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A View From the Bridge

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Introduction

Did the Code of Omerta lead to the tragedy in 'A View from the Bridge?' The play is set in the 1930's in New York in a slum area called Red Hook. We can predict this because the temporal setting is between the 1920's and the outbreak of the war but as the war is not mentioned the setting must be late 1930's. It is about a family of Italian immigrants who host two illegal immigrants who are brothers. Eddie and Beatrice have but up Catherine since she was a baby and she is now seventeen. The play is about the changing relationships between these characters and the effect the brothers have on these relationships. The bridge mentioned in the title has many levels of meaning. First, it has literal meaning as it is a real bridge; Brooklyn Bridge in New York and it joins Manhattan to Brooklyn and Red Hook which is "is the slum that faces the bay on the seaward side of Brooklyn Bridge." And it is also "the gullet of New York swallowing the tonnage of the world." It also has a metaphorical meaning as it represents the crossing between the 'old world' (Europe) and the 'new world' (America). Legal immigrants 'come over the bridge'; illegal immigrants come under the bridge' in submarines. A symbolic meaning would be a rite of passage for Catherine as she goes through adolescence from 'baby' to 'young women'. There is also an inferential meaning as the 'bridge' connects two cultures; the Americans from Manhattan and their laws to the immigrants in Brooklyn and Red Hook with their traditions and codes of behaviour. Yet another symbolic denotation is that the Narrator, Alfieri, is also a 'bridge' attempting to unite the American laws with the Italian culture practices. He has the same vantage point as someone looking from the bridge as he is a well-educated man who respects American law but is still loyal to Italian customs. ...read more.

Middle

Alfieri's other role in the play is that of one of the only lawyers in Red Hook but is also an Italian-American who respects his roots and the culture of the community. Eddie sees Alfieri as priest as he discusses private matters with him and even shows some of his emotions only to Alfieri. Due to this Alfieri has a dramatic role of giving us an inside view of Eddie's world and a bit of what goes on inside Eddie's head. In the play Alfieri tries to explain the American law to Eddie when Eddie is accusing Rodolpho of not 'being right', he tells Eddie, "There's only one legal question here." The 'legal question' he is referring to is that of the brothers being illegal immigrants. However, after he says this Eddie gets defensive and says he "wouldn't do nothin' about that," this suggests as this point Eddie is not falling apart but at the end he ironically does the exact opposite. When Eddie then tries and tells Alfieri that "the guy aint right" Alfieri rightly tells him that he "can only deal with what's provable" this shows that Alfieri prefers the law to 'justice'. He thinks that people allow their personal feelings to affect the idea of justice and therefore cannot execute true justice. This leads him to saying, "You hear? Only god makes justice." This is true as Eddie's idea of justice was affected by his desires for Catherine. Alfieri relies on the law because it gives an objective view from both sides. Alfieri senses what Eddie is going to do and although he does not stop him he warns him: "You won't have a friend in the world." he is telling Eddie that if he 'snitches' to the authorities he will have no respect and the community will reject him like they did to Vinny. He then continues and says, "I'm warning you - the law is nature. ...read more.

Conclusion

He reveals the illegal immigrants because he knows that he cannot do anything about Catherine so resorts to getting rid of Rodolpho in a desperate attempt to keep Catherine. This does not work as they decide to get married and therefore Rodolpho can become an American Citizen. While being arrested Marco accuses Eddie in front of the whole community; "That one! He killed my children! That one stole the food from my children!" These accusations result in Eddie losing all his respect as he has broken the Code of Omerta; losing respect drives Eddie into a state of mind where all he is thinking about is gaining his respect back. His state of mind is fixed and he sounds to the audience as of he has gone mad about getting his respect back and the only way for that to happen is for Marco to apologise in front of the whole community. As Eddie is the hero of a Greek tragedy he is fated as one. Thus, I have concluded that tragedy in this play can be put down mainly to fate which is mentioned right at the start of the play when Alfieri says, "powerless as I watched it run its bloody course" this tells the audience that Alfieri could not intervene because Eddie was destined to die and it was just a matter of how, where and when. The how, where and when was what was decided by a mixture of his fatal flaw, breaking the Code of Omerta and different character's ideas about justice and 'laws'. In the tragedy Eddie broke the code knowing the consequences and would have agreed with Marco about the 'law' however it was a tragedy waiting to happen and Rodolpho acted as a catalyst making the tragedy take place sooner rather than later. Ultimately the Code of Omerta was not directly responsible for Eddie's death but all the factors added up were as well as the fact he was a fated hero. ...read more.

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