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In this essay I aim to explore how Arthur Miller develops the character of Eddie Carbone in three key scenes from A view from a Bridge.

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Introduction

In this essay I aim to explore how Arthur Miller develops the character of Eddie Carbone in three key scenes from A view from a Bridge. A View from a Bridge has its foundation in the 1940's at what time Miller became interested in the life of longshoremen of Brooklyn's harbour, populated and worked by people who were poorly paid and exploited by their employers and who were in many cases immigrants in hope of work, wealth and a higher level of existence, the American dream. For the duration of this time, a lawyer friend of Miller's mentioned a story of a longshoreman who ratted to the Immigration Bureau on two relatives he'd been hiding away, in order to break an engagement between one of them and his niece. Some years afterwards, Miller visited Sicily where he learnt the habit of men who waited in hope of work. "Always hungry, but all they were eating was time". This image combined with the story he heard earlier provided the background to the play. Miller intended of writing his play using Greek conventions ("one long line with one explosion"), in which a central character is led by fate towards a destiny he cannot escape. Greek plays were all one act plays, a continuous action. Miller wanted to deal with the theme of betrayal, particularly because of the McCarthy hearings in the US, whereby former friends betrayed one another to the State Committee accusing them of subversion, in order to save themselves from the same threat, even though the accusations claiming that people were communists remained unsupported. Likewise, Eddie is prejudice against Rodolfo who is different and yet, he cannot put into words the reasons for his hatred. Eddie Carbone is an Italian longshoreman working on the New York docks, who is recognized by Alfieri (the storyteller in the play), as the tragic hero of this particular tragedy. ...read more.

Middle

On stage, I would advise Eddie to initially grasp a tabloid newspaper, such as the "Saturday Evening Post". This very American weekly paper would also confirm Eddie's aspiration to become an American (although he is Italian-American, he is dismissive of Sicilian ways and is more Brooklyn than Palermo in his speech). However, Eddie would immediately set aside the tabloid and pick up a Broadsheet, such as the "New York Times", which includes very complex language. The sudden change of newspaper would signal to the on looking audience that something has motivated him to select the larger broadsheet. With this larger newspaper Eddie would block himself off from the other characters and threaten or warn Rodolfo of his linguistic versatility. As a result, Eddie has already started a conflict between Rodolfo and him. Afterwards, Miller shapes Eddie's hatred of Rodolfo to the extent that Eddie despises everything he does. Therefore, when they discuss the colour of oranges and Eddie mistakes oranges to be green, Rodolfo thoughtfully suggests that "Lemons are green." Eddie, seeing this with spiteful scrutiny, resents Rodolfo's instruction instantly. "(resenting his instruction) I know lemons are green, for Christ's sake, you see them in the store, they're green sometimes." This makes Rodolfo's attempts to speak throughout the scene seem minimal when compared to his talkative nature; although this only occurs because of Eddie's hasty disturbances into Rodolfo's short sentences. As a result, Miller makes clear to the audience, Eddie's hatred towards Rodolfo. In addition, familiar with Rodolfo's superior speaking potential, Eddie triumphs in the speaking contest against him, by forbidding his opponent to speak. Moreover, Eddie publicizes his desire to provoke conflict. For instance, Eddie offensively remarks while he discusses Marco's wife, "I betcha there's plenty surprises sometimes when those guys get back... they count the kids and there's a couple extra than when they left?" He implies that Marco's wife commits adultery. ...read more.

Conclusion

In the closing speech by Alfeiri, he declares "we settle for half", in which case he is referring to Eddie's attitude towards the American and Sicilian law. Eddie has followed the American law, by reporting the illegal immigrants to the authorities. However, he has also pursued Sicilian concepts; such as the last moment, when he was prepared to die for his reputation. This shows that he is half American and half Sicilian. Alfieri recognizes that the death of Eddie Carbone should serve as a reminder to those who must carry on, and to the audience, that "it is better to settle for half, it must be." Yet as Alfieri admits, this represents a compromise - of people's hopes, desires and sense of justice - which he ultimately regards with alarm. The chorus, Alfieri, is the law. He has the ability to move in and out of the play. He knows the Sicilian way, but understands that the Sicilian way is something you outgrow when you come to America. I suspect that Eddie wants to be more like Alfieri than any other character. He wants to have a foot in both camps. He wants to be defined by his job. Miller implies that Eddie is a tragic hero, since the one virtue Eddie lacks is not being able to settle for half. Eddie cannot accept the presence of other men being something other than a threat to his authority. It was obvious from the beginning that Eddie would get into trouble if he continued what he was doing, but his obsession with not being able to settle for half brought about the event that Alfieri foresaw and which he was powerless to prevent, despite his best efforts. The play is a Greek tragedy because Eddie is led by fate towards a destiny he cannot escape. Through his death, the audience is involved, purged of their emotions by a tragic ending, leaving the theatre sadder but wiser. In conclusion, Eddie is Miller's solution that he set himself about trying to write a Greek tragedy in Brooklyn. Shezad Chowdhury 10P Page 1 of 6 ...read more.

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