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What Makes "A View from the Bridge" byArthur Miller 'Good' Theatre?

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Introduction

WHAT MAKES "A VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE" BY ARTHUR MILLER 'GOOD' THEATRE? A View from the Bridge is a post war play centred on longshoreman Eddie Carbonne. Eddie lives with wife Beatrice, and niece Catherine. The play depicts the conflict that occurs when, Italian immigrants and relatives of Beatrice, Marco and Rudolpho, come to stay with them and Rudolpho forms a romantic relationship with Catherine, eventually marrying her. It ends in a violent confrontation between Marco and Eddie. Eddie confronts Marco with a knife, but it backfires and he is stabbed to death. I am going to answer the question, "what makes "A View from the Bridge" 'good' theatre" by firstly analysing four main components: the characters, themes, stage directions and dramatic devices. I am going to begin with the characters. The three most important characters are Eddie, Beatrice and Alfieri. Firstly, Eddie has the leading role and the complexities of his character add many intriguing dimensions. For instance, there are his deep feelings for Catherine and their incestuous connotations. Throughout the play, Eddie's feelings towards Catherine are made known to the audience and many of the other characters. However Eddie still seems oblivious and even though his actions strongly suggest he loves her as more than a niece, he never verbalises his feelings or wilfully admits to them. "EDDIE: What can I do? ... I gotta sit in my own house and look at a son-of-a-bitch punk like that - which he came out of nowhere! I give him my house to sleep! I take the blankets off my bed for him, and he takes and puts his dirty filthy hands on her like a god dam thief! ALFIERI [rising] : But Eddie, she's a woman now EDDIE: He's stealing from me! ALFIERI: She wants to get married, Eddie. She can't marry you, can she? EDDIE [furiously] : What are you talkin' about, marry me! ...read more.

Middle

Beatrice adheres to this social rule, as far as staying at home and being domestic: "BEATRICE: ...I was gonna clean the walls, I was gonna wax the floors. [She stands disturbed]" (Act 1 p16) However, when it comes to decision-making, which was traditionally a male role, she actually wields more power than Eddie, but does so in such a way that lets him believe he is the one in control. This is exhibited when they are discussing Catherine's job offer. At first Eddie is opposed to her taking it. The stage directions make the audience aware of this, as they direct Eddie to be "strangely nervous" and then he asks many questions in quick succession. "EDDIE: Where's the job? What company...Nostrand Avenue and where?" (Act 1 p18). However, gradually Beatrice changes his mind with arguments such as "Fifty dollar a week Eddie". Here she is appealing to his financial head and it works because Eddie says "Fifty?" in a "surprised" tone, showing his interest. She then goes on to counter every argument he brings forward, eventually forcing him to back down. However, when he does Catherine rushes to thank him, rather than Beatrice, reassuring him of his role as decision maker. In addition to the social and historical themes already mentioned, there is a more philosophical or psychological one. Alfieri articulates it brilliantly in his opening and closing soliloquies. Acting "purely" or acting as "half". Alfieri is exploring, through the story, whether it is best for human beings to be true to themselves, or restrain themselves for the sakes of others. It is very attention grabbing because by asking this deep and meaningful question, he is stepping away from the relative triviality of Eddie and his life, and looking at the conflict between society and human nature. "ALFIERI: But this is Red Hook, not Sicily...and now we are quite civilised...now we settle for half and I like it better. ...read more.

Conclusion

The authenticity of the characters and their accents make them, and therefore the story more realistic and believable to the audience The stagecraft also to makes it good theatre. The whole play is in one setting so the scene never changes. The actors are always within close proximity, so cannot ever escape from the story, which allows the pace and tension to build up, without any abrupt pauses. It also implies a feeling of claustrophobia, which further heightens the tension because the characters can never escape. Though it is a modern play, it is essentially a Greek tragedy: a tale of fundamentally good man with one fatal flaw, which proves his eventual downfall. Eddie is this good man and his flaw is his feelings for Catherine. Alfieri brings this to the audience's attention when he tells the audience "He was a good man" (Act 1 p26.), then later tells Eddie "there is too much love for the niece" (Act 1 p48). Alfieri takes the place of the Greek chorus: the croup of actors who sing or speak in unison, generally commenting on the significance of events. Miller used this format because it is easily recognisable to most theatre audiences. Therefore they know the story will have a tragic outcome, which increases their anticipation. So in conclusion, Miller combines complex characters, a wide range of underlying themes, effective stage directions and dramatic techniques with other things to create a successful piece of theatre. These wide ranges of techniques and devices help the play to engage the audience on many different levels, by stimulating them visually, verbally, emotionally and intellectually. Although, for analytical purposes, I have divided these things up, the audience responds to them as a whole and they all work together to make an impact. However, theatre, by definition is an art. So although "A View from the Bridge" is technically a good piece of theatre, due to the subjective nature of the arts, it is up the individual whether they enjoy it or not. ?? ?? ?? ?? - 1 - Sohna Jawara ...read more.

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