‘A View from the Bridge’ is a 19th Century play, written by Arthur Miller. It is a tragic play about love, passion, lust and deceit. The play focuses on one man: Eddie Carbone. He lives with his niece, Catherine and wife, Beatrice. As the play develops, we see his changing personality due to the arrival of his wife’s cousins and an inevitable tragedy takes place. This essay aims to demonstrate Eddie’s changing relationships with other characters through language, staging and stage directions.
This play is a reflection of Arthur Miller’s own life and experiences. He used to work on the docks of Brooklyn. At that time, many migrants from Italy were coming to America in search of work. Many were illegal, and giving them away to the police would be a betrayal to the Italian Community. Which is why, betrayal is an important theme of the play. Arthur Miller used the culture of the Sicilians and his own experience to write the play, ‘A View from the Bridge’.
When we are first introduced to the characters of Eddie and Catherine, we are shown how intimate and secure their relationship seems on the surface. The introductory dialogue between the two characters is ‘Hi Eddie!’ (Eddie is pleased and therefore shy about it) Our first instinct is that they love each other. The exclamation mark shows the excitement and that Catherine is very happy to see Eddie. Moreover the stage directions reveal that Eddie is also pleased to see her, however does not want to make it observable and therefore shy about it.
though Eddie has a strong plutonic bond with his niece, he finds it difficult to show her how he feels. When he first speaks to her, saying, ‘Where you goin’ all dressed up?’ he meant it as an advice suggesting that she is dressed inappropriately and should consider wearing something else. Although, it comes out more like a scalding remark, questioning her actions and the choices that she has made. Since the beginning of the play, Catherine is strongly irritated by the way Eddie speaks to her, no matter how well he means. Catherine and Eddie also flirt with each other. (running her hands over her skirt) ‘I just got it. You like it?’ This displays that Catherine cares about Eddie’s opinion and at the same time is sort of seducing him by the stage directions. By running her hands over her skirt she is making the point even more obvious.
Nevertheless, Eddie flirts back as well, he calls her ‘beautiful’. ‘beautiful’ suggests Eddie might have sexual feelings for Catherine. Eddie is also over protective and concerned about her. Eddie questions her clothing choice and mentions her ‘walkin’ wavy’. Again, even though he is trying to look out for her the best advice he can for her own good, the manner by which he speaks it is insulting, and therefore causes Catherine’s self-assurance and confidence to destroy. Then Catherine replies ‘What do you want me to do?’ (almost in tears) This act of crying proves to us how weak and vulnerable she is. Catherine is also always buzzing around Eddie an
carries out wife-like actions. She tells him ‘I’ll get you a beer, all right?’ The language used is very interesting because it is not a question; she somehow knows that he needs a beer. This again exemplifies the level of understanding they have between each other.
When Catherine gives Eddie the news about her getting a job, Eddie is not happy. Even, still she keeps Eddie’s opinion in mind. Eddie says ‘she’ll be with a lotto plumbers and sailors up and down the street?’ This demonstrates Eddie is again overprotective and thinks the longshoremen and sailors will take advantage of her. This also conveys that he does not want her to grow her up and shows the control and influence he has on Catherine’s life. He also refers to Catherine as ‘the Madonna type’. The word ‘madonna’ implicates virginity, purity and that Eddie worships her. Catherine is a female subservient. He finally gives in for letting her have job when Beatrice confronts him, ‘are you goin’ to keep her in the house forever?’ This time Eddie is defenceless and thus lets her take the job. Even though Eddie was initially against her decision he is proud of Catherine. (He is affected by her, but smiles his emotions away) This explains Eddie is proud how she has grown up but at the same time wants to still treat her as a child.
A key turning point in Eddie’s and Catherine’s relationship is the arrival of Beatrice’s cousins: Marco and Rodolfo. When Rodolfo is introduced, Catherine’s initial comments are about his looks, (wondrously) ‘How come he’s so dark and you’re so light, Rodolfo?’ The language shows her interest in Rodolfo’s looks, furthermore the staging directions shows that she is very excited. Next (they laugh as Eddie enters.) The staging directions shows how quickly their relationship is bonding, however Eddie notices this and is jealous by the fact that Catherine is paying more attention to Rodolfo. As an upshot of this he deliberately changes the topic, ‘How’s the coffee doin’? This question is totally of the topic, he does this to drive Catherine away from Rodolfo.
Following that scene Eddie feels further need to embarrass Catherine and assert his power on her in front of Rodolfo and Marco. He disapproves Catherine wearing high heels and says ‘Do me a favour, will you? Go ahead.’ This illustrates the disrespectful manner in which Eddie speaks to her, again it can be argued as being over protective or not having respect for Catherine. It also shows us that Eddie doesn’t want other males looking at Catherine and this is also a sign of Eddie’s incestuous feelings towards his niece due to his blatant portrayal of jealousy. As a result Catherine is (embarrassed now, angered, Catherine goes out) The staging directions explains how powerless Catherine is, that she can not even defend herself. Even though, Catherine is enraged by his comments and extremely embarrassed, she somehow manages to find it in her heart to forgive him. This illustrates the strength of their relationship and their mutual understanding.
However, Eddie mocks Catherine further by telling Marco ‘All actresses they want to be
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