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Examine the ideas of Manliness, Hostility and Aggression in A View From the Bridge. How are these ideas connected?

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Introduction

A View From the Bridge - Arthur Miller Examine the ideas of Manliness, Hostility and Aggression in 'A View From the Bridge'. How are these ideas connected? A View From the Bridge is set in Red Hook, a slum area in Brooklyn, New York during the 1950's. It follows the tale of an Italian American family consisting of Eddie, Beatrice and Catherine. Eddie and Beatrice are husband and wife and they look after orphaned niece Catherine. The tragic hero of this play, Eddie Carbone, works as a longshoreman (harbour labourer) in the Brooklyn Bridge docks. Catherine is still at school and is approaching adulthood, a fact that Eddie is struggling to deal with. Beatrice could be described as a typical housewife and she takes care of domestic affairs. The arrival, by means of illegal immigration, of Beatrice's cousins Rodolfo and Marco into the household is the catalyst for Eddie's eventual demise. The idea for this play was borne from the playwright, Arthur Miller's, own experiences as a harbour labourer on the waterfront, a place he described as "the Wild West, a desert beyond law" and a true story that he had heard from a lawyer friend of his. Arthur Miller uses the play to explore different ideas on what constitutes masculine behaviour through the actions of his characters. The protagonist, Eddie, has inflexible views on what represents manliness. These beliefs are the engine that drives the play to its bloody conclusion. The conflict in this play arises from the stark differences that exist between Eddie and Rodolfo's way of behaving. Interestingly, conflict also occurs when Marco, Rodolfo's brother, conforms to Eddie's attitudes and consequently threatens Eddie's status in his household and his neighbourhood. The foundation for all of Eddie's ideals on masculinity is respect. He places particular importance on the respect he has in his neighbourhood and household. It could be said that the weakness in Eddie's character is that he lacks self-respect, as he shows when he goes against all his principles in "ratting" to the Immigration Bureau. ...read more.

Middle

Eddie, reacting as an animal would in the wild, finds a weaker opponent in Rodolfo. In the ensuing fight, Eddie easily restrains Rodolfo. When talking to Alfieri, Eddie says that Rodolfo "didn't give me the right kind fight" and he uses this as evidence to prove that "the guy ain't right". This is ironic because Eddie knows that he is weaker than Marco. Does this then mean that Eddie "ain't right"? Eddie's aggression to Rodolfo is just one example of his animalistic behaviour; Alfieri refers to it regularly in his narratives. Eddie's secret love for Catherine causes him to lose control; Alfieri says "passion had moved into his body, like a stranger", and he acts on impulse, doing whatever comes natural to him to protect his name and Catherine. In my opinion, the actor playing Eddie should be very intense and walk in a style that resembles the roaming of an animal, this would show to the audience his animal instincts. Eddie's impulsive behaviour causes him to make decisions that do not make any sense. Alfieri, in the concluding narrative, says that Eddie "allowed himself to be purely known". By "purely known", Alfieri means acting completely on instinct, which often results in irrational behaviour. Alfieri appears to respect Eddie for being completely natural yet realises that this came at the expense of others and ultimately himself, which causes Alfieri "to mourn him with a certain alarm". Alfieri puts forward the idea that it is "better to settle for half". With regard to human behaviour, he means that a person should be reserved if they wish to settle in a community. The phrase "the guy ain't right", is Eddie's way of intimating that Rodolfo is homosexual. He believes this because he thinks that the qualities that Rodolfo displays are distinctly feminine. He states this frankly to Alfieri, "you wouldn't be lookin' for him (Rodolfo) you be lookin' for her". ...read more.

Conclusion

This is different to Eddie who sometimes uses sarcasm to be hostile to another person, like when he muses, "he sings, he cooks .........". The male in the play who displays the least amount of hostility and aggression in this play is Rodolfo. I think this is because he is the most intelligent. Evidence of his intelligence is found in the lively, imaginative and passionate way in which he speaks. An example of this is seen when he describes Catherine metaphorically as a trapped "little bird". Rodolfo's intellect gives him better understanding of situations whereas Marco and Eddie see things as either right or wrong. He tries to use his understanding to find a compromise between both points of view, in order to avoid conflict. Rodolfo's willingness to avoid aggression goes against Eddie's image of man. The ideas of masculinity, hostility, and aggression are linked by Eddie's view on how to be a man. Respect is so important to Eddie that when it is dented by any if the characters he reacts in the only way he knows how, with hostility and aggression. He generally shows this through physical action because he finds it difficult to convey his feelings through word. Women play an important role in linking masculinity, hostility and aggression because they are at the root of all the men's feelings in this play. In A View From the Bridge, aggression and hostility is sometimes displayed through dialogue but the greatest impression on the audience is left by the action seen on stage. This makes it a very visual play. A View From The Bridge does not come up with a satisfactory conclusion on the events as Eddie is dead and Marco is due to be deported. This allows Arthur Miller to focus on the lessons that the audience can learn from the play rather than what the characters gain. The closing narrative clearly conveys the message, through Alfieri, that people have to compromise their ideals to live in harmony as a community because of the diversity of opinions and characteristics of the human race. ...read more.

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