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 play "A view from the Bridge" by Arthur Miller is based on a real
Brooklyn community in New York, which is largely about Italian
immigrants in USA in the 1940s/50s. The overall story line is very
true to life as many immigrants were entering America illegally and
this still happens today in America and in other countries like United
Kingdom. Immigrants were forced to hide and keep quiet because if they
were discovered they would be deported back to their original country.
This sets up the story for the play. Most or nearly all the play is
based on two illegal immigrants, Marco and Rodolpho who are hiding
with their cousin, Beatrice, and her family consisting of her husband,
Eddie and their niece, Catherine. The illegal immigrants change the
family's life due to Marco and Rodolpho attitudes and how they are
which changes everything in the household.

The main character of this would be Eddie Carbone, who represents an
everyman, who has his part in the community and does some good and
does some wrong. The play is linked to a tradition of plays like this
one, for insistences in Shakespeare's plays there is always tragidies
and have characters that do wrong. Plays like Shakespeare have many
dukes, kings and queens; kings sometimes get killed, due to others
getting jealous. Arthur Miller wished to write 'a modern Greek
tragedy´ it is likely that the symbolism of the dagger is Eddie's
sexuality, which drove him to his drastic actions and eventually
death. This modern type of western drama originated from ancient Greek
tragedies of the 5th century BC. In these plays there was a
protagonist who did something wrong, sometimes without releasing it.
The protagonist would suffer and often die, in order to satisfy the
gods and re-establish order.

Actions speak louder than words, this is shown in many cases in the
play and is purposely done by Miller. Many events don't have as much
verbal effect, but many events have such an impact just through

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action. For instance Eddie thinks that Rodolpho is gay, "Eddie: he
sings, he cooks, he could make dresses…. what do you say, Marco, we go
to the bouts next Saturday night. You never seen a fight, did you?

Marco: only in moving pictures.

Eddie: you ever do any boxing?

Rodolpho: No

Eddie: well come on, ill teach you

Rodolpho: well I don't know how to

Eddie: ……..dont pity me, come on, throw it."

Rodolpho punches, Eddie takes it in, but then its Eddie's turn,
"Eddie: I'm going to hit you now, so you block me, see? [He feints
with his with his left and lands with his right]" His punch hits
Rodolpho, not enough to do damage, but enough to stagger and make him
feel dizzy. This was Eddie's plan, to get back at Rodolpho for dancing
and liking his niece Catherine. This is where the action shows much
more of a dramatic effect and force, Marco doesn't really say much but
"Marco: can you lift this chair?

Eddie: what do you mean?

Marco: from here" Marco bends down on one knee with one hand behind is
back and picks up a chair from the bottom of one leg. This is posed as
a threat at Eddie, he didn't say anything, nothing harmless, but the
action was very meaningful. Eddie has a go and can barely lift it,
only by an inch and then it falls over to the floor. Marco has a go,
slowly lifting higher and higher, until it gets on top of Eddie's
head. This is a big threat even though it seems fun and nothing much
to pick up on. Eddie's grin vanishes and Marco puts on a smile of
triumph but of warming too. This symbolises a fight yet to come. But
this first fight is started because of when Rodolpho's discussions
were taking place that he had talents of cooking and could make
dresses, Eddie in anger screwed up his newspaper and then ripped it,
further more showing his increasing suspicions about Rodolpho. This is
the gradual tension building up and comes to a head at the end of the
act with all on stage along with the audience watching Marco threaten
Eddie with holding a chair above his head with one hand. The end
scene, in which Eddie takes his own life with his own knife, is
symbolic of the self-destructive nature that led to such an ending.
This is the perfect explain of action is louder than language, the
amount of pressure on Eddie after that big impact threat is huge. As
his love for his niece gets stronger and stronger he is getting even
more desperate to get her even though it is his own niece.

Eddie Carbone is a representative of his class, background and
society. This does not mean that Miller thinks that all middle-aged
uncles fall in love with their nieces. Instead, he is suggesting that
we all have basic impulses and instincts that civilization and the
rules of society make us keep hidden. Eddie is not able to hide his
impulses or he either doesn't want to or cant and this causes problems
for his family and community.

