A View From the Bridge Final Coursework Essay By Salman Ramjaun 10GE… How does Arthur Miller present the ideas of Manliness, Hostility and Aggression in ‘A View from the Bridge? ’ ‘A View from the Bridge’, a play written by Arthur Miller was set in Red Hook, Brooklyn in the 1950s; this area consisted of many Italian immigrants who came to Brooklyn to work. The tragic hero of the play named, Eddie Carbone is a 40 year old man, an American of a Sicilian background; He is described as “a husky, slightly overweight longshoreman. He is an ordinary man and is part of the local Italian community. He is the master of the household and both Beatrice and Catherine are undoubtedly used to him laying down the rules; Eddie sees this as a ‘macho’ thing to do and he expects all men to do the same – which is why he cannot accept Rodolfo’s gentle talents. Furthermore, conflict is demonstrated when the cousins of Beatrice, Rodolfo and Marco, arrive. As narrator, Alfieri discloses the eventual tragedy, he talks about justice and how sometimes, justice is dealt within outside the law.
He says he has a timeless story to tell – one that ran a “bloody course,” he sets the scene and introduces the characters; he is telling the audience the story of the play in flashback. Miller uses several forms of masculinity to show the audience that in different circumstances and cultures different forms of masculinity are possible. This is shown to the audience by comparing both extremes of masculinity and what they both involve. In the longshoreman culture respect is as much a part of a man as is his own image.
This leads to those members of the community going to extraordinary lengths to keep their reputation in order to stop them being emasculated in the eyes of the community. In the beginning of the play, Eddie is keen to show that he is very manly, “You call that a spider? You oughta see what comes outa the bananas sometimes. ” In the Sicilian culture this is not so true and a form of masculinity that has certain feminine qualities is shown to the audience; and this is shown as Rodolfo does not conform to Eddie’s ideas of manliness; Marco challenges him and he is threatened. A View from the Bridge’ is a modern day tragedy based around the character of Eddie who begins as a good, honest, working class longshoreman with mixed feelings towards his niece, Catherine. However, tensions flare with the arrival of his wife’s cousins, Rodolfo and Marco, both of who are illegal immigrants, brings about jealousy and anger that finally leads to Eddie’s own death. He is constantly self-interested, wanting to promote and protect his innocence. In Eddie’s world, he imagines protecting Catherine from marriage or any male relationship and wants her for himself.
Eddie constantly looks out for himself at the expense of others and is ruled by personal love and guilt. There are several moments in the text where the audience is given clues that Eddie’s love for Catherine may not be normal. For example, when Catherine lights Eddie’s cigar in the living room, it is an event that gives Eddie unusual pleasure. This possibly warm and affectionate act between Eddie and Catherine has phallic suggestions. Depending on interpretation by the characters, this moment may have more or less sexual undertones.
Eddie’s great attention to his attractive niece and impotence in his own marital relationship immediately makes this meaning clear that Eddie has feelings for Catherine. Although Eddie seems unable to understand his feelings for Catherine until the end of the play, other characters are aware. Beatrice is the first to see this possibility in her conversation with Catherine; Alfieri also realizes Eddie’s feelings during his first conversation with Eddie; Eddie does not comprehend his feelings until Beatrice clearly expresses his desires in the conclusion of the play, “You want somethin’ else, Eddie, and you can never have her! Eddie does not realise his feeling for Catherine because he has constructed and imagined a world where he can suppress his urges; Eddie transfers his energy to a hatred of Marco and Rodolfo and causes him to act completely irrationally; this affection for Catherine is Eddie’s flaw and he cannot deal with this attraction. Eddie’s wife Beatrice responds that she has other worries, in particular, Eddie’s sexual impotence; she asks, “When am I gonna be a wife again, Eddie? Beatrice and Eddie have not had a sexual relationship in three months and Eddie will not talk to Beatrice about the problem, and he only says that he is worried about Catherine. Partly because of this, she supports Catherine and encourages her to be independent. She helps Catherine persuade Eddie to let Catherine go out to work and, later, tells Catherine she must stand up for herself, “It means you gotta be your own self more. ” The arrival of Beatrice’s cousins creates the conflict between themselves and Eddie; Miller introduced other men to the household who challenge Eddie’s status.
He doesn’t trust people easily; he tells Catherine, “the less you trust, the less you be sorry”, this prepares the audience for his suspicion of Rodolfo; he tries to undermine Rodolfo. For example, he mocks Rodolfo’s skills at cooking, singing and sewing, implies he is homosexual and tells Catherine that he only wants her to gain US citizenship. Eddie will seek to discredit any rival. In Rodolfo’s case, he quickly finds a “reason” for this. Rodolfo is slightly-built, blond, a good singer and dancer, and he can cook and make dresses.
