After reading Arthur Miller’s play “A view from the bridge,” I am convinced that the most striking character is Marco.
He is an Italian immigrant that moved illegally to the United States with his brother Rodolpho to work as longshoreman, since at the time (the play was written in 1955) his country of origin, Italy, was going through a major economic depression because of the outcome of World War II. In the play, we are told that Marco’s plan is to make enough money to survive and be able to send some of that money to his wife and his three kids back in Italy, who are starving. Marco physically resembles the Sicilian stereotype, with dark skin and dark hair. He is also very strong and he could easily “load the whole ship by himself. “(pg.541)
In this play, the author uses plot, dialog, actions and symbolism to emphasize Marco’s honor which, in my opinion, is his prominent characteristic. Throughout the play, we can clearly see that the plot helps us develop Marco’s character in our imagination. For example, he is an illegal alien, and this might give the reader a less honorable view of him, and it might justify Eddie’s action. But the fact that Marco left his family to give them support and to save his oldest son who is “sick in the chest,” (pg. 535) makes the reader forget about his illegal stay and makes his status rise to the one of a hero.
In this play, Marco’s actions lead us to the discovery of a violent side which he uses to defend his honor in a number of occasions. For example, when he challenges Eddie to lift the chair at the end of the first act, we understand that he did it to save his brother’s face and his family’s honor. In addition, the killing of Eddie by Marco’s own hands at the end of the play, is the final display of his character. Marco’s character is definitely expressed more by his actions than by his words.
He is very strong, and he is obviously aware of that, but doesn’t like to show it in words, or brag about it. In fact, when Eddie was making fun of his brother Rodolpho, instead of replying to him in words, he chose to use his strength to get his point across by lifting the chair. In addition, Marco doesn’t talk about his family much; instead, he works as hard as he can, and that is enough to show everybody how much he cares about them. As a final insult to Eddie, Marco chooses to spit in his face in front of everybody. This is because in the Italian culture, that act is considered as an extreme expression of anger toward a person, and it is rarely left without punishment. In addition, the action of going to the church before facing Eddie shows us that he is very religious and cares about his soul.
Marco is a very honorable man and believes in his tradition, and the author shows us that through a number of symbols. For example, spitting on Eddie’s face once he realizes that Eddie turned him and his brother to the police is a symbol of disgust and revolt for Eddie’s actions. In addition, at the end of the play, we are told that Marco went to church before going to talk to Eddie. This action tells us that Marco is ready to give up his life and commit a mortal sin to defend his honor, because what Eddie has done, the breaking of the “omerta'”, the breaking of trust, is something that in his culture must never be left unpunished. Throughout the first act of the play, Marco is only referred as a flat character and the only time we are really aware his persona and his strength is at the end of the first act, when he lifts a chair over his head and makes it seem like a challenge to Eddie, as a response for mocking Rodolpho.
But only in the second act his character is fully exposed and we see his image transform into a round character. In this play, Marco is portrayed as the victim, since he hasn’t done anything to Eddie but he still gets arrested. In addition, although his brother Rodolpho gets away with it by marrying Catherine, he has no other choice but to go back to his hungry wife and sick children in Italy. This thoughts, and knowing that Eddie has no regrets for what he has done makes him furious, and at the end of the play he seeks revenge. I belive this play would not be complete without this character.
If Marco would have not existed, it would have left Eddie unpunished and alive, and this would be in conflict with the very conception of drama which drives this works.