A View From The Bridge’ is a dramatic play by Arthur Miller, set in Red Hook, a poor district of Brooklyn, U. S, during the 1950’s. The play centres around a poor Italian family, and how their lives are affected by the arrival of two cousins. The plays main theme is the conventional idea manliness at this time in history, and the way the plays protagonist, Eddie Carbone, is influenced by it. In the play, Eddie Carbone is your average family man of the period, with a wife and ‘daughter’, (Beatrice and Catherine) and head of the household. He brings home the money, his wife cooks and cleans and he takes care of them.
His appearance and personality also conform to the preconceived idea of an Italian man, with dark hair and ‘sensible’ clothes e. g. shirt and trousers with a belt and black shoes. He enjoys bowling and playing cards, and has a physical job. He has built himself around his own concept of a man, and feels threatened or appalled by men who do not match what he thinks is right, or who appear more of a man than him. This is evident in the play as soon as the two ‘submarines’ (illegal immigrants) Marco and Rodolfo arrive. The two are brothers, and Beatrice’s cousins.
Rodolfo very quickly becomes a target for Eddie, for many reasons. Eddie’s blind hostility towards him is brought on by several factors that have been going on before the brothers arrived. Firstly, he has been having problems ‘in the bedroom’, and his own masculinity feels diminished. Secondly, Catherine, Eddies niece, whom he has raised since the death of her parents, is beginning to grow up. She is seventeen going on eighteen, and is beginning to get male attention. Eddie quickly tries to quash this by challenging her on why she’s ‘walkin’ wavy’ and why her clothes have changed.
He feels she may be growing independent of needing him, and when near the beginning of the play she tells him she’s got a job, he sees she may soon move away, and throughout the play he tries to keep her young, but this becomes impossible once Rodolfo arrives. Rodolfo has come to America from Sicily seeking work. He has blond hair, instantly going against what Eddie feels is right, is young and so lacks a family to provide for (unlike his brother Marco). Eddie tolerates him at first, but as he begins to attract attention form Catherine, Eddie starts to show open hostility towards him.
This begins with simply ignoring him, but as the play progresses and you learn of Rodolfo’s antics at work on the piers; ‘he jumps right up and a whole song comes out of his mouth! ‘ ‘ he even dances, it’s a regular free show! ” and Rodolfo’s high singing voice and ability to mend dresses and cook, leads Eddie to believe Rodolfo is a homosexual; ‘the guy ain’t right’ he explains. As the relationship between him and Catherine grows stronger, Eddie makes several attempts to put her off, such as explaining that Rodolfo only wants to marry Catherine to become an American citizen.
As more and more reasons for hating Rodolfo appear in Eddies mind, he distrust him more and more, leading to aggression towards him. As the prospect of marriage increases, you find the source of Eddies hatred, stemming from a perverse attraction to Catherine, and therefore intense jealousy because Rodolfo has what he never can. As Eddie’s jealousy begins to consume him, the quiet Marco takes a greater role in the play. Marco is a strong, hardworking man, with a poor family back in Sicily whom he is working to provide for.
He is dark with smart clothes and a honourable manner. When Rodolfo and Catherine dance after Eddie has warned Rodolfo to stay away from her, Eddie makes a poorly disguised attack on Rodolfo by ‘teaching him to box’. Eddie punches Rodolfo in the face, and as Marco realises that Eddie is picking on Rodolfo, he makes an attempt to put Eddie in his place by demonstrating his strength lifting a chair awkwardly with one hand. As Eddie repeatedly fails, Marco slowly lifts the chair until it is above his head, as if it were a weapon.