After this, Eddie abuses his trust as a wise father-figure to persuade Catherine that Rodolfo is a “hit-and-run guy” and is “only bowin’ to his passport”. Eddie tells Alfieri of Rodolfo, that “he ain’t right”, and that “you could kiss him, he was so sweet”, but Alfieri advises him that there is nothing he can do. Rodolfo is the younger brother of Marco and is Beatrice’s cousin; he is presented as a contrast to the typical longshoreman as he has platinum blond hair and so this makes an immediate impression.
Unlike Marco, he wants to stay in America and own a motorbike; he loves America and wants to find out as much about New York as possible – he is keen to see Broadway. Eddie is concerned because he buys ‘American’ items like a new jacket and records, rather than send money to Marco’s family. His unusual looks may imply to the audience that he is ‘different’ from the average Italian immigrant; the audience then find out his interests in: food/cooking, music, singing and dancing; these interests are unusual for the stereotypical dock worker; he has a good sense of humour, so he is popular.
It upsets him that Eddie seems to dislike him so much – he cannot understand why his ‘feminine’ skills are a problem for Eddie. Rodolfo’s language is lively and imaginative, which shows his intelligence. For instance, later in the play, he uses the image of Catherine as a bird in a cage; whereas Eddie employs the slang of Brooklyn. When Eddie breaks the silence, he tells Rodolfo to get out and tells him to “watch your step, submarine”; submarine is slang for an illegal immigrant. Eddie’s language shows him to be simple and uneducated.
There are moments in the text which lead to high dramatic tension. For example when Eddie kissed Rodolfo this is shocking to the audience and the characters as he is trying to humiliate Rodolfo in a variety of ways; this is ironic because Rodolfo’s natural liveliness and ‘difference’ from other men is what makes him appealing to the audience and to the other characters. The most direct challenge to Eddie is Catherine and Rodolfo’s relationship; Catherine falls in love with Rodolfo almost immediately, and he with her.
Even though Eddie tries to suggest that Rodolfo only wants to marry Catherine to become a US citizen, it is clear his love is strong and genuine “You think I would carry on my back the rest of my life a woman I didn’t love just to be an American? ”, he speaks very passionately. Eddie becomes obsessed with stopping Catherine from going out with Rodolfo; this puts a strain on their relationship but because of Sicilian values she respects his decision. Later in the play, the audience see that Eddie is getting desperate and tries to look for a way to stop the relationship between Rodolfo and Catherine.
Marco is the older brother of Rodolfo; he comes from a poor village in Sicily. In contrast Marco is a more conventional embodiment of manliness as he is a family man, honourable and serious; he feels a duty to send money back to his family. It is clear he loves his family very much as he is nearly in tears when he first talks about them to the Carbone family. He is anxious not to outstay his stay with the Carbone family; almost his first words are “I want to tell you now, Eddie – when you say we go, we go”, he is extremely polite. In many ways he fits Eddie’s expectations of manliness but he is also Rodolfo’s protector.
After Eddie has punched Rodolfo while ‘teaching’ him to box, he shows how he can lift a chair above his head with one hand. The stage directions tell the audience the chair is raised like a weapon over Eddie’s head; he is warning Eddie that he will defend Rodolfo if necessary. This shows the audience that his strength is far greater than Eddie’s and leads to conflict with Eddie. Marco is a masculine trait which is very important in Italian families; he feels a duty at the end to use the Sicilian code on Eddie because Eddie calls the Immigration Bureau on them.
He comes to see Eddie at the end to do what he sees as his duty, even when Alfieri had warned him that only God makes justice; he kills Eddie. Manliness, hostility and aggression are very important throughout ‘A View from the Bridge’. The play clearly shows how manliness can easily lead to hostility and progress to aggression. Eddie finds it difficult to understand and even express his feelings and this often leads to hostility and aggression. Arthur Miller’s views on manliness are a strong, flawless and a family man and these traits are perhaps mixed throughout the characters.
The character of Alfieri can be seen as a voice for Miller’s views. Marco’s view on manliness is that he is a family man; Rodolfo is that he is vain and has feminine qualities; Eddie is that he is overprotective of his family. None of these characters seem the perfect embodiment of manliness – each is flawed. It may he Miller is saying you can’t find a perfect model of manliness. These points make this a compelling play as the backgrounds of the characters have a tough life which make them strong minded. By Salman Ramjaun.