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View from a Bridge - Manliness, Hostility, Aggression

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Introduction

Examine the Ideas of Manliness, Hostility and Aggression in "A View From The Bridge" How are these ideas connected? "A View from the Bridge" was written in 1955 and is set in the 1940's in Red Hook Brooklyn, a poor suburb of New York populated by a large Italo-American Community. There are lots of illegal immigrants living in this community, all pursuing the "American Dream". Arthur Miller had spent time living there with the longshoremen and working for a short time on the docks with them. This gave him an insight into the difficult conditions of their lives, the way they lived and how poor their lives were. He had also been to Sicily and was shocked by the poverty and amazed by the strict and violent code of honour which the people there were suspected to abide by. The plot of his play originated from a story he heard about in America where someone informed the authorities about illegal immigrants because he was of jealousy of them. This man had then been disowned by the community because of it - he had lost his 'name'. ...read more.

Middle

Later on she asks him, "When am I goin' to be a wife again, Eddie?" He is not fulfilling his obligations as a man and husband to Beatrice. The reason she is worried is that he seems to be more interested in Catherine than in her. He comments on everything Catherine does and wants to control it. He wants to tell her what to wear and even how to walk. He hates to think that she might be attractive to other men. When he is not obeyed he shows signs of aggression. When, for example, he is talking to Catherine about her clothes and the way she behaves at the beginning of the play, he says, "Now don't aggravate me Katie, you're walking wavy". When the two illegal immigrants (Marco and Rodolfo) arrive, it leads to problems and adds to the tensions which already exist. In different ways they challenge Eddie - his ideas of what it is to be manly, his dominant position in the family and bring to a head the problems with his feelings towards Catherine. Rodolfo, the younger brother, doesn't conform to Eddie's idea of what qualities a man should have. ...read more.

Conclusion

It has driven him to do the worst thing you can do in Red Hook - to be a snitch. The only way out he thinks is to challenge Marco and to get his name back. He says to Marco, "I want my name back". In the end Eddie dies not knowing why he was so angry. When Catherine says that she never wanted to do anything bad to him he says to her," Then why...?" Eddie dies and Marco will go to prison because they couldn't do anything but use violence - they had to follow the masculine code of honour. Alfieri, the lawyer and narrator in the play, pities and admires Eddie because he was willing to die to defend his good name and to get back "respect". He says about Eddie, "even as I know how wrong he was, and his death useless...I confess that something perversely pure calls to me from his memory, for he allowed himself to be wholly known." Manliness, aggression and hostility are themes that are linked throughout the play. They can maybe be admired but in the end, as Alfieri says, compromise is the only way, "Most of the time now we settle for half and I like it better". ...read more.

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