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Essay: ‘A View from the Bridge’ by Arthur Miller

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  • Subject area(s): Literature essays
  • Reading time: 5 minutes
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  • Published: 30 September 2015*
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  • Words: 1,315 (approx)
  • Number of pages: 6 (approx)

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In the play ‘A View from the Bridge’ written by Arthur Miller, the character of Eddie Carbone changes drastically, due to a number of events occurring.

Throughout the play, Eddie becomes less and less of a strong alpha-male, who is in control of the members of his family. Firstly, at the start of the play the audience gets the idea that Eddie is a strong man, as he works in a tough neighborhood and in the docks moving crates. This makes his character appear as the most powerful person in the play, this opinion is then lost as Beatrice shows that he is not in control his sexual life at home. When Beatrice says:

‘When am I gonna be a wife again, Eddie’? It’s almost three months you don’t feel good: they’re only here a couple of weeks.’

This gives the audience the impression that Eddie has only been half the man he expressed himself as, and he cannot even love his wife like a husband should. It also shows his character as one who is a liar as he said that his word meant everything to him, but then he goes on to lie straight to his wife.

Secondly, Eddie’s persona also becomes weaker, when him and Marco both go head to head to see who is the true alpha-male. Arthur Miller shows this by writing:

”raises the chair higher and higher’ / ‘Marco raises the chair over his head’ / ‘the chair raised like a weapon over Eddie’s head’

When Marco raises the chair high above Eddie’s head, one handedly, it changes the balance of power between Eddie and Marco, more towards Marco as Eddie shows immense signs of weakness. It also shows that Eddie is not as strong as perceived as all he could when faced by a threat can do nothing but watch on. This in turn shows that two of the main aspects of a traditional Italian man are not present in Eddie, making the audience wonder if he still has control.

Thirdly, the audience can tell that Eddie is no longer a dominant man, as he looses his self-respect, by sexually assaulting Catherine and kissing Rodolfo on his lips. This makes him appear as a very weak man who doesn’t possess the capability of controlling a situation that annoys him, in a way that is reasonable. Eddie’s respect from the society is also shattered as he sends in a complaint to the immigration bureau about Marco and Rodolfo, which is epitome of a coward who has broken all the rules of Italian society. So his self respect and his reputation in the society are destroyed, leaving only one way out for a proud man like Eddie, which is to accept the fact that he is no longer an alpha-male and to try to return everything to the way it should be.

Eddie’s character at the start of the play is one which has strong feelings and beliefs towards honor, respect and reputation. Evidence of this is in Act 1 page 14, when Eddie discusses the event when Vinny Bolzano snitched on his uncle. This is emphasized when he says:

‘On his own uncle!’ He was crazy after, I tell you that, boy / How’s he gonna show his face / you can quicker get back a million dollars that was stolen than a word that you gave away. ‘

These lines present Eddie’s character as one who is very passionate in keeping the strong Italian culture within the society that he lives in, as he shouts out the sentences as though in disbelief of what Vinny had done. From reading the line, the readers get the idea that Eddie feels strongly towards respect, as it seems as though he emphasizes the word ‘uncle’, which shows how close the family was to each other and thus emphasizes the scale of betrayal. The lines also present Eddie to be committed to keeping reputation, because the act of snitching to Eddie seems like an act of mental incapability, and thus shows that Vinny has lost his respect and reputation in the society. Eddie also believes that his word is more valuable and precious than that of his money, which most people in his society would kill for.

By the end of the play Eddie’s honor, respect and reputation, are not as strong, this is shown as he begs for his respect and honor from a number of characters including Beatrice and Alfieri. This includes when he says:

‘I want my respect!’ Wipin’ the neighborhood with my name like a dirty rag! I want my name / I want my name! He didn’t take my name’

These lines show the audience that Eddie is trying his hardest to not appear as a coward to his family and community, and by trying to do so is just adding fuel to the fire by driving his respect into the ground. In addition to that the way that he is emphasizing the fact that Marco is the one who stripped him of his reputation makes him seem weak as he couldn’t protect it form Marco.

Another aspect of Eddie’s character which changes throughout the play is the way in which he shows his love and desire towards Catherine. In the beginning of the play Eddie shows his love for her in a manner that seems father-like and protective. This is shown when he tells her:

‘Katie, I promised your mother on her death-bed. I’m responsible for you. You’re a baby, you don’t understand these things.’

This shows Eddie’s character as one who truly wants the best for Catherine, and is willing to provide all the support he can to ensure that she is raised well. By saying ‘I promised your mother’, he is essentially confessing to Catherine that he is always going to be there for her, as he takes his word very seriously. Also the fact that Eddie says that he is responsible for her gives the audience the sense that Eddie possesses the love of father towards a daughter, and to add to that he goes on to say that she is a baby, which implies that he thinks of her as a daughter. Eddie also goes on to show that he is a guardian over her and is the dominant alpha- male who knows what is best for her.

As the play progresses, the audiences view of Eddies feelings towards Catherine is obscured as on a number of events it does not appear that Eddie is still feeling for Catherine as a father, but more like a lover. This is shown when Eddie says on page 35:

”puts his filthy hands on her like a god dam thief’ he’s stealing from me! / I took out of my wife’s mouth / it’s breakin’ my heart, y’know’

By saying that Rodolfo is acting like a thief by stealing Catherine, it presents him as too defensive and that he is disappointed in the fact that he no longer has complete control over Catherine. It also expresses his feeling to her in a materialistic way, that he loves her like a property, as oppose to through passion. The audience also gets the sense that Eddie’s love and desire of Catherine is now one of lust as he is caring for her more than his wife. This gives the audience the sense that he has always been in love with Catherine more than Beatrice, and that he was using being an uncle as a disguise for his true feelings. Eddie also says ‘it’s breaking my heart’ which is a phrase used for when someone is in total disintegration, this would only happen in a situation where a couple separate and there was as strong connection between them that it ran through their blood.

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