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‘ “A View from the Bridge” is a play set firmly in an immigrant culture, ruled by its own laws.’ How important are the Sicilian codes of conduct and honour to the development of the play?

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Introduction

' "A View from the Bridge" is a play set firmly in an immigrant culture, ruled by its own laws.' How important are the Sicilian codes of conduct and honour to the development of the play? The Sicilian codes of conduct and honour contribute in a major way to the development of Arthur Miller's play "A View from the Bridge". The Sicilian codes in Red Hook, the area where the play is set, were brought from Italy by the many Italian immigrants settled in the community. The Sicilian codes are the same thing as the Old World values; they are a set of principles that Sicilian and Italian people live by. However, there are some New World values creeping into the community from the younger generations brought up in America, which is the cause of most of the conflict in the play - New World versus Old World values. The New World values are the laws and justice in courts rather than in the streets. There are many parts to both sets of values but, in the case of the Sicilian codes, they are all based upon honour and respect. One of the most important strands of the Sicilian codes is that of not betraying your family in any way. 'the family had an uncle they were hidin' in the house, and he snitched to the immigration...they grabbed him in the kitchen and pulled him down the stairs - three flights his head was bouncing like a coconut. ...read more.

Middle

This is an Old World view of women, whereas Rodolfo, as part of the next generation, shows he feels for Catherine as a person not just wants her for property by saying 'you are not a horse, a gift, a favour for a poor immigrant'. Rodolfo has subscribed to a more modern way of viewing women compared to Eddie's view that women are property to be dominated. Eddie tries to use honour as an excuse for his reactions to Rodolfo, by saying and even thinking that he is just protecting Catherine, as any self-respecting father or uncle would, from a man who is obviously wrong for her. This is the front that he puts on, or maybe believes in, to his family. He says things like, 'He don't respect you', 'I mean if you close the paper fast - you could blow him over' and 'And with that wacky hair; he's like a chorus girl or sump'm'. Eddie uses anything he can to make Rodolfo seem unfit for Catherine, and takes great pains to try to prove he is homosexual, because he is not only making Catherine happier than Eddie can, but he is less of a macho, old world, "manly" man so Eddie thinks there must be something wrong with him and twists everything about him. The way that Eddie feels about Rodolfo doing things like cooking and singing show another contrast between Old and New world values. ...read more.

Conclusion

'EDDIE springs a knife into his hand'. This is against Old World values because it was hidden upon his person and he promised to fight Marco hand-to-hand and it is turning away from the law because it is illegal to fight with knives. This shows how desperate Eddie has become that he no longer has any set of values to live by and it is ironic that this brings about his downfall. Eddie's obsession with Catherine has led to multiple betrayals. Alfieri's views, as the most intelligent character in the play, can probably be viewed as the ideas of Arthur Miller himself. Alfieri, throughout the play, acts as a metaphorical bridge between the Old and the New World values having lived through the transition period and knowing each well. As a lawyer, the audience often views him as a believer in the New World values, although he understands what is important to his community and their morals. At the end of the play, Alfieri decides that he prefers the New World values when he says, 'we settle for half and I like it better'. This is offered as the message of the play through Alfieri's lips, because the Old World values are shown to destroy lives; Eddie dies, Beatrice is left alone and forlorn, Marco is sent home in disgrace. Arthur Miller has shown the audience that it is indeed better to compromise by good use of conflict between the two sets of values to develop his play well. ...read more.

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