“A View from the Bridge” Essay
“A View from the Bridge”
There are a few interpretations of what the title could mean: an overview, a bridge between characters, Catherine’s bridge between girl and woman, a bridge between two worlds (America and Italy) and Eddie’s change of character.
Alfieri is an outsider, his view is ‘from the bridge’; he comments on Eddies’ progress as a storyteller,
“I could have finished the whole story that afternoon…I could see every step coming.” (p50)
This is what Alfieri says after Eddie comes to see him. He is the narrator and is quite similar to the chorus in a Greek Tragedy.
Characters also make ‘bridges’ or connections between other characters. For example, throughout the first act we see that Beatrice is the bridge between Catherine and Eddie and she still is on page 80 when she insists that Eddie attend the wedding when Catherine does not care. Also, Eddie dislikes Rodolpho and Catherine bridges that gap and tries to persuade Eddie to her point of view,
“What’re you got against him?…He only blesses you.”(40)
Catherine’s growing up is a bridge as well:
“I’m not a baby…Beatrice says to be a woman,” (62)
In this scene she also asks Rodolpho to teach her and they venture towards the bedroom, she emerges to speak to Eddie adjusting her dress. An innocence of virginity is seen. The audience also sees a bridge in Catherine’s job (18), with her growing up and changing from the rough area of the docks to something more ‘up market’.
The title could also mean bridging the gap between two cultures, America and Italy. The Italian way of life is very much based on unwritten rules of honour and trust, the American justice system is written in stone,
“MARCO:…All the law is not in a book.
ALFIERI: Yes. In a book. There is no other law.” (78)
Eddie lived an Italian/American way of life, Alfieri says in the first scene that the law was often broken for ‘justice’ (12); Eddie does not want this for Catherine, he wants her to have The American Dream – going from poor slums to rich and successful in one generation.
The American culture of Brooklyn generates from the dirty docks. The bad living conditions and poor way of life do not seem fit for Catherine and Eddie wants to change that. Eddie and his longshoremen friends are very hard in there own way, they have very good intents, but their way of going about it shows very little awareness of the outside world. The troubles of the whole play originated from the docks and Eddie’s generosity in taking the Italians in to stay. This is illegal and he is bringing back the culture that Alfieri introduces as having changed for the better,
“Now we settle for half [the law] and I like it better.”(12)
Eddie at the start of the play is very hard-working and protective; he wants Catherine to have the American Dream that he never had; he is generous – he lets the cousins come to stay, caring and sensitive; he has the Italian values of loyalty and the family as one being. This changes through the play. The audience sees his change of character in such things as the threat from Rodolpho and his brother. On page 27 Eddie disagrees with Marco’s offer that “If you say ‘go’, we go.” On page 48 Eddie refuses Alfieri’s idea that the only way to rid himself of the threat of Rodolpho is to report them: “Oh Jesus no, I wouldn’t do nothin’ like that…” On page 67 he finally rings Immigration to report his cousins, a change of attitude completely. This change is the ‘bridge’ in Eddie’s story.