A View from the Bridge by Arthur Miller

The play A View from the Bridge, written by famous American writer Arthur Miller, presents the story of an Italian –American immigrant; Eddie Carbone living in the Red Hook of Brooklyn, near New York. Like William Shakespeare, Arthur Miller tries to catch the attention of the audience at the very beginning itself. In the first Act the dramatist introduces the lawyer who tells the story. Like Classical plays, Miller pictures the opening act with the support of chorus. The lawyer, Alfieri narrates the story of Eddie Carbine, the hero of the play. The end of the Act one is particularly notable for the conflicts between the characters and a lot of changes. This act is also notable for the hidden feelings, passion, hate, desire, and disagreement between the relationship of the central character and the other characters.

The protagonist of Miller’s,” A view from the Bridge “is a dock worker who lives with his wife, Beatrice and her cousin, Catherine. After the death of her mother, Beatrice took charge of Catherine when she was a small girl. Now she is a young girl and it makes disturbances in Eddie’s life. The arrival of Beatrice‘s cousins is a turning point in the play. Miller very effectively connects the events. The relation between Catherine and Rodolfo, who is the cousin of Beatrice, makes irritation in Eddie’s mind. He has also been spending much time with Catherine. The dramatist successfully presents the mental crises of middle class Americans. Here Eddie is more conscious about Catherine. He forgets his status and responsibilities. He is intoxicated with the presence of Catherine. His sincere devotion and passion to her destroys his honour and social status. He loves her blindly and this blind love causes problems later in their life. Miller’s hero is not a representative of a particular nation or a group, he is an ordinary person.

Once, he is even ready to inform the authorities about the cousins. Eddie has enough awareness about his actions. He even admits his friend’s advice, “there are some kinds of love that must not grow”. At the end of the first act Eddie is ready to attack the three young cousins. He tries to humiliate Rodolfo and at last emotively fails to bring out the kitchen chair. The dramatist tries to expose his extreme craftsmanship in presenting the last scenes of the first Act. Eddie abuses his trust as a wise father-figure to persuade Catherine that Rodolpho is a convict and he is under observation. Miller catches the mind of the audience through the end of the first Act. The audience keeps the anxiety to watch the second Act. The clash between Eddie and Rudolpho provides a kind of suspense. The behavioral changes of the characters are another important thing in this play. For example the character of Marco was more respect to Eddie before getting a shelter. But after he begins question to Eddie. Based on classical principles Eddie is the protagonist of the play. He is the representative of a middle class American. At first the audience receives him as a good person who has some dignity. He loves his wife very much and treats the family very well. Catherine Carbone is considered as the heroin of the play. She is a sweet attractive young girl who led the play. With the help of her nice behavior she catches the attention of the audience. Miller pictured her strong female character that has strong mind and personality. Another major female character is Beatrice Carbone, Eddie’s wife. Throughout the play Miller presents her as a strong and gentle woman who is loyal to her husband. One can see the sparkling motherhood and gentleness. Her motherly attitude towards Catherine comes out when she knows her husband is in love with Catherine. Rodolpho and Marco are the cousins of Beatrice from Italy. Their major intention is acquiring American citizenship.

Rodolpho regards Eddie as an opponent, having enough qualities and is ready to marry Catherine for his exact purpose. His love is cons iced for some purposes. Marco has the same purpose; he is also seeking American citizenship. Marco is a hot tempered man. At the end of the first Act he challenges Eddie to take the chair. He is a man completely loyal to his family. He has no other choice except to go back to his hungry wife and sick children in Italy. Eddie handles him as his enemy and at the end of the play he kills Eddie for his own self defense.

Through the play, Miller pictures the socio-economic and political crises affected in post war Europe.

Rodolpho and Marco are the victims of the war depression. They were still suffering from Europe’s broken economy. Many people from Italy became immigrants during the time of post war in England. Rodolpho loves Catherine, but his real intention is to earn American citizenship. Both of them are suffering from severe financial problems. Therefore both are forced to be immigrants in America. Miller expresses American’s attitude towards immigrants through the play. Americans are not conscious enough about immigrants because America follows the policy of race assimilation. Rodolpho and Marco intend to seek American citizenship when the circumstances are suitable. Eddie has a positive attitude towards his wife’s cousins. A chance to make money exists in America in post war period. Both Rodolpho and Marco reach in America illegally. But they are not conscious about American laws. After realizing the relation between Rudolph and Catherine Eddie becomes frustrated. Both of them are working in docks. Eddie tries to disgrace his opponent; firstly, he informs Catherine that Rodolpho is not serious. Then he complains that Rodolpho is homosexual. Eddie’s worse response is expressesed through his repetition. He says about his rival: “He sings, he cooks, he could make dresses…I can’t cook, I can’t sing, I can’t make dresses, so I’m on the water front. But if I could cook, if I could sing, if I could make dresses, I wouldn’t be on the water front.” (Moore, 2000). He finds a kind of mental satisfaction and also reveals his disability to win the young generation. Arthur Miller uses the language devices which mingle both the languages of Italian and Sicilian immigrants and the English language. Eddie never uses his own language. He speaks a native slang. Alfire, the lawyer speaks the natural English. Catherine uses a standard form of language, but not fully. Rudolpho uses highly decorative language. Sometimes he uses some poetic comparisons like “little bird”.

Many symbolisms also have been used in the play. The dancing, the chair as a weapon, Eddie’s dying by his own hand etc. are symbolical. These symbolisms effectively blend with the play. The dancing becomes symbolical as it is performed purposefully before Eddie to make him angry. Symbolism can be found even in the title of the play, “The View from the Bridge,” the play speaks about a panoramic view, through the eyes of Alfieri. These symbolisms make the play really enjoyable.

The language – used by Eddie and the two cousins at the time of challenging – is filled with many allegorical phrases. A viewer can easily find out many layers of meaning. Eddie reveals his inferior feelings through his speech. Miller successfully practices various dramatic techniques. The dramatist presents the character of Alfieri as a narrator. Important events are presented episode by episode through the narration of Alfieri. Miller uses a simple and a colorful language that helps to increase the beauty of the play. The play follows a simple structure. Miller divides the play into two Acts. The first Act deals with Eddie’s realization and in the second, one can see his efforts to regain his lost name. The interludes and narrations are really helpful for the reader.

References

  1. Moore, Andrew. (2000). Studying Arthur Miller’s a view from the bridge: Eddie Carbone, a representative type. AM.