A View From The BridgeArthur Miller Essay

A View From The Bridge-Arthur Miller Essay, Research Paper Jo Hawkins Assessment 2 Semester 1 1998 ?A playwright with a social conscience?. Analyse the ways in which Arthur Miller presents Eddie Carboni as a victim of

A View From The Bridge-Arthur Miller Essay, Research Paper

Jo Hawkins

Assessment 2 Semester 1 1998

?A playwright with a social conscience?.

Analyse the ways in which Arthur Miller presents Eddie Carboni as a victim of

Brooklyn in the 1950?s.

In his play, A View From the Bridge ,(1955), Arthur Miller (1915-) portrays the

protagonist, Eddie Carboni, an uneducated Italian-American longshoreman, as a victim of

American society in the 1950?s. Set in Red Hook, an industrial area of Brooklyn, Eddie

lives with his wife, Beatrice and her sister?s child, his niece Catherine, of whom he is

unwittingly over protective. Life is hard but even until the arrival of two illegal

immigrants, Marco and Rodolpho, who are relatives of Beatrice. When Rodolpho forms a

relationship with Catherine, Eddie is threatened in a way he can neither articulate nor even

acknowledge. He does his best to destroy this relationship in order to preserve his

unchanging lifestyle and when his attempts fail, he calls the immigration department and

turns informer. When challenged by Marco, Eddie fights to uphold his honour and is

killed. Through this conflict, Miller explores the issues of gender roles and justice within

American Society. This is achieved by the skilful use of theatrical conventions including

character and setting. As Miller?s succeeds in presenting Eddie Carboni as a victim of

society he proves himself to be ?a playwright with a social conscience?

Miller explores the changing gender roles in Brooklyn of the 1950?s, detailing the demise

of patriarchy and Eddie?s reactions to this dramatic social change. This confusion,

accentuated by the arrival of two submarines, Marco and Rodolpho, serves to highlight

the underlying sexual tension between Eddie, Catherine and Beatrice. This tension is

present from the beginning of the play as Eddie laments, ?you?re walking? wavy? to

Catherine , acknowledging her sexuality , his jealousy apparent as he voices his

disapproval. The admission of Catherine into the work force is hard for Eddie to accept

as her maturity becomes harder for him to ignore. His pride also begins to faulter as he

learns that Catherine earns more money in her first year as a stenographer, than he does as

an experienced longshoreman. Beatrice recognises Eddies hidden desires before he or

Catherine are aware of it, this becoming apparent in the first act as she snaps at Eddie ?I?m

not mad, you?re the one is mad?. With the arrival of Marco and Rodolpho, Eddie

struggles to uphold his position as head of the family. Rodolpho possesses an unconscious

femininity that patriarchal Eddie does not understand and his developing relationship with

Catherine causes much jealousy and resentment. As Eddie struggles with his own gender

identity and strong feelings for Catherine he turns to the law in an attempt to find justice.

The differences between justice and American law is explored by Miller through Eddie?s

moral and social conflict as he tries desperately to stop Catherine from marrying

Rodolpho. The play begins with an exposition from Alferi, a middle class lawyer who acts

as an impartial commentator for most of the play. Alferi connotes that the

American-Italian population has a disrespect for written law with roots that spread deep

into their Italian ancestry. Consequently, he acknowledges their own system of family law

and it?s Mafia parallels. Miller recognises the strength and validity of family law, the

nature of which remained incomprehensible to American society. The differences between

the two cultures are highlighted and criticised as Alferi reminisces, ?Oh, there were many

here who were justly shot by unjust men.? Eddie, blinded by a passion for Catherine he

cannot understand, does not recognise the differences between these cultures and alienates

himself from both of them by refusing to compromise between both. Informing the

immigration bureau of Rodolpho and Marco was not an illegal act , Miller simply presents

it as immoral. Eddie becomes a victim of both societies as he attempts to conform to


Miller uses the other characters to provide drama and further the plot, limiting their

development as complex individuals. In this way, Miller?s forms a true portrait of Eddie

as the betrayer, marginalising those whom he betrays. It is through Beatrice that Eddie?s

desires become articulated and Catherine becomes aware of the reasons he resents

Rodolpho. Catherine?s own loyalty for Eddie makes her feel guilty for loving Rodolpho

and when she recognises his misplaced passion she gains enough strength to leave. Eddie

blames the immigrants for the dramatic social change he experiences, not recognising that

they were only the catalyst. He never accepts them and therefore cannot understand them,

a folly that leads to the eventual communication breakdown. Rodolpho is well liked by all

who know him therefore Eddie?s rejection of him is considered unjust and emphasises his

apparent jealousy. Marco, however is very quiet and restrained until the plays tragic

conclusion in which he makes damning accusations of Eddie in front of the whole

Neighbourhood when he shouts, ?That one! I accuse that one!?. The strength of this

words have more impact as they contrast Marcos usual character and indicate his great

anger, justifying his later vendetta. When Eddie refuses to conform to unwritten civil law

he is victimised by his own family and those he had helped in the past.

Setting is used in A View from the Bridge to create contrast between the American and

Italian cultures and to make the themes more potent. Rodolpho does not conform to the

male Italian stereotype and is therefore unacceptable to Eddie. As a blonde man, set in a

tight knit society of Italian-Americans he serves as an example of the new generation of

men more in touch with their feminine sides and less dependent on patriarchy as a control

mechanism. On arrival into America, Rodolpho and Marco are awed by Eddie and

Beatrice?s ?clean, sparse, homely? workers flat. The audience is therefore sympathetic to

these immigrants and their predicament. The fact that they had broken United States law

is marginalised to such an extent that the conservative American audience of the 1950?s

that Miller wrote his play for would reject their own morality, at least for the plays

duration. By encouraging the audience to disregard preconditioned moral standards

concerning illegal immigrants in America, Miller encourages them to sympathise with

Eddie whose own morality is likewise divided.

Miller explores the themes of changing gender roles and justice through victimisation of

the central protagonist, Eddie Carboni due to his moral dilemma. Theatrical conventions

used in his portray include setting and character development. The introduction of the

two illegal immigrants, Rodolpho and Marco proves to be the catalyst for the revelation of

the underlying sexual tension between Eddie, his wife and his niece. The tension is

accentuated as Eddie?s position as head of the household is threatened by Catherine?s new

job and the success of the two submarines in conforming to American society. The

differences between family law and the constitutional law are also explored as it is Eddies

refusal to obey both and make a compromise that causes his own downfall. Miller never

truly develops the other characters into complex individuals but uses them to futher Eddies

own development. The setting is used to contrast the two cultures and the two types of

justice, promoting audience sympathy for the two immigrants Rodolpho and Marco which

leads to a greater understanding of Eddies morality. By gaining audience sympathy and

positioning them to see an different aspect of Brooklyn in the 1950?s, Miller displays a

heightened social conscience as he presents Eddie Carboni as victim of his own rigid