In “A View From The Bridge” how does Arthur Miller makes Eddie’s character dramatic and tragic?
“A View From The Bridge”
Arthur Miller wrote the play called “A View From The Bridge” in 1955. It is set in the late 1940s amongst the Sicilian community in Brooklyn, New York. People within the Sicilian community view immigration matters and loyalty very seriously. They forbid people who dare to snitch to the Immigration Bureau on illegal immigrants, as a lot of them are their own relatives and isolate those who degrade loyalty for good. Respect and dignity are other very important issues, especially within the men in the community as it is going to be revealed later in the play.
Eddie Carbone the main dramatic character in the play is a slightly overweight longshoreman, who lives with his wife Beatrice and Beatrice’s niece Catherine. As the play progresses two illegal immigrants from Italy called Marco and Rodolfo come to live with them. They come in New York as illegal immigrants because they are extremely poor and there is no work for them back in Italy. Marco’s intensions are to work in New York for around five or six years so he’s got enough money to send back home to provide for his family, and to especially buy medicine for his elder son who’s terribly ill.
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Rodolfo on the other hand is planning to be an American, so when he’s rich enough he can go back in Italy and buy a motorcycle to deliver messages for rich people.
Arthur Miller intentionally gives the audience detailed information about their background and future plans so he can get hold of the audience interest in the two characters as their backgrounds and future plans are vital in the play.
Miller cleverly uses the character Alfieri as an engaged narrator as well as a lawyer within the community who wisely advises Eddie to make the right decisions throughout the play. Right from the introduction of the play he warns the audience that violent and tragic events are going to take place during the play when he says.
“…powerless as I, and watched it ruin it’s bloody course.”
Immediately from this statement tense mood starts to build up and it also gives the audience an insight of what to expect.
He also makes the audience become conscious of the fact the neighbourhood is quite dangerous and violent when he states.
“I no longer keep a pistol in my cabinet…the people in this neighbourhood lack elegance and glamour.”
Alfieri is essential to the structure of the play as he opens and closes the play.
Eddies feelings towards Rodolfo are quite harsh and unfair. He hates the fact that Rodolfo excites Catherine, and because Rodolfo has dreams Eddie is jealous. He reckons that Rodolfo is actually homosexual due to his blonde hair and the fact that he can sing. So therefore he goes to Alfieri trying to find a legal way in which to condemn Rodolfo. This shows just how far he can go to get Rodolfo.
He’s also furious at him for not asking his permission to go out with Catherine.
“…you wouldn’t just drag off some girl without permission.”
This builds more tension and atmosphere between Eddie and Rodolfo and the audience.
Arthur Miller intended for this scene to be apprehensive by creating an awkward tense atmosphere of when Catherine at this point is sick and tired of the person she loves being criticized in such a way. She therefore challenges Eddie’s authorities in asking Rodolfo to dance.
Eddie simply freezes and carries on attacking Rodolfo by asking him to box.
He finally manages to persuade Rodolfo into practicing boxing with him. He allows Rodolfo to hit him lightly, but when Rodolfo is not expecting a punch from him, Eddie knocks him out, but Rodolfo soon confirms that he wasn’t hurt.
Marco was quiet throughout the whole boxing scene and when it was over and done with, Rodolfo and Catherine started dancing again. Marco then challenges Eddie to pick up a chair by one leg. When Eddie fails Marco lifts up the chair by one leg with not much difficulty exposing his full strength. Although this action was done without any words, Eddie realised that this was a threat from Marco warning him that he would protect his younger brother if any harm came to him.
This creates an even more impacting atmosphere and anxiety.
At this stage Beatrice feels very awkward and uncomfortable at the situation that’s taking place in the living room, and is frustrated that she cannot do anything about it.
Eddie now feels lost and trapped and the only way he can see how to prevent Catherine from marrying Rodolfo is by snitching on Rodolfo and Marco to the authorities. He wasn’t completely sure about this line of action as it meant that he would be an evil dishonourable man, but didn’t know how else he could stop the wedding from taking place. He certainly didn’t feel justified about the action he took because soon he realised that what he had done was dishonourable and cruel. He brought shame to himself and his family.
He fights and dies to restore his good name in the community. Alfieri says of him
“… he allowed himself to be wholly known and for that I think I will love him…”
This shows the point I that made in the introduction of the play about how dignity, honour, loyalty and respect are very important factors within the community, and those who degrade them receive harsh consequences.
We find out later in the play that Marco has a very strong sense of pride and honour. We see this by when he requires justice even in spite of the consequences, and goes for it.
“Animal! You go on your knees to me!”
I think that Arthur Miller has been highly successful in making Eddies character dramatic and tragic throughout the play. One example of this is at the end when Eddie fights and dies to restore his good name in the community. Another one is when he won’t let Beatrice go to Catherine’s wedding.
“You walk out of this door to that wedding and you ain’t coming back Beatrice”
It is throughout Eddie’s dramatic character that the audience want to know and see more of the play “A View From The Bridge”.