In this essay I will be discussing the way that Arthur Miller creates the expectation of tragedy and disaster in the play ‘A View From The Bridge’. I will be looking at the language used, the actions of the characters and the stage directions, which play a significant part in this play. The play is set in the late 1940s in Brooklyn, New York.
The Carbone family live in a small, terraced house by the harbour, where Eddie works. Beatrice is Eddie’s wife and Catherine is their niece whom they adopted after her parents died.
The play is about the story of the Carbone family housing some immigrants from Sicily (also Beatrice’s cousins) and the problems that occur within the family. When watching this play we soon establish that it is set in the Greek tragedy genre because it follows the key points these stories follow.
In Greek tragedies the outcome is always bad (Eddie dies), there is usually conflict with its hero (Eddie against Marco and Rodolfo), there is sometimes a chorus, (Alfieri talks to the audience after important events), death of central character (Eddie) and finally some fatal flaw in the character’s personality (Eddie and his over possessive attitude towards Catherine and his indirect love for her).
These points develop as the play continues so by the end you can almost tell the outcome, it is inevitable that Eddie will loose the battle.
When watching the play, the first time we pick up on a point that portrays tragedy is at the beginning in Alfieri’s opening speech.
He tells the audience he is a lawyer and that lawyers are connected with bad luck-‘I am a lawyer. In this neighbourhood to meet a lawyer or a priest on the street is unlucky. We’re only thought of in connection with disaster, and they’d rather not get too close. ‘ This makes the audience think, if a lawyer is involved, something bad must happen. At the end of his speech he introduces Eddie, but refers to him in the past-‘This one’s name was Eddie Carbone.’
As he is referring Eddie as someone in the past then it appears to the audience that Eddie is dead. After hearing Alfieri talk of lawyers being bad luck, the audience might link the disaster that lawyers bring, to Eddie being referred to in the past. A very important part of this play is the relationship between Eddie and Catherine. If you weren’t to know they were uncle and niece, your first impression is they may be lovers or something similar. As Catherine enters and greets Eddie the stage directions state ‘Eddie is pleased, and therefore shy about it.’
As Eddie is shy about seeing Catherine, it appears he has more than appropriate feelings an uncle should have for a niece. Catherine seeks Eddie’s approval and obviously cares what he thinks, she asks him if he likes her new clothes and her hair, then stage directions tell us she is ‘almost in tears because he disapproves. ‘ During the play Catherine’s attitude towards Eddie is quite important. Catherine acts immaturely and childishly towards Eddie-‘She sits on her heels beside him. ‘ And in return Eddie treats Catherine like a child-‘You’re a baby, you don’t understand these things.’
When Catherine asks Eddie about her job, beforehand Beatrice and Catherine are very nervous about telling him. At first Eddie doesn’t want to hear about Catherine’s job and refuses to let her do it. He states all of the things he wants for Catherine not taking into consideration what she wants-‘I want you to be with a different kind of people, I want you to be in a nice office. ‘ These two points create expectations in the audience because we can see there is something going on between Catherine and Eddie. Eddies overprotective attitude is clear immediately and we realise there is something other than a niece-uncle relationship.
If Eddie continues to be too overprotective he will loose Catherine, this may become clear to the audience that Eddie’s attitude will eventually destroy his and Catherine’s relationship. Eddie and Beatrice tell Catherine about a boy who ‘snitched’ on his own uncle to immigration, Eddie is outraged by this, and lectures Catherine beforehand how she is never to do such a thing. ‘Him, you’ll never see him no more, a guy do a thing like that. ‘ Eddie tells Catherine. He tells how the boy was rejected by his own family.
This point is not so significant now, but later in the play it becomes more important after Eddie reports Marco and Rodolfo to immigration. We also pick up that Eddie tells Beatrice to tell Catherine most of the story, as if it was an indirect threat-‘Tell her about Vinny. ‘ Marco and Rodolfo arrive. As soon as we see Rodolfo take off his hat, we see his blond hair. Immediately we think how he does not fit in with his Italian roots-traditional black or brown hair and dark skin. Maybe we subconsciously get the impression he is slightly different. ‘How comes your so light and he’s so dark Rodolfo. ‘ Catherine says to him.
Catherine appears quite interested in Rodolfo, ‘You’re married too? No? ‘ This we can predict will not go down well with Eddie. Soon Eddie starts to direct his questions and conversation towards Marco, practically ignoring Rodolfo, stage directions read, ‘He is coming more and more to address Marco. ‘ When Rodolfo sings Jazz to Catherine she is clearly very impressed by this- ‘Let him finish, its beautiful. ‘ When Rodolfo sings, he sings about possession, which is relevant to the situation, but not necessarily obvious to the audience at this point. ‘Its tough to love a girl that’s not your own…
I’m gonna buy a paper doll I can call my own,’ Rodolfo sings. Eddie makes an excuse to stop Rodolfo singing, but it appears to the audience his motive is to with him hating Catherine’s attraction to Rodolfo at this point-‘Hey kid, wait a minute. ‘ ‘We never had no singers here… and all of a sudden there’s a singer in the house, y’know what I mean? ‘ Eddie then makes it clear to Catherine he doesn’t want her impressing Rodolfo by telling her to take her high heels off-‘What’s the high heels for, Garbo? ‘ At the end of this scene Catherine and Rodolfo begin to flirt with each other-Catherine, ‘You like sugar?’ Rodolfo, ‘sugar? Yes! I like sugar very much!’
This long section creates expectations in the audience because we can see something happening between Rodolfo and Catherine and we know this is going to trouble Eddie very much-stage directions state ‘… his face puffed with trouble. ‘ We can predict something bad is going to happen because of Eddie’s feelings towards Catherine, which are obviously going to be un-returned. When Eddie sees the chemistry between Catherine and Rodolfo, it will only antagonise his feelings further. Alfieri confirms this in a brief speech to the audience-‘There was a trouble that would not go away.’
The next scene opens with Eddie waiting outside their house for Catherine, to get back from a date with Rodolfo. Beatrice goes outside and talks to Eddie. She directly tells him that she thinks he is jealous of the couple-‘Your just jealous. ‘ Eddie talks of how Rodolfo sings on the ships, say that he embarrasses himself-‘Paper Doll they’re callin’ him, Canary. He’s like a weird. He comes out on the pier, one-two-three, it’s a regular free show. ‘ It appears that Eddie is indirectly calling Rodolfo gay. Beatrice then goes on to talk to him about their relationship.
She is worried about the physical side of their relationship-When am I going to be your wife again, Eddie? ‘ Eddie claims he hasn’t been feeling to good, he is uncomfortable with the subject-‘I aint been feelin’ good,’ ‘I got nothin’ to say about it! ‘ In my opinion I think Eddie’s excuse of not feeling too good, is true, only because he has feelings for Catherine only it appears he doesn’t know that, it’s a subconscious feeling. The audience may pick this up, causing more expectations of disaster because Beatrice and Eddie’s marriage is slightly unstable.
👋 Hi! I’m your smart assistant Amy!
Don’t know where to start? Type your requirements and I’ll connect you to an academic expert within 3 minutes.get help with your assignment