The whole of this play involves symbolism, on many different levels.
Rodolpho danced with Catherine when she had previously been attending
to Eddie, symbolic of him taking her from Eddie's life. This is
another reason that drives Eddie to change and get obsessed and
possessive with Catherine. He love is different, not family love but
relationship love and it grows throughout the play.

Another case where action is just as important language is when Eddie
gets even more desperate, he becomes obsessed with Rodolpho's
sexuality and unsuitability for Catherine and repeatedly refers to
what he regards as proof of this, for example his 'blond hair´, the
laughter of his friends, and his singing. He truly believes that
Rodolpho is gay, and states it almost outright several times, 'that
guy ain't right´ and he's 'so pretty you could kiss him´! But because
of his language he cannot express fully how he wants to, he has to say
he "ain't right", but this meeting where he is telling Alfieri all
this, Alfieri knows that there is no law about this and is telling
Eddie to just leave it. Eddie cannot believe it and turns to even more
desperate measures and kisses Catherine, which is meant to humiliate
Rodolpho showing that Catherine is his, and no-one is going to take
her away from him. He then kisses Rodolpho to embarrass him showing he
is gay and to show Catherine he thinks he is gay. However this doest
not work and stuns the audience because they cannot believe Eddie has
done it, and even though he has, it hasn't worked to split Rodolpho
and Catherine up.

What makes this play very symbolic is that how Eddie warned and told
his family about the story of Vinne Bolzano and how he 'grassed' up
his uncle for staying illegally in the country, well Eddie does the
same onto Marco and Rodolpho. Eddie turns very desperate and then does
this, then later realises what he has done. Marco then spits on his
face knowing that it was him who told the immigration officers. By
then the whole community is out, and when hearing this off Marco, they
look stunned at Eddie, they didn't say anything but their actions
showed what they thought of Eddie. Eddie had known this community for
many years, and they just look at him and walk away, disgusted, even
his best friends, Louis and Mike just look at him and walk away,
nobody says anything, but the action of them just walking away what
they think of Eddie completely changes. Eddie feels that Marco has
taken his name, his good name, and he wants it back, but Marco wants
revenge, revenge for Eddie telling the immigration officers. This end
scene is very symbolic; Eddie is killed with his own knife. He hasn't
commited suicide but in ways he made it happen as he told the
immigration office about Marco and Rodolpho. Alfieri is there
watching, and knows it is best to "settle for half." Much of the play
explorers the contrast between old Sicilian justice and modern
American law. Macro thinks he is doing justice by killing Eddie,
however is this right and should it be done? Should matters like this
be settled with law like Alferi's was trying to do and advise Eddie to
leave things alone.

Therefore it seems natural to reason that Miller intended the title of
the play to have some significance other than the geography of the
location. The most obvious interpretation is of the audience sharing
with Alfieri an unbiased overview of the unfolding of events. It is
like being able to see from a bridge over a river, our vision
uncluttered by opinions as it would be by the side of the river, or
perhaps even as part of the river. Though, even Alfieri is not
completely removed from the happenings of the play, he takes an active
part in the play as well as providing the 'chorus´ character of the
Greek format that Miller used. He is part of the American culture, but
also part of the Italian culture, he also knew the family "I had
represented his father in an accident case some years before, and I
was acquainted with the family in a casual way." This is why he is
able to give a balanced opinion and to counsel Eddie (though his
advice is not understood or not taken in by Eddie). On the bridge we
have time to form opinions, to judge other people, to 'settle for
half´. There are other journeys between extremes that could be the
'bridge´ of the play, e.g. Eddie's transformation into a character
like the Vinnie Bolzano he described previously. Eddie's unavoidable
crossing from a happy family circumstance into the situation that
Alfieri predicted "You won't have a friend in the world...Put it out
of your mind". As Eddie changes in character and his desperation
increases his view of the events unfolding is warped. However, I
personally feel that the most likely reason for Arthur Miller's naming
of the play as "A View from the Bridge" is the obvious metaphor of the
audience's perspective. How the audience see what is happening, even
though it is just the actions happening, not language, sometimes
nothing is said, just the action and the way people react and the
audience is in on it all the time.
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