When Marco confronts Eddie, Eddie is still holding his knife when Marco stabs him with it. Eddie brought the knife to kill Marco if he would not give Eddie back his respect, which he had already lost. This symbolises the fact that he brought it upon himself, and only he could have prevented it. At the end of the play, Alfieri’s assessment of Eddie, makes us empathise with him, and makes the audience think about why he betrayed himself and his family. It also makes us realise that Eddie was a good man, who was blinded by love, and lost track of what was right.
The way his character is presented changes throughout the play, but the audience can always connect with, and understand him. At start of the play, we are shown that Catherine cares for Eddie, as the first time we see her she is waiting on him and looking after him. ‘I’ll get you a beer. ‘ (p5). This shows the audience that Eddie and Catherine are very close and that she cares for him, and would do anything to try and please him. Throughout the play she is referred to as baby or kid, ‘Now don’t get mad, kid. ‘(p6), but she is far more grown up than people believe.
When Eddie tells her that she cannot go to work, she is upset and disappointed, but does not question his decision. This shows that she values his opinion, and does whatever he says. The audience feels sorry for Catherine, as we can see that she is trapped by Eddie, and can not grow up because Eddie does not want to lose her. Beatrice warns her off Eddie, and shows her that she is behaving inappropriately around Eddie. ‘I told you fifty times already, you can’t act the way you act. You still walk around in front of him in your slip.
Or like you sit on the edge of the bathtub talkin’ to him when he’s shavin’ in his underwear. ‘ (p30). This is the first time in the play when the audience get suspicious of Catherine and Eddie’s relationship, and begin to question whether it is more than just an innocent bond. Catherine falls in love with Rodolfo and he helps her to realise that Eddie is trying to trap her because he doesn’t want her to grown up. ‘If I take in my hands a little bird. And she grows and wishes to fly. But I will not let her out of my hands because I love her so much, is that right for me to do?
” (p46). As the play progresses she gradually becomes more grown up and more independent and stands up for what she wants instead of just doing what Eddie wants her to do. ‘Eddie, I’m not gonna be a baby any more! ” (p47). We want Catherine to succeed, but feel sorry for Eddie; because we can see that he is losing her. At the end, Catherine no longer cares what Eddie thinks, or wants her to do. ‘No, I made up my mind. ‘ (p53). Here we empathise with Eddie, and can see how much he is suffering, but also sympathise with Catherine, as we can see that she is torn.
Beatrice warns Catherine off Eddie and tells her that her behaviour is inappropriate. ‘When he comes home sometimes you throw yourself at him like when you was twelve years old. ‘ (p30). The audience is shown that she knows that Eddie is in love with Catherine. We then feel sorry for her, as we realise that she is powerless, but wants to save them both. She tells Catherine that she needs to assert her independence and stand up to Eddie. ‘Now the time came when you say good-bye. ‘ (p31). She also tells her that she needs to go with her heart and choose Rodolfo over Eddie.
The audience understands that Eddie’s actions and decisions are affecting not only Catherine, but also Beatrice. Beatrice made a promise to Catherine’s mother to take care of her and she keeps her promise and looks out for her best interests. She is a good mother to Catherine, and a good wife to Eddie, despite everything. ‘Then we all belong in the garbage. You and me too. ‘ (p61). We empathise with her and understand that she cannot betray Eddie, but feels that someone from the family should be at Catherine’s wedding.
She attempts to understand how Eddie feels, but confronts him about his feelings towards Catherine instead. ‘You want somethin’ else, Eddie, and you can never have her! ” (p62). The audience can see how helpless she feels, and wants her to get through to Eddie before it is too late. Eddie sees Rodolfo as a threat, and someone who is going to destroy his family. This is ironic because it is Eddie who actually destroys it and later in the play Rodolfo tries to unite them, but Eddie refuses. Eddie is very suspicious of him and thinks that he only wants to marry Catherine for her papers.
‘He’s only bowin’ to his passport. ‘ (p28). The audience feels sorry for Rodolfo as he has not done anything to offend Eddie, but he is still being punished. He tries to get Marco and Eddie to forgive each other, but neither of them wants to apologise. The audience can see that Rodolfo only wants what is best for Catherine, and wants her whole family to be at the wedding. We can see that his intentions are good, and he is not the evil, calculating person that Eddie would have us believe that he is. Marco is very masculine and has a lot in common with Eddie, and so can relate to him.
He came to America to work, so that he could send money back to his family in Sicily, unlike Rodolfo who came to live and to make money for himself. ‘I will buy a motorcycle. ‘ (p19). Marco is more like Eddie than we first realise, as he is in charge of Rodolfo and tells him what to do. He can also be a bit controlling at times as he doesn’t always ask Rodolfo for his opinion and just tells him what to think. At the end of act 1, he lifts the chair with one arm. By this he is trying to show Eddie that family is important to him and that if he hurts Rodolfo then he will have to answer to him.
