Arthur Miller wrote ‘A View from the Bridge in 1955. The structure of this play is relatively straightforward. It is set in the late 1940 amoung the Sicilian community in Brooklyn, New York ‘the slum that faces the bay on the seaward side of Brooklyn Bridge’. It is said to be a modern version of a Greek tragedy with its powerful speeches and references to fate. A lawyer, Alfieri re-tells his account as he ‘oversee the events that take place.
There are six main characters, five of which that live in the Carbones’ household. It is in this houses dining room where the main focus of the action occurs. The street outside the Carbones’ home in also where the action happens, this is represented so the audience are made aware of both the public and private affairs in which the action in set, also it allows us to see the Carbones’ as part of the wider community, especially towards the end of the play where their private tragedy becomes into the public eye. Throughout this essay I will discuss how Arthur Miller makes the end of act one interesting for his audience.
Eddie Carbone is at heart a simple, generous, straightforward man who works on the pier when there was work and he takes his pay home to feed his wife Beatrice and niece Catherine. However this is the public context, this is the personality that Eddie’s neighbours and friends see, whereas in the private context, which the audience reveal early on into the play, we discover Eddie’s obsession towards his niece Catherine, whose maturity and ‘need’ for independence is growing. However the more Catherine wants her independence and to experience the world Eddie’s protectiveness grows more and more into a fixation to keep her near him. Will Eddie’s emotions take over?
Beatrice Carbone is Eddie’s wife; she is a loving, caring wife to Eddie. Beatrice is Catherine’s key to open the locked doors of reality kept locked by Eddie. She is a typical wife; she cooks, cleans and looks after her family. Throughout the play we establish Beatrice’s concern about Eddies feelings towards his niece Catherine develop, also we unravel Beatrice’s jealously towards Eddie and Catherine’s relationship.
Catherine Carbone is the niece to Eddie and Beatrice. She is a young loving girl of seventeen who is eager to experience the world, she is a loving young girl who will lighten up any heart she comes across, however she has no experience of life in the real world and the only thing stopping her discover this is her uncle Eddie. Catherine is unaware of Eddie’s feelings towards her as she is naive about relationships, and has been influenced by Eddie all her life, and he has always been there for her.
Marco and Rodolfo are the cousins of Beatrice that once lived in Italy, which also have illegally come into America to find work to make a decent wage. Marco is the stronger and more focused brother; he is responsible and has a strong sense of justice. The audience clearly can see that Marco thinks before he acts, as he doesn’t want Eddie to get upset and kick them out, he tells Rodolfo not to behave in the manner that will upset Eddie.
Whereas Rodolfo is the attractive, humorous, talented cousin that Catherine rapidly falls in love with and Rodolfo’s love for Catherine is genuine and very powerful. However the roles between the brothers soon change as at the end of the play we see Rodolfo have the vision that sees what terrible consequences will become of Marco’s actions and Eddie’s battle of will. This shows the audience how Rodolfo is a sensitive, intelligent man who feels a sense of responsibility for those he cares about.
Alfieri is a narrator, observer and also a character in the play itself. The play opens with Alfieri introducing himself and the time at which the play is set, by the end of Alfieri’s first speech, the audience distinguish that there will be a tense situation leading to a ‘bloody’ conclusion, although Alfieri can sense this terrible event he is powerless to prevent the incident occurring. He opens into graphic detail about past bandits and murders and about how justice is very important to the Italians.
The community is the ‘gullet of New York, which is ‘swallowing the tonnage of the world. This sentence is relatively ironic seeing that Red Hook is a fishing town and ‘tonnage’ is another word for cargo. Alfieri also expresses an intriguing statement, “now we settle for half.” this declaration gives the impression that in this Italian community pride and justice is fierce and that no one will settle for half of what they believe is right. Alfieri makes this statement in the past tense leaving the question did the events that Alfieri witness determine whether people settle for half. Alfieri also provides the audience with information and advice throughout the play and most of all explains the law and its boundaries. He also informs us that the law is limited and isn’t able to deal with every human problem.
Act one is where all the tension builds up which later on leads to a tragic end in act two. In act one we learn of Eddie’s abnormal feelings towards Catherine, and Beatrice’s noticeable jealously towards Catherine and Eddie’s bond. The play introduces us to a normal household, with a loving atmosphere, however this quickly changes on the arrival of Beatrice’s cousins from Italy, Marco and Rodolfo, this is also when we discover characters inner feelings. As Rodolfo rapidly falls in love with Catherine, and his genuine love is returned by her true love, Eddie’s calm loving personality disappears and he becomes indestructible and obsessive about his feelings towards Catherine, as he realises he is not her number one man in her life anymore.