MR Essay, Research Paper
Coursework: A view from the Bridge
How does Arthur Miller Present the Stages of Eddie?s Collapse? Is Eddie solely responsible for his own downfall?
I will identify all the stages of Eddie?s collapse from the beginning to his tragic downfall. I will look closely at all events and situations that lead him to his downfall. I shall then decide whether Eddie brings it all upon himself or are there other characters in the play who contribute to his collapse.
Catherine and Eddie have a very close relationship. Eddie is the father figure and Catherine is the daughter, this is how it appears on the surface. However, it becomes clear to the reader that Eddie has more than fatherly love towards Catherine. Eddie is attracted to Catherine and in many ways she provokes his feelings.
?(Eddie was happy and therefore shy about it)?
Eddie enjoys having Catherine around him and always looking up to him. Eddie?s feelings and his jealousy are the main contributors to his downfall. Catherine is growing up and becoming a woman, Eddie cannot cope with this change, and he feels that no man is good enough for Catherine. He sees her as a ?Madonna? pure and innocent. He doesn?t like the idea of men taking an interest in Catherine and vice versa. This can be seen in the beginning of the play, Catherine comes to Eddie wearing a short skirt and seeking his approval of it. Immediately Eddie is worried about what other men will think of Catherine.
?I don?t like the looks those guys are given you at the candy store?.
At first this seems like a protective father but it soon turns into Eddie?s jealousy of Catherine?s attraction to other men. Eddie knows that Catherine?s maturity and growing interest in men will mean that he will soon no longer have the same role in her life. This creates a problem because he has got used to Catherine relying on him; he does not want this to change. Eddie still sees Catherine as a child and this is shown clearly at the beginning of the play when he calls her ?kid?.
Eddie has a less then perfect relationship with his wife Beatrice. He is obsessed with Catherine and this obsession grows stronger and stronger as the play goes on, putting a greater strain on his relationship with Beatrice.
?When am I go to be a wife again Eddie?.
Beatrice feels threatened by Eddie?s feelings for Catherine. She no longer feels like Eddie?s wife, She hints that these feelings of Eddies are causing their relationship to no longer be physical. Beatrice shows recognition of Eddie?s feelings quite early on in the play.
?What?re you gonna stand over her till she?s forty?
The fact Beatrice does not always agree with everything Eddie says makes Eddie feel like less of a man. Eddie begins to think he has lost her respect.
She later tries to stop Catherine from provoking these feelings Eddie has by pointing out her actions are inappropriate.
?You still walk around in front of him in your slip?
We can see Catherine?s ignorance too the whole situation evolving around her when she says:
?Well I forgot? and ?when did I do that?
Eddie?s downfall is also due to his obsession not just with Catherine, but with respect. He hates to feel anyone is better than him or has more than him, this is what causes the feud between Eddie and Rodolfo. He feels that Rodolfo is ?stealing? from him. When he says this he is referring to Rodolfo as the thief and Catherine as his valuable possession. He sees Catherine as his own and no one should be allowed to take her. He feels that he has done so much for Rodolfo like allowing him to stay in his house. He may feel because he has taken Catherine that Radolfo owes him something.
Jealousy is Eddie?s main problem. He likes to be centre stage, but when Rodolfo and Marco come this is taken away from him. As soon as Catherine meets Rodolfo she is attracted to him, this is seen through the stage directions, ?(Wondrously)? this shows the audience that a romance is about to start and cause many problems. Miller gives us an insight into the play. It also tells us just how amazed Catherine is with Rodolfo?s character. Eddie immediately notices the attraction and we see his downfall beginning. Eddie?s jealousy begins when he sees Catherine idolising Rodolfo and sends her away to get Coffee because of the interest she has in Rodolfo. When Rodolfo begins to sing Catherine is amazed, Rodolfo is the centre of attention and Eddie feels that he should be as it is his house. He stops Rodolfo by telling him he?ll be ?picked up?. Catherine however wants him to continue and from the stage direction we see she is ?enthralled? by him, this can be linked to when she looks at him wondrously because from both of these we can see her attraction and it is the main part of Eddie?s road to collapse. Beatrice points out to Eddie that he is jealous of Rodolfo
?Ah go on you?re just jealous?.
