A View From the Bridge by Arthur Miller

A View From the Bridge by Arthur Miller

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A View From the Bridge by Arthur Miller


The final moments of Act One are some of the most tense and dramatic
in the entire play, and thus they need to be emphasized in such a way
that the audience understand their significance and start anticipating
the next act. A director must be careful in doing this, to avoid
overdoing the drama and therefore making the production seem
unrealistic.

In this scene, the whole Carbone family - Eddie, Beatrice, Catherine,
Marco and Rodolpho - are in the living room of the Red Hook apartment.
They have just finished dinner and I think it would be a good idea to
have the sun setting on the horizon out of a window. Some brilliant
lighting effects could be done here. It also tells the audience that
the end of this act is nigh, so something dramatic is going to happen.

All of the characters in this scene are Italian immigrants, and the
play would not be done justice if they didn't have the appropriate
accents. They speak in Brooklynese dialect, which is a vigorous
language with lots of y'knows, ain'ts, sump'ms, and double negatives
in it, e.g. "she didn't take nothin' yet''. This reflects the
characters' lack of education due to poverty rather than intelligence.
Generally, Italian conversation contains a lot of liveliness and
gestures, and I would expect the immigrants to have taken that with
them to America. The actors in a production of this must have the
correct body language and at least not pronounce their 'g's when at
the end of words, i.e. nothin'.

By this stage in the play, Catherine has fallen in love with Rodolpho,
one of Beatrice's illegal immigrant cousins. He and his brother Marco
are lodging with the Carbones. Unknown to himself, or maybe just not
admitted, Eddie wants Catherine in another way than as a niece; this
is obvious throughout the play with his attempts to stop her growing
up. He comments on her short skirt and high heels, resents her getting
a job and forms a very strong grudge against Rodolpho which is based

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on pure jealousy. Eddie, when confronted about his strange behaviour,
puts it down to fearing for Catherine's safety and needing to protect
her as would an uncle in place of a father. "I don't like the
neighbourhood over there'', etc.

Beatrice is becoming aware of his feelings but does not comment or
action this realisation in this act; she is a very kind hearted person
who tries to appease everybody. I might tell the actress to reflect
this part of her by putting in some fake smiles.

Marco tries to stay neutral on the matter. He does defend Rodolpho in
the face of Eddie, but is firm with Rodolpho and gives him warnings,
("You come home early now, Rodolpho'') as he does not want him to get
into trouble and jeopardise his status with Eddie any further.

Leading up to the ending, there is a heated discussion going on where
Eddie is accusing Rodolpho of "dragging off Catherine without
permission''. During these conversations, pauses and silences can
encapsulate the tension, and the characters' feeling uncomfortable
with each other. Miller plays on this - "There is a pause, an
awkwardness''. At this point Eddie is using any excuse he can to put
Rodolpho down, in order to drive a wedge between him and Catherine. It
is not working as they are deeply in love, so he gets quite desperate
and resorts to blunt, put-down comments. Rodolpho is a laid-back,
light hearted character and Eddie tries to show up his femininity with
remarks like "He sings, he cooks, he could make dresses.'' This is a
hint that Rodolpho is homosexual, which Eddie finds the idea of
completely repulsive and hopes Catherine will too. His next ploy, near
the end of Act One, is to teach Rodolpho how to box, with the
intention of making him look feeble and sissy-like. Rodolpho crushes
his glory by being a very quick learner and impressing the rest of the
family. That done, Eddie retreats to a chair looking thoughtful, while
Catherine and Rodolpho are dancing to "Paper Doll''. The romance could
be represented casting a red or pink, fuzzy light on them. Eddie and
Marco, who the main focus is on, would be in a harder, unstructured
light so the audience can clearly see what's going on, and see the
characters' facial expressions, which are very important here.

Marco knows that Eddie has just tried to humiliate his brother, and
that having failed to do so, is at a weaker point. He challenges Eddie
to lift a chair above his head whilst kneeling on the floor with one
hand behind his back. Eddie manages to raise it a couple of
centimetres and laughs it off. When Marco does it, he not only lifts
it above his head but stands up as well. Miller writes his exact
movements…

"Marco is face to face with Eddie, a strained tension gripping his
eyes and jaw, his neck stiff, the chair raised like a weapon over
Eddie's head - and he transforms what might have been a glare of
warning into a smile of triumph, and Eddie's grin vanishes as he
absorbs his look''.

The 'glare of warning' in this is to tell Eddie that he knows what's
going on, and he cannot keep picking on Rodolpho and getting away with
it. Eddie obviously picks up on this message, as his grin fades.

This is the point where the story changes from a petty squabble to a
civil war, and it is now inevitable that Marco and Eddie will confront
each other. The best way for the drama to be maximised is by
orchestral music, which could start up quietly whilst Eddie lifts the
chair and gradually escalate. While Marco has a go, the music could
suddenly turn sinister-sounding, which correlates with the feelings of
the characters. As the sun drops down, the tension reaches a climax
and the music gets very loud, the audience should realise that it is
too late for Eddie to even try to accept Catherine and Rodolpho's
love, because Marco knows very well what he's up to. If Eddie does
decide to apologize and turn over a new leaf, both Marco and Beatrice
would know that he's lying and not accept it. There is now no solution
to this unfolding chaos - someone in it has a destiny, and that
destiny is to die.
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