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How does Arthur Miller present characters who engage the emotions of the audience of A View from the Bridge(TM)? To what extent are these characters trapped by their time and background?

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Introduction

How does Arthur Miller present characters who engage the emotions of the audience of 'A View from the Bridge'? To what extent are these characters trapped by their time and background? In this essay I will attempt to explain how Arthur Miller presents characters who engage the emotions of the audience of 'A View from the Bridge', and to what extent these characters are trapped by their time and background. Alfieri is the chorus; he is there to explain the Sicilian culture to the Manhattan audience, and the play is based on Alfieri's view of Eddie's life. The audience at the time would be wealthy and would not have encountered most of the problems that the characters have to face on a daily basis. In this sense, Alfieri is describing another world; one that the audience does not understand. He is one of the most important characters even though he is not one of the most prominent. Alfieri tells the story, and makes us empathise with the characters. Without him, we would never understand why Eddie has fallen in love with Catherine, and so we would just judge him and consider it wrong, but instead we feel sorry for him, and realise that he is also suffering. Many of the characters are incapable of telling us how they feel, so Alfieri also articulates their feelings for us. Without Alfieri, the audience would never be able to understand the social commitments and restrictions of the 1950s American society, for example, the position of women and the life of the poor. Although he is a lawyer, we are shown that he is also a mediator, between the Italian and American communities. This is because he understands both cultures, and can identify with each perspective. He also narrates the play in the past tense; this makes us realise that there is nothing we can do to help him. ...read more.

Middle

It also makes us realise that Eddie was a good man, who was blinded by love, and lost track of what was right. The way his character is presented changes throughout the play, but the audience can always connect with, and understand him. At start of the play, we are shown that Catherine cares for Eddie, as the first time we see her she is waiting on him and looking after him. 'I'll get you a beer.' (p5). This shows the audience that Eddie and Catherine are very close and that she cares for him, and would do anything to try and please him. Throughout the play she is referred to as baby or kid, 'Now don't get mad, kid. '(p6), but she is far more grown up than people believe. When Eddie tells her that she cannot go to work, she is upset and disappointed, but does not question his decision. This shows that she values his opinion, and does whatever he says. The audience feels sorry for Catherine, as we can see that she is trapped by Eddie, and can not grow up because Eddie does not want to lose her. Beatrice warns her off Eddie, and shows her that she is behaving inappropriately around Eddie. 'I told you fifty times already, you can't act the way you act. You still walk around in front of him in your slip. Or like you sit on the edge of the bathtub talkin' to him when he's shavin' in his underwear.' (p30). This is the first time in the play when the audience get suspicious of Catherine and Eddie's relationship, and begin to question whether it is more than just an innocent bond. Catherine falls in love with Rodolfo and he helps her to realise that Eddie is trying to trap her because he doesn't want her to grown up. 'If I take in my hands a little bird. ...read more.

Conclusion

Alfieri can evaluate these situations better than Eddie, because Eddie has become accustomed to the American way of doing things, and so has partly lost his Italian roots. Most of the longshoremen are Italian, so they still uphold the traditional values of Italy. This includes omerta, and also dictates what is acceptable and what is not. This is one of the reasons that they are so quick to disown Eddie, just like they did Vinnie Bolzano. This often affects the way people are regarded. The characters of Beatrice, Marco and Eddie all represent the past, and the old-fashioned perspective; whereas Catherine, Rodolfo and Alfieri represent the future, and progress. Beatrice is a typical Italian wife - she sticks by her husband no matter what, despite everything that he has done she still stands by him. 'Then we all belong in the garbage. You and me too.' (p61). Catherine, however, is liberated. She does not care what Eddie says or does, she is going to do what ever she wants to. 'Eddie, I'm not gonna be a baby any more!'' (p47). Marco still has his traditional values, and so does Eddie. This is why they are both so stubborn, and neither of them wants to back down from the argument. Rodolfo is willing to forgive Eddie even after the way he was treated. Alfieri tries to make everyone get along, and forgive each other for the sake of Catherine and Rodolfo's wedding. Miller represents a community who are very much stuck in the past and are closed to new ideas, by using very specific stage directions and lay out. For example, most of the action takes place in a small apartment with the audience as voyeurs who represent the community. This shows us that the characters have no privacy and trapped. In this essay, I have explained how Arthur Miller presents characters who engage the emotions of the audience, and to what extent these characters are trapped by their time and background. ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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