This angers Eddie but his jealousy is a major contributor to his downfall. Eddie has the ability to delude himself and avoids confrontation with the truth. He will not admit his feelings for Catherine. He has resentment towards Beatrice, because she encourages Catherine to have her independence in the first part of the play. Beatrice is trying to put a stop to things before they get to serious, unfortunately she remains a powerless character.
Eddie is continually trying to find fault in Rodolfo. He tries to put Catherine off marrying him by saying
?He only wants to get his papers?.
Miller creates tension here, the audience can see that Eddie is getting more and more desperate and he is now resorting to lying to Catherine. This is a climax to his eventual downfall. Because Catherine thinks so highly of Eddie she begins to doubt Rodolfo for a short while however she soon sees through Eddie.
I do not think it is Eddie?s fault that he has such obsessive feeling for Catherine because in a way she provokes them however she is very na?ve.
?(Running her hands over her skirt). You like it I just got it?.
She is always posing for Eddie and always seeking his approval. Catherine actions are inappropriate around Eddie as Beatrice points out to her.
A less important, but symbolic stage of Eddies collapse is when Eddie tries to prove to everyone that he is more of a man than Rodolfo, by teaching him how to box. Eddie is taking every opportunity to punch Rodolfo; Marco sees this and challenges Eddie to lift the chair this is as if to say that he can be just as man as Eddie if he wants to, he is warning Eddie. We can see this through the stage directions.
?(The chair raised like a weapon over Eddie?s head)?
The word ?weapon? is harsh we could say it represents Eddies downfall and the idea it is Marco who eventually stabs Eddie.
?(Eddie?s grin vanishes as he absorbs Marco?s look)?.
This is used to show Eddie realises this is no longer a game but something more serious. Eddie?s obsession with outdoing people is one of his major problems.
The final stage of Eddie?s downfall is when he calls the immigration, which is seen as the worst thing to do by the Sicilian law. When Eddie calls he knows he is doing wrong and we begin to see his regret. After this his family or friends will never accept him. All of Eddie?s respect, which meant so much to him, is lost in a minute when Marco spits in his face. This shows he sees Eddie as a piece of dirt. Eddie saw, phoning the immigration office as the only way to get back at Rodolfo, this deed in the end lead to his death and his collapse.
Although Eddie is the cause of his downfall he is not solely responsible. There are other characters that add to his problems.
Catherine is far from innocent; she provokes Eddie?s feelings towards her. Although she may do this unintentionally she still knows what she is doing and continues. She treats Eddie as if she were his wife. Beatrice makes it clear that Catherine?s behaviour is unusual as she points out to Catherine.
?You?re a grown woman and your in the house with a grown man so you?ll act different now heh??
Beatrice obviously sees the way Catherine behaves and tries to stop it before it goes too far. She wants to save her own relationship with Eddie as well as showing Catherine she needs to have her freedom and grow up.
Alfieri is also partially to blame he does not try to prevent Eddie from phoning the immigration and he does not go out of his way to prevent it. Eddie knows that what he is doing is wrong and he knows the consequences he shows this by his nervousness. ?(A phone booth begins to glow in the corner of the stage a faint lonely blue Eddie stands up jaws clenched)?. Miller uses this, as a dramatic device for the audience to see something terrible is about to happen. We could analyse the word ?lonely? as symbolic of how Eddie will be left alone as soon as he makes the call to the immigration office. The colour ?blue? is important because it could represent the coldness and resentment his family will feel towards him.
Rodolfo is also to blame. He knows that his relationship angers Eddie but he does nothing to shelter Eddie, instead he allows it to go on right under Eddie?s nose. This causes Eddie?s feelings to get even stronger and for his anger to build.
Eddie?s inability to listen to other people?s advice causes many problems and ultimately results in his downfall. If Eddie had taken Alfieri?s advice then he would not have died, but Eddie could not see that taking someone?s advice would help he was on a one way mission to separate Rodolfo and Catherine. This could be related to when Miller says, ?his eyes were like tunnels? Eddie has tunnel vision and although he wants people to give advice he knows he is never going to listen. Because of his inability to listen Eddie seems destined to meet his downfall
?Turning the blade inwards and pressing it home?
The word ?Home? is very symbolic because it is as if he was always going to meet his end as soon as Catherine fell in love.
Overall Eddie is the cause of his own down fall. His feelings for Catherine, his jealousy and his hate towards Rodolfo are all to blame. He brings it upon himself by not accepting other men for Catherine and causing Catherine to turn against him.
A VIEW FROM A BRDGE