Before he goes to confront Eddie, he goes to the church to ask for forgiveness for what he is about to do in case he is killed. ‘He’s praying in the church. ‘ (p61). This shows the audience that it is a last resort and he does not plan on hurting anyone. He kills Eddie because he feels he has to – this is mainly down to his perception of the law and justice. ‘In my country he would be dead now. ‘ (p58). The audience feels sorry for Marco, because he can not be helped, a lot like Eddie. He only does what he feels he has to. The law and justice often do not mean the same thing.
The law is a set of rules that people have to follow; whereas justice is what is right and fair. Alfieri works with the law, but Marco only understands justice, and revenge. ‘A Lawyer means the law, and in Sicily, from where their fathers came, the law has not been a friendly idea since the Greeks were beaten’ (p4). This is because in the past, Italy was conquered several times, by different cultures, each bringing a different set of rules. This meant that the Sicilian people had to use their own perception of what was right or wrong to bring justice to a particular situation.
‘In my country he would be dead now. ‘ (p58). This meant that people were seeking revenge, for something that has happened, which lead to no-one getting justice, because of the vendetta between the two parties. The quest for justice just goes round in circles causing unnecessary pain and suffering. Louis and Mike represent the community and how it works. At the start Louis and Mike are very close friends with Eddie, but by the end of the play, they completely disown him and no longer talk to him.
This is because of the traditional Sicilian values of the Brooklyn community and their Italian backgrounds, and because Eddie has not only betrayed Marco and Rodolfo, but he has betrayed the entire community. This is shown earlier in the story Beatrice and Eddie tell Catherine. Eddie told her that Vinnie Bolzano betrayed his family by telling immigration that his uncle was staying with the family illegally. His father and five brothers supposedly threw him out and spat on him in front of the whole neighbourhood, symbolising his rejection. Imagery is also a key point in making the audience understand the characters.
Because the play was performed in Manhattan, but is set in Brooklyn; Miller has to use examples to help the audience to understand the obligations of the longshoremen. One example is the story of Vinnie Bolzano. ‘He had five brothers and the old father. And they grabbed him in the kitchen and pulled him down the stairs-three flight his head was bouncin’ like a coconut. And they spit on him in the street, his own father and his brothers. ‘ (p14). Eddie uses this example to warn Catherine not to mention that Marco and Rodolfo staying with them.
Another key image is the image of the bridge. This represents Alfieri and his view of Eddie’s life. Miller uses dramatic irony to engage with the characters, by making us realise how they feel, sometimes even before they do. For example, we, the audience realise that Eddie is in love with Catherine before he does. The characters in ‘A View from the Bridge’ are both Italian and American. For example Eddie is legally an American citizen, but still has several Italian values. This means that he will never be fully American, as he does not totally accept their culture.
Rodolfo is Italian, but by singing the song ‘Paper Doll’ he is showing that he has partly accepted the American culture, and has started the transition from being an Italian to an American, as the song was originally American. Marco and Rodolfo also bring certain Italian values to America. For example Marco’s view of loyalty and justice; and Rodolfo’s willingness to forgive Eddie for the way he has treated them. These traditionally Italian values affect their behaviour, because they do not fully understand the American culture.
Alfieri understands this because he has to deal with their behaviour everyday, so he never forgets how they think, and their culture. He also is still in contact with the American culture, and so can understand both perceptions of a certain situation. Alfieri can evaluate these situations better than Eddie, because Eddie has become accustomed to the American way of doing things, and so has partly lost his Italian roots. Most of the longshoremen are Italian, so they still uphold the traditional values of Italy.
This includes omerta, and also dictates what is acceptable and what is not. This is one of the reasons that they are so quick to disown Eddie, just like they did Vinnie Bolzano. This often affects the way people are regarded. The characters of Beatrice, Marco and Eddie all represent the past, and the old-fashioned perspective; whereas Catherine, Rodolfo and Alfieri represent the future, and progress. Beatrice is a typical Italian wife – she sticks by her husband no matter what, despite everything that he has done she still stands by him.
‘Then we all belong in the garbage. You and me too. ‘ (p61). Catherine, however, is liberated. She does not care what Eddie says or does, she is going to do what ever she wants to. ‘Eddie, I’m not gonna be a baby any more! ” (p47). Marco still has his traditional values, and so does Eddie. This is why they are both so stubborn, and neither of them wants to back down from the argument. Rodolfo is willing to forgive Eddie even after the way he was treated. Alfieri tries to make everyone get along, and forgive each other for the sake of Catherine and Rodolfo’s wedding.
Miller represents a community who are very much stuck in the past and are closed to new ideas, by using very specific stage directions and lay out. For example, most of the action takes place in a small apartment with the audience as voyeurs who represent the community. This shows us that the characters have no privacy and trapped. In this essay, I have explained how Arthur Miller presents characters who engage the emotions of the audience, and to what extent these characters are trapped by their time and background.