and the
idea of the Mafia and respect, which really emphasises the
Italian-American influences at the time A View from the Bridge, was
written.

In my opinion, A View from the Bridge is not only about the people in
the story, but also the cultures and societies they represent and how
those cultures influenced many people's lives and decisions at the
time. The story is full of contrasts between American life and the
Sicilian way of life showing the differences and similarities between
the two.

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[1] Someone, who passes on information to the authorities

[2] The Italian Code or Conspiracy of Silence
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