Examine the ideas of manliness, hostility and aggression in “a view from the bridge” how are these ideas connected? A view from the bridge was written by Arthur Miller and set in the 1950’s in a slum area in Brooklyn. A view from the bridge is a tragedy, it has two themes these are justice and law, it also makes important social and political comments reflecting millers belief in communism. Eddie the main character has a very particular view of what it means to be a man these include protecting his family and being respected in society.
When other characters do not conform to his ideas of manliness as in the case of Rodolpho it leads to conflict. Conflict also results when Marco (Rodolphos brother) does demonstrate conventionally “masculine’ characteristics in such s way as to make Eddie feel threatened. Every Greek tragedy has a chorus and a tragic flaw. A Chorus is a group or a single person in this case it is a lawyer called Alfieri and a tragic flaw is something bad that is happening the tragic flaw in this case is Eddies love for Catherine. Eddie has very particular views about what it means to be a man.
He believes that being a man means being strong and respected, looking after your family and bringing in food and money! There is an image of a triangle with Eddie at the top as the patriarchal and Catherine and Beatrice at the bottom as equal! This leads to a small scale of conflict with Catherine (Eddies niece). Catherine’s parents died so Eddie has been looking after her. Catherine has a lot of respect for Eddie and he likes this because it makes him feel manly he does not want her to grow up as he is afraid of losing her and her respect.
In the play this leads to conflict as by the end of the play Catherine starts to have more respect for Rodolpho. Eddie says of Rodolpho “the guy anit right”, “the guy is no good” he is saying this because he is unsure of Rodolopho. When he first saw Rodolpho he saw his blond hair and this was not thought of as manly. Then Rodolpho starts to sing “Paper doll” this starts to tell us about Rodolphos life in Italy, “its tough to love a doll that’s not your own” suggests that’ back there he might have been a bit of a “ladies man”.
Another line of the song “he trusts his wife” this tells me that although Marco trusts his wife Rodolpho thinks that she will be unfaithful because she is across the world from him. Rodolpho is probably speaking from experience. The next line of paper doll, “I’m through with all of them, ill never fall again” suggests that Rodolpho has turned over a new leaf and is ready to’ and wants to make a fresh start. So he is going to “buy a paper doll that he can call his own” he is of course referring to Catherine.
It becomes most evident that Catherine and Rodolho like each other when Catherine offers him some sugar and he says “sugar? Yes! I like sugar very much” if you take this literally, Catherine is in fact offering Rodolpho sugar for his coffee, but colloquially giving someone sugar means giving someone some love. By this point Eddie does not like this. Rodolpho is singing about feminine men “… with there flirty flirty eyes” he also tells them that he cook and also make dresses, Eddie now has more reasons to dislike Rodolpho. Eddie is totally against this because it goes against his society norms.
In fact, he suspects Rodolpho himself is gay. On the other hand Marco, Rodophos brother does match up to Eddies idea of what it takes to be a man to the point where Eddie starts to fell threatened. Eddie is now not the only man in the house, as Marco has become more powerful. Being a man comes naturally to Marco. A part of the play to support this is when Eddie suggests going boxing. He chooses boxing is it is a very powerful sport and you have to be very strong and manly to play it. He tries to teach Rodopho and he is very good and then Eddie hits him.
Eddie take son the role of being Rodolphos teacher he hits Rodolphos while he is “teaching” him boxing Marco takes this as a threat and has his suspicions about the punch Marco then stands up for his brother. He is teaching Eddie a lesson trying to make a statement that he is more of a man than him he asks Eddie to pick up a chair from the bottom, Eddie finds this hard and is quite embarressed by this as Marco can do this easily. He is now the dominate male he is the stronger one this may be seen as a physical threat this is where Eddie begins to lose his position and maybe challenge his manliness.
Alfieri has a role as a character but also as a narrator commenting on the action and foretelling the final tragedy. Alfieri is thoughtful, well educated, and distanced man who seems to look for the best in everyone. His last speech at the end shows us that he has respect for Eddie. Although he knows that Eddie was wrong he feels that the loss of something true has died as Eddie lived for what he believed, he didn’t settle for half he was his own person, pure and true in that he died for what he believed.
He says “something pure process me from his memory” that Eddie was willing for people to know what he felt, he believed in his love Catherine he did not see this as wrong he saw it as pure love. Eddie is the tragic hero although we see it, as wrong he did what he thought was right. Alfieri says, “I will love Eddie more than all my sensible clients” he confesses that it is better to settle for half because what happened was wrong. This is where it links to law and justice because Morally Eddie was wrong but legally he was not I think that Alfieri felt he had a connection with Eddie as he knew the whole story.
Near to the end of the play Catherine turns from the innocent child to the voice of society. This makes her more mature and adult like and she starts to speak the voice of society Catherine tells Beatrice to grow up. The triangle from the beginning changes and Catherine now rises to the top and Eddie goes down to the bottom where Catherine was. Catherine is now the matriarch Eddie does not like this as she has grown up, she has got her own mind and does not look up to him anymore! The play is very dramatic and has bits that surprise the audience; an example of this is where Eddie kisses Catherine and then Rodolpho.
This is surprising as it is not expected, kissing Eddie is not very manly and Eddie has very strong belief’s of what it takes to be man the play is a tragedy. Miller was heavily influenced by this tradition of play writing from Greek tragedy to the Norwegian henrik Ibsen. The important social and political comments reflecting millers belief in communism. I think that Eddie. Marco and Rodolpho all have very many different qualities. Eddie – caring in his own kind of way, likes to be in control and very protective. Marco – strong and caring, very manly and also is protective and trustworthy.
Rodolpho – funny and entertaining’ perhaps a bit of a ladies man! The link between manliness, hostility and aggression are used in the play as Eddie uses aggression to show his manliness, as he is not very well educated and he finds it very difficult to share, understand or express his feelings. So he often responds to them with threatening situations with verbal or physical aggression. I think that miller has the same views as Eddie about masculinity and has put them into Eddie characters as a way of expressing his feelings. By the end of the play I did fell sorry for Eddie but also I respected him as he died for what he believed!