Discuss the importance of the stage directions in Arthur Miller's "A View from the Bridge" and what they reveal about the character of Eddie Carbone.

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Tom Sorensen


Discuss the importance of the stage directions in Arthur Miller’s “A View from the Bridge” and what they reveal about the character of Eddie Carbone.

Arthur Miller’s ‘A View from the Bridge’ is set in and around a workers apartment near Brooklyn Bridge, in an area called Red Hook.  The main population is made up of Italian immigrants including the main character, Eddie Carbone and his working class family, around which the story revolve.  Eddie works as a longshoreman and is about to take up the task of hosting two illegal immigrants in his house, however he, himself, is the cause of his own downfall and the play is about the events leading to his fatal climax.  

Almost all the characters speak with Brooklyn style vocabulary and language, however, this does not allow them to reveal their real feelings because their education and vocabulary is limited and Italian men are not very expressive. Another factor is this inexpressiveness is the Sicilian code.  

The Sicilian code was brought to America by the Italians and is way the Italian community dealt with the law.  It involves a strong sense of family tradition so Italians already living in America would accommodate immigrants coming over, like Eddie and the cousins.  The man of the house was expected to make all the important decisions and would be respected greatly by his family.  For these men actions speak louder than words and so they often found it difficult to show their true emotions.

This is one of the main reasons why “A View from the Bridge” contains very detailed stage directions. Normally, stage directions are used to give the general idea on how the actor or actress is feeling and what he or she has to act out.  It also gives any more minor details that future directors or the reader may need to know. The advantage of the detailed stage directions for a director in “A View from the Bridge” is that he has little to do to influence the characters. On the other hand, the actor can’t add his own ideas to his or her role. Another reason why there are a lot of detailed stage directions could be to pronounce the character’s felling more. Miller was a very precise director and knew exactly what he wanted. That’s why he made his stage directions so detailed, hence limiting the number of changes someone else could make to the play.

We get to know the basic plot of the story right at the beginning of the play.  Alfieri’s character goes with the comprehensive stage directions as both collaborate to make sure the play is performed and appreciated in the way Miller wanted it to be.  Alfieri gives us even more understanding towards Eddie’s character through his monologues and speech.  He says that other people had gone through the same situation and had “sat there as powerless as I, and watched it run its bloody course.”

We first get our first glimpse of Eddie almost as soon as the play has begun.  “He is forty – a husky, slightly overweight longshoreman”.  We know he is experienced but maybe a little past his prime.  Typical longshoremen earned little wages but we see Eddie as hardworking and honest, he has “a worker’s flat, clean, sparse, and homely”.  When we first see Eddie’s niece Catherine she is delighted to see him and Eddie “is pleased and therefore shy about it;” This gives us another instance where he finds it hard to express himself.  Catherine runs “her hands over her skirt” and shows off her new purchase.  Eddie asks her to spin around and calls her “beautiful” and, she shows off to him and “turns for him”.  Eddie showed just compliment her but he asks “lemme see in the back”, he’s looking at her in an inappropriate way instead of just complimenting her.  These could just be them trying to show their feelings like a loving father and daughter would or it could hint at a more sinister situation.

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When the news of the cousin’s arrival reaches the Carbones Beatrice is disturbed.  She hasn’t made the dinner or got the house into shape.  Eddie calms her down but she says “looking into his eyes” “I’m worried about you, that’s all I’m worried”.  This gives us the impression that she’s worried about Eddie in more ways than just coping with the cousins coming, the relationship between Catherine and Eddie may have been going on some time.

When Catherine tells Eddie about her new opportunity to be a stenographer Eddie is immediately disturbed.  He wants her to finish ...

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