This essay will explore the theme of masculinity as presented by Eddie and Rodolpho in Arthur Miller’s play of a view from the bridge. I will do this by analysing what the male characters say, and how it shows their view of masculinity. A View From The Bridge, which was based in New York, was set in the 1950’s. During that time many Italian immigrants had fled to New York, and brought their beliefs and views with them. One of there strongest beliefs was in masculinity, which is what I will be exploring in this essay.
A stereotypical Italian family had the Male as the head of the house, with him bringing in the money and have the ultimate say in all matters. That is only the stereotype though. Different people have different views, which are affected by class, culture and education amongst others. This is shown in the play by having people with different backgrounds, having different views. Eddie is the character who seems to have the strongest views of masculinity. Firstly he shows the audience that he wants to protect his family.
The first scenario when this comes across when he is having a conversation with Catherine about what she is wearing. Eddie tells her “I think it’s too short.” This is a typical parental concern for many years and still continues within families. It shows that Eddie cares about her and doesn’t want guys staring at her. To make the message even clearer he even tells Catherine “I don’t like the looks.” Eddie is just looking out for his family and he wants the best for them.
Shortly following this discussion is when Catherine tells Eddie she has got a job. At first he is inquisitive and asks her question like “where’s the job?” and “what company?” Once again this shows his protection for his family, but when he finds out she is earning “fifty dollars a week” his tone changes. Suddenly Eddie becomes against the situation and makes excuses like he “don’t like that neighbourhood.” I believe the reason Eddie had suddenly become against the situation is because he would no longer be the main provider for the family. It shows that Catherine’s income would be more during the conversation with Marco when he says they could earn maybe “thirty, forty a week.” That is a massive dent to a proud man’s pride and masculinity.
Another thing that proves Eddie to be a masculine man is when Arthur Miller writes about his ‘rocker’. This is a rocking chair, which I believe may symbolise his throne. By having this in the story strengthens the fact that Eddie is head of the house. Finally Eddie challenged Rodolpho to some ‘friendly’ boxing. Boxing is a sport strongly associated with men due to its violence. Eddies skill at boxing is shown through Beatrice when he says, “he’s good”. This shows that Eddie has done it many times before, hence stregnthening his masculinity. Also by striking Rodolpho in the face is a warning to him, to not get on the wrong side of Eddie.
Marco didn’t like this so he challenged Eddie to lift a chair with one hand. He couldn’t do it. Then Marco lifted it and smiled “triumphantly” showing Eddie he had won. This was the first time that Eddie’s masculinity had been challenged. Throughout the play Eddie also loses some of his masculinity through various event. These first come though after the arrival of Marco and Rodolpho, when Beatrice says to him “when am I going to be a wife again,” and “it’s been 3 months.” That quote tells the audience that Eddie has not had sex for a long, which would greatly dent a male image, especially if your wife is confronting you about it.
The next blow to his masculinity came when his daughter disobeyed him. Catherine tells him “no, were doing it right away.” This is in reference to Catherine and Rodolpho getting married. As head of the house he should be in control of all situations, and having your daughter not obey you is the opposite. It once again shows more masculinity Eddie has lost. In Eddie’s view of masculinity he shows us regularly that being gay is not acceptable. This is shown to the audience by constantly by him using homophobic comments about Rodolpho i.e. “He’s like a weird” and “they callin’ him canary.” Even though he seems to have strong views against homosexuality he kisses Rodolpho. I believe he does this to challenge Rodolphos masculinity, but in doing so drastically reduces his masculine image.