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Arthur Miller’s ‘A View From The Bridge’ Essay

Arthur Miller was born in 1915 in New York. He was a playwright whose work discussed significant social issues, giving the reader a deep insight into his characters’ feelings. He died on February 11th 2005. In ‘A View From The Bridge’, Eddie Carbone is a middle-aged Sicilian-American longshoreman who lives with his wife Beatrice and his 18 year old niece Catherine. They live in a two bedroom apartment in a slum area. They don’t have very much money and Eddie speaks non-standard English. Early in the book the reader gets the impression that Eddie is a hard-working man who is trying to earn enough money to provide for his wife and niece.

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Although Catherine is the 18 year old niece of Eddie, at the beginning of the story the reader gets the feeling that Catherine is treated as Eddie’s little girl. Catherine was born in America with a slight Sicilian-American accent. She wants to leave school having been chosen out of many girls to be a stenographer for a plumbing company. Catherine is put in a difficult situation by Eddie because some of his actions suggest he may be sexually attracted to her, but Catherine falls in love with illegal immigrant Rodolpho. There are many dramatic mini scenes in Act 1.

In one of them Rodolpho sings in front of everyone. This causes tension between Eddie, Rodolpho, Catherine, Beatrice and Marco. Eddie says –’He’s like a chorus girl or sump’m’. Eddie is saying that Rodolpho isn’t normal and that he might be homosexual. This is very insulting and Eddie showing his dislike for Rodolpho even though he has only just met him. Eddie’s rudeness towards Rodolpho makes Catherine annoyed and Miller writes – Embarrassed now, angered, Catherine goes into the bedroom… she gives Eddie a cold look, restrained only by strangers.

The audience can see from Catherine’s face and body language that she isn’t very happy with Eddie and the tension this creates. The mini-scene continues with further tension from a disagreement between Eddie and Beatrice as they argue about Catherine. Eddie also says – ‘You mean it’s all right with you? That’s gonna be her husband? ‘ He is asking Beatrice whether she would be happy if Rodolpho married Catherine because Eddie obviously doesn’t like him. This argument makes Beatrice say –’When am I gonna be a wife again’.

Eddie and Beatrice are going through a hard time and Beatrice feels that Eddie isn’t treating her like he is supposed to. Eddie’s reaction to Beatrice’s comments is –’I can’t talk about it’. Eddie is becoming tense by Beatrice pestering him and doesn’t know how to respond to her questions. The row results in Eddie not bothering to look at or touch Beatrice. The reader can see this from Miller’s stage directions where he puts –she tries to turn him to her…he keeps his head turned away. Miller, from this stage direction, makes the reader appreciate that Eddie is annoyed.

Miller also writes –Eddie… his face puffed with trouble, and the room dies. Eddie is being very negative and this is frustrating other characters. Miller creates tension from his dialogue and from his stage directions as facial expressions they describe the characters body language. In act two Eddie’s presence on stage has a profound effect on the other characters. Miller has presented Eddie in this way through his choice of dialogue and specific stage directions. The tension between Eddie and the other characters grows after he sees Rodolpho emerge from Catherine’s room with Catherine.

Miller states – Eddie sees him and his arm jerks slightly in shock. He puts this to illustrate to the reader that Eddie is obviously quite surprised and angry. At the time Eddie is a bit drunk and he throws himself at Catherine and kisses her on the lips. Miller writes – he reaches out suddenly, draws her to him, and as she strives to free herself he kisses her on the mouth. This action could be as a result of Eddie having inappropriate feelings for her or it may be a last ditch effort to stop Catherine from leaving because he can’t accept that she isn’t his little girl anymore.

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Rodolpho shouts at him – ‘Stop that! Have respect for her! ‘ Rodolpho eventually manages to pull Eddie off her and Eddie turns round to face Rodolpho. Rodolpho then says – ‘She’ll be my wife. That is what I want my wife. My wife! ‘ The use of the exclamation marks shows the passion in Rodolpho’s voice and contributes to creating dramatic tension. This infuriates Eddie even more and he teases Rodolpho who tries to attack Eddie, but Eddie lunges towards Rodolpho and kisses him on the lips. Miller says – Rodolpho flies at him in attack. Eddie pins his arms, laughing, and suddenly kisses him.

A motive for kissing Rodolpho could be an attempt to prove to Catherine that Rodolpho is homosexual. The above stage directions in this mini scene are designed to achieve visual tension among the characters describing physical contact and body language especially that of Eddie so that the audience can fully appreciate the growing nature of his relationships with Catherine and Rodolpho. Events in act two build up to the tragic climax. In this mini scene Eddie reports Rodolpho and Marco to the Immigration Bureau who take them away and it is widely believed that Eddie was the person that reported them.

When Catherine tells Eddie that she and Rodolpho are getting married Eddie tries to make her rethink her decision. He pleads – ‘Katie, wait a minute’. But Catherine responds with – ‘No, I made up my mind. ‘ Even now, after everything that has happened before, Eddie doesn’t want Catherine to leave. Even though Eddie is against the marriage he tries to get Marco and Rodolpho out of the house before the Immigration Bureau arrive. He becomes worried and anxious. He says nervously – ‘Catherine! What’re you, got no brains? You put them up there with two other submarines? Miller also states In a driving fright and anger, to describe the way Eddie was acting.

Catherine moved Marco and Rodolpho to an apartment upstairs where Eddie knew the Immigration Bureau could find them. Eddies newly found care for Rodolpho and Marco meant that when the Immigration Bureau knocked on the door they all knew it was Eddie who had reported them. Miller writes – ‘A knock on the door. His head swerves. They all stand motionless. ‘ Eddie does what he can to make Marco and Rodolpho avoid being caught by the Immigration Bureau but it was too little too late.

Miller also puts –’Catherine stands motionless, uncomprehending…she stands a moment staring at him in realized horror. ‘ This stage direction visualises for the reader the dramatic tension, it shows that Catherine knew what Eddie had done and that she was shocked and surprised that even Eddie would report them after he had constantly told her how it was against the Sicilian Code of Honour. In this mini scene Miller skilfully via his stage directions used the lack of motion to create tension.

Eddies actions in act two are against everything that he was saying in act one and his jealousy makes him commit an unforgivable crime against his family and the Sicilian community. In act one he was telling Catherine how it is against the Sicilian Code of Honour to report an illegal immigrant under any circumstances. When Beatrice was describing a boy that once reported his uncle she said –

‘He had five brothers and the old father… and they pulled him down the stairs – three flights his head was bouncing like a coconut. At the time this play was set, late 1940s, it wasn’t acceptable to be homosexual and in act one Eddie makes it sound like being homosexual was almost as bad as breaking the Sicilian Code of Honour. Yet in act two he kisses Rodolpho. I think ‘A View From The Bridge’ is a very interesting book as it raises social issues that are still relevant today and it shows the difficult decisions a Sicilian American, such as Eddie, had to make in the late 1940s.

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Arthur Miller's 'A View From The Bridge' Essay
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Arthur Miller was born in 1915 in New York. He was a playwright whose work discussed significant social issues, giving the reader a deep insight into his characters' feelings. He died on February 11th 2005. In 'A View From The Bridge', Eddie Carbone is a middle-aged Sicilian-American longshoreman who lives with his wife Beatrice and his 18 year old niece Catherine. They live in a two bedroom apartment in a slum area. They don't have very much money and Eddie speaks non-standard English. Early in
2018-04-25 10:45:56
Arthur Miller's 'A View From The Bridge' Essay
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