In “A View From The Bridge” by Arthur Miller I believe that Eddie is the character who changes most in the course of the play. I will show this by talking about his role in the drama, the dramatic devices and use of language by Miller as well as the background and social context of the play. Eddie’s role in the play is the most vital one; he is by far the most important character in the play. It is, after all, his inability to deal with his emotions that triggers most of the story and the tragedy that unfolds. Throughout the play we see many changes in the character of Eddie.
At the beginning of the play Eddie is a respected, hard-working man who is protective and kind towards his orphaned niece Catherine. The first scene in the play demonstrates Eddie’s character clearly. He comes home from work and is greeted by an excited Catherine. One stage direction that immediately gives a feel for how Eddie feels about Catherine is “Eddie is pleased, therefore shy about it”. This shows that the simple “Hi, Eddie! ” from Catherine is enough to make him shy, almost as if he has been reduced to a ‘schoolboy crush’ state of mind.
Later in the scene he tells Catherine that he thinks her skirt is too short and that she is “walkin’ wavy. ” He gets very protective of her, saying that she is being very provocative. When Catherine says, “Them guys look at all the girls…” Eddie replies, “You ain’t all the girls. ” This adds to the impression that he wants to protect her and may have inappropriate feelings towards her. But by the end of the play Eddie no longer protects Catherine with all his strength; instead, he focuses solely on attacking Rudolfo and Marco because of his intense jealousy over Rudolfo’s relationship with Catherine.
In spite of the advice of his lawyer Alfieri to let things run their course Eddie betrays Rudolfo and Marco and in doing so loses his reputation and goes against his own moral code. In the end Eddie has almost gone mad because his friends and family have lost all respect for him and he is vainly trying to get it back. The scene I have chosen to demonstrate how much Eddie has changed is the final one in the play. It shows Eddie almost as a different person – no longer kind and protective but vengeful and bitter.
Eddie hears that Marco is on his way to confront him after being bailed out by Alfieri. He goes outside and addresses the crowd of people that has gathered because they have heard that Eddie has betrayed Marco and Rudolfo . The realization of what he has done has made Eddie go slightly mad. One stage direction says, “his eyes are murderous and he cracks his knuckles with a strange sort of relaxation. ” This shows that Eddie has come to terms with what is happening and is facing Marco even though he knows he has greater strength than him.
Throughout the play Arthur Miller uses simplistic language to demonstrate many things about Eddie. The character’s vocabulary is limited and often colloquial, this shows that Eddie has had a tough upbringing and has a hard-working life-style – he is a very ‘manly’ man. The play is based largely on Millers own experiences. The story of Eddie’s betrayal of his cousins is based on a longshoreman Miller heard about during his own two years working on the docks of Brooklyn. Whilst there, he also heard about a friend’s dream where the friend had an attraction to his niece.
Miller believed that the dream revealed a desire to have relations with the niece. Miller used his own experiences a lot when writing his plays which give them a truthful feel. Eddie’s simple direct language is not shown as a negative thing however – it demonstrates what a powerful character he is and how he is perceived by those around him. Because he is the head of the household, he does not need to ask people to listen, he simply talks to the family using direct, blunt language and they listen.
He is Catherine’s guardian (he also has inappropriate feelings for her). This role makes him all the more important because, Catherine is the second most important character in the play. When Eddie challenges Rodolfo to a casual boxing lesson and uses the opportunity to punch him. This is Eddie’s way of showing Rodolfo and Catherine that he has the most power in the household – but he then abuses it. The play is also an accurate projection of 1940s Red Hook, the slum where the Carbones live and the play is set.
Eddie and his family are just like most families in Red Hook, they should be viewed as regular members of the wider community, even when the tragedy that occurs within the confines of their family is spilled into the community of Red Hook and becomes a public affair. In conclusion I believe that Eddie has changed the most because at the beginning of the play, he represents a good and a respectable man, but at the end, he has been reduced to the ruins of what was once an honorable man. It is Eddie’s good values at the beginning of the play that cause us to admire him.
One of these was being so averse to what the boy did in the Vinnie Bolzano story. However, through his actions in calling immigration and telling them about Rodolfo and Marco he loses the respect and sympathy of those around him. The aspects of Eddie that made him the good, strong man he was in the beginning of the play were changed by Rodolfo and Catherine’s love for each other. By the end of ‘A View From the Bridge’ we see that even a man as strong and reliable as Eddie can be completely transformed and distorted by the illicit love and jealousy that he feels for Catherine.