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A View From the Bridge in Act One Essay

A View From the Bridge in Act One Essay

A View from the Bridge is a play written by Arthur Miller. This play is set in America in the 1950s, in an Italian American neighbourhood under the Brooklyn Bridge in New York. The area Eddie Carbone and his family live in is called “Red Hook”, a tightly knit community where neighbours are almost like family and everyone knows everything about each other. Red Hook is a poor area where all the families are in the same situation; men work at the docks and the women stay at home cooking, cleaning and caring for the children.

Most of Miller’s work is set in America and portrays realistic characters and events.

He deals with political and moral issues and weaves in ideas from Greek Tragedy. He is interested in how personal relationships dictate the way one leads one’s life and about people’s struggles to do what is right. In this play, Eddie is the tragic hero; he mirrors the “hubris” characteristic.

This will foreshadow to the audience that he will be the reason for his own downfall. The “Hubris” character, mentioned in one of Alfieri’s speeches, would tell the audience that Eddie would always thing that he’s right and no one would be strong enough to stand up and prove him wrong.

Miller gives us clues about the play through dramatic irony (audience will begin to understand that Eddie’s feelings towards his niece aren’t right), symbolism (the characters on stage use a lot of words that have several meanings, and one of those popular words in this play is “sugar”, which was mostly used to represent Catherine), foreshadowing (Miller gives us a straight introduction to the lawyer of this play who foreshadows a blood-shed ending.

Eddie also foreshadows his own future actions by telling his family about Vinny Bolzano) and by using stage directions (the audience gets a better understanding of the play by looking at the positions of the different characters, for example, throughout this play Eddie slowly becomes separated from his family, he becomes isolated, this is represented through the different arrangements on scene, towards the end of act one, Eddie’s mostly found sitting or standing by himself).

This can also be seen through Eddie’s language towards his niece (“I don’t like the looks they are giving you in the candy store”), the names he calls her “Kate”, the way he behaves to her and also through Beatrice’s and Alfieri’s actions and conversations to Eddie to try and stop what Eddie’s doing. Each of the dramatic functions shows us that there’s something wrong with Eddie and his relationship with his niece and this could also possibly cause his own downfall.

This play mirrors a Greek tragedy where the outcome is known. In this Greek tragedy, the ‘hubris’ character is represented as Eddie. Our narrator, Alfieri, who’s also an “unlucky” lawyer, guides us throughout the play and he sometimes gives the audience hints and clues about what’ll happen next. He’s the one who introduces the play at the beginning. He says “In some Caesar year… another lawyer…

heard the same complaint and sat there as powerless as I and watched run its bloody course”. His speech tells us that what is going to happen is inevitable. It happens again and again and no one can stop it. The word “bloody” tells us that this play will end with blood, perhaps a death. ”

Another lawyer” backs up one of my previous point, which shows that this happens again and again. “Caesar” also shows us that this started years ago. These words also give us a basic idea of the settings. Miller wanted to retell this story with an ordinary family; this is foreshadowing the inevitable tragic ending. In this play our hero is Eddie, Eddie Carbone.

He is a flawed-hero who doesn’t recognise his feelings towards Catherine, whom he also calls “Kate”. However, he’s not only a flaw-hero; he’s also a real hero. His actions show us this, for example he welcomes the idea of the illegal immigrants. Eddie tells Beatrice that “it’s an honour, B. I mean it. ”

He’s benevolent as well as generous. Eddie has supported his family and has also brought up Catherine. So in this section, Miller uses foreshadowing and Greek characters to make the audience aware of the tragic ending. Through foreshadowing, he makes the audience conscious that he is a real-hero because he helps Catherine, looked after her for all these years and accepted the immigrants into his house without any trouble.

But the audience will also be familiar with the fact that he is a flawed-hero, this is because of Alfieri’s speech, which is right at the beginning of the play. Alfieri mentions “Hubris” and that is the type of character that Eddie is mirroring. This will give a hint to the audience that his downfall would probably be caused by his own thoughts that others aren’t able to prove wrong, even if they do prove it wrong; Eddie ends up finding something wrong in there too. The whole man that Alfieri describes in Eddie is the self-interested man. Eddie’s actions within the play are completely motivated by his own desires at the expense of others. Hints about Eddie’s obsession with Catherine were given right at the beginning.

This will also make the audience aware of a tragic ending, his incorrect kind of obsession will obviously cause his downfall, and furthermore the audience will also start to wonder the extremes that he will go to, to keep his niece safe from men. Eddie’s obsession has one way or another extended, this has also led him to more acts. The audience starts to realise this when he says “you are walking wavy”.

This is not a usual relationship between an uncle and a niece. The audience will start to understand that something is wrong there. “Wavy” also emphasises the point that she does it on purpose, like moving her hips, it’s a natural thing to do, some people might suggest that she’s also attention seeking. However other people might suggest that it suggests a sexual manner which Eddie accuses Catherine of having just in her walk.

Eddie doesn’t seem to know that he’s over-protecting Catherine. He doesn’t like her dressing-up herself, which could be seen as something that young girls usually do in the eyes of the audience. But others might also argue that he’s just doing the job of a good uncle. However when he says “What’s the high heels for garbo? “, the way he says might again make the audience take their sides. Though the word “garbo”, the audience will realise that again his feelings are wrong, this is because he compares a beautiful actress to his niece. “High heels” also shows that he doesn’t like other people seeing her in the way he does, she can look pretty in the house but in front of other men, she has to look simple.

This will also the make the audience aware of his own downfall, his feelings towards Catherine aren’t right, he tries to lead and control the situation, and this also makes the audience anticipate what’s going on between Eddie and Catherine. He also doesn’t want her to have a job. The audience understands this when he says “I know that neighbourhood B, I don’t like it”.

Eddie’s again showing his over protectiveness by not allowing Catherine to go to work. This quote again can have lots of meanings, for example, some people might think that Eddie doesn’t seem to like “Kate” to be working with other men, but others might suggest that it’s just Eddie looking at Catherine like a child, like a “kid”. Eddie definitely doesn’t want Catherine to get mixed up with men.

We see that when “Catherine waves at Louis”, Eddie seems to not like it even though Louis is just a well-known family friend. This might also be because he doesn’t like her socialising with men. He tells her that he knows stuff about Louis that she doesn’t know.

Miller also foreshadows Eddie’s end by introducing the story of Vinnie. This is the story of a young boy who snitches on his own immigrant uncle. Eddie lectures Beatrice and Catherine in Act one, he says “Just remember, kid, you can quicker get back a million dollars that was stole than a word that you gave away”. This means that he know what the impacts will be if anyone found people at their house.

This can also be seen as ironic because he ends up doing it himself just like the little boy so the audience might compare these two characters and decide that Eddie has the heart and brain of a kid when he phones them so he doesn’t really know what he is doing.

This quote also reveals that Eddie knows his own fate- he knows what will happen to him but cannot escape his fate. Much like Alfieri, Eddie watches himself make decisions he knows will not only ruin his reputation in the community, but also kill him.

Eddie may know the consequences of what he does, but remains powerless or too mad to stop it. Miller sets up Eddie so vehemently against betrayal that his transition on the betrayer seems illogical, so this is another way in which Miller makes the audience aware of the tragic ending, he makes Eddie go to his extremes and the audience will just have to watch the consequences.