Compare and contrast the personalities, behaviour and attitudes of the two brothers in A View from the Bridge. To what extent is it fair to say that they exchange roles in the course of the play? In Arthur Miller’s play ‘A View from the Bridge’, Marco and Rodolfo are the two brothers who are Italian immigrants who moved illegally to the United States to find work. During the time Italy was suffering from enormous poverty, and in the play the two brothers work as longshoremen in order to earn money: however both brothers have different reasons for doing this. Marco’s plan is to make enough money to send to his wife and three children back home in Italy, who are starving. Rodolfo on the other hand has come to earn money with no prior responsibilities. He is a free agent who wants to become an American citizen.Order now
From the beginning of the play we see that Marco and Rodolfo have very different character traits and characteristics. It could be said that Marco fits the typical Italian stereotype, strong with dark hair and skin, with his main priority being his family. Rodolfo however is not, as he has blonde hair, and this shocks the characters (especially Catherine) first impressions of him when he arrives, as Catherine says wondrously, “How come he’s so dark and your so light, Rodolfo?”
A prominent characteristic of Marco that comes across from the beginning of the play is a honourable, heroic one. He gains most of the characters respect in the play as he is strong and could easily “load the whole ship by himself”, the reason for his being there also gains respect; as he left his family to give them support and save his eldest son who is “sick in the chest”. Rodolfo gains the respect of the other characters via completely different means. As a character Rodolfo is young spirited, he is a dreamer who likes to sing and make everyone laugh, and it is his good spirited nature that people (excluding Eddie) respect him for. An example is Mike’s summary of him when talking to Eddie, “Well he ain’t excakly funny, but he’s always like makin’ remarks like, y’know? He comes around, everybody’s laughin’.”
So in the play Marco is seen as a hero and Rodolfo is seen as a comedian. By the end of Act one we see a side to Marco that has not before been seen. In the play is he a relatively quiet/flat character ‘Marco don’t say much’, who puts Rodolfo right when he is not pleasing Eddie, he is the one in charge, “if he does wrong you must tell him, what does he do wrong Eddie?” Although at the end of Act one Marco’s actions lead us to the discovery of a violent side, which Marco uses to defend his honour. Marco becomes aggressive by silently threatening Eddie by lifting the chair, but his rage is driven by his duty to his family, due to Eddie making a fool out of Rodolfo in front of everybody by asking him to box, and then hurting Rodolfo.
This shows another difference between the two brothers. Rodolfo is naive about his situation, and does not realise just how much he is upsetting Eddie. Marco however does see Eddies troubles, and is very aware or the situation: by lifting the chair to Eddie, this proves that what Eddie is doing bothers him. This incident also proves that in the play Marco’s actions are stronger than his words. He is very strong, and is obviously aware of that, yet doesn’t brag about it, or show it in any way until he has to. As a final insult to Eddie by the end of the play Marco spits in Eddies face, which was at the time the ultimate insult, this is another example of Marco’s actions being stronger than his words.
For the duration of the play we see Rodolfo as an unrealistic character, ‘He dreams, he dreams’, although on page 44 we see that Rodolfo is in fact a practical, down to earth person, which is a side to Rodolfo which has not before been seen. When Catherine tests Rodolfo about moving to Italy, Rodolfo becomes realistic and seriously points out to Catherine what would be the point, just to prove a small matter to Eddie. Also his advice to Catherine about Eddie, “If I take in my hands a little bird. And she grows and wishes to fly. But I will not let her out of my hands because I love her so much, is that the right thing for me to do?” Shows that he is perceptive of the situation and is no longer seen as being so naive.
I would say that the complete exchange in roles of the two brothers in the play comes after Eddie gets them both convicted by the immigration authorities. Prior to this Rodolfo had been seen as the victim of the play, as no matter what he said or did he was never going to please Eddie: but after being turned in, Marco becomes the main victim of the play. He is the innocent one, as he has done nothing wrong to Eddie, yet he still gets arrested. In addition he gains the viewers sympathy, as he has no other choice but to go back to his hungry wife and sick children in Italy: unlike Rodolfo who will get let off by marrying Catherine.
It is at this part of the play where Rodolfo becomes the responsible brother. He is the one who tries to get Marco to see sense and agree with Alfieri in letting him out of jail, ‘Marco tell the man!’ Yet Marco’s honour to his family is at its full as he believes that what Eddie did was unforgivable, and that the breaking of such a trust is something that in his culture that must never be left unpunished. Marco believes ‘All the law is not in a book!’ Rodolfo however is willing to forgive and forget and it seems does not seem angry at all, also it is Rodolfo trying to bridge the gap between Marco and Eddie, instead of Marco doing the same for Rodolfo.
Throughout the play both characters develop and change. We see Marco turn from a fairly flat character into a rather developed character whose actions speak louder than his words. He turns from being the heroic character, to the main victim; and from the dominant brother who lectures Rodolfo, to the one who Rodolfo tries to make see sense. Rodolfo however is unsuccessful as Marco’s family honour means so much to him. We see Rodolfo turn from being a naï¿½ve dreamer, to a serious, practical character, who just wishes to please Eddie and live happily with Catherine.