A View From The Bridge”, written by a leading American playwright, Arthur Miller, is a relatively short play consisting of only two Acts which shows the reluctance of a “father” to let go of his “daughter”. Eddie Carbone, the main character, is faced with a decision as to whether to let his “daughter”, Catherine go, or to betray her “sub-marine” (immigrant) boyfriend to the Immigration Bureau.
Consequently breaking the Sicilian honour code by betraying his wife’s cousin (Catherine’s boyfriend Rodolfo) and risk losing the respect of not only his family, but the whole community which eventually leads to his own death. The play deals with difficult issues such as how immigrants are forced to compromise their values so that they can live peacefully, however Miller knows that it isn’t always as simple as that, as his parents were in fact immigrants so he would have grown up watching their struggle between their own culture and their adopted American culture.
In addition, Miller himself worked as a “ship lifter” for two years in Brooklyn, where he liaised with the Italian workers, during this time he gained knowledge of their way of life and the structure of their society. He also heard of a similar circumstance where a man betrays his family in order to keep his daughter at home with him. This personal experience gives “A View From The Bridge” an authentic yet poignant representation of Sicilian values and the clash with the immigrants adopted American values that his parents and co-workers must have felt all along.
These feelings are expressed throughout the play by a lawyer named Alferi who talks directly to the audience in a monologue to break up and signify the stages which lead to Eddie Carbone’s betrayal. This play conveys the struggle within Eddie Carbone, and with his death Miller painfully reminds us that “It is better to settle for half, it must be! ” Eddie and Catherine have a typical father-daughter relationship despite the fact that Catherine is actually his niece.
We can see his overprotective nature very early in the first act where he refers to her skirt as being “too short”. This exchange shows how he sees her; as his little girl rather than a young woman of 17, he instinctively feels the need to protect her, he does not want to see her grow up and this fear of losing her only adds to his reluctancy to let her become a woman and lead her own life. Eddie then continues to tell her how she is “walking wavy” and how heads of local men “are turnin’ like windmills”.
This again conveys Eddie’s fatherly nature and reluctance to accept that she is a young woman. She then breaks down almost in tears [at his disapproval], this shows her naivety and craving for her “father’s” approval even though she is seventeen and she should be able to wear whatever she likes. This can give us some possible insight into why Eddie treats her like a child. In addition towards the end of Act 1, Beatrice (Eddie’s wife) tells Catherine how she [throws herself] at him like [she was] twelve years old, this can show us why Eddie still treats her “like a baby”.
These harsh words from Beatrice hit home with Catherine and awaken the desire inside her to go out to the world of work and fend for herself, which she reveals to Eddie later on in the play, with a devastating effect. Shortly after this conversation Eddie drops a bombshell; that the two immigrants, Beatrice’s cousins Marco and Rodolfo, have arrived in the country; consequently all the issues are pushed under the carpet so as not to upset the visitors. The first, Marco, faces no problems, only admiration for his strong work ethic and commitment to his starving family.
However the younger of the two brothers, the “Blond” Rodolfo receives a mixed response; he seems to be well liked by everyone apart from Eddie, who is uneasy with Rodolfo’s apparent lack of masculinity. In addition to this, Eddie also finds the fact that Catherine and Rodolfo seem to get on well hard to cope with as he feels that she is being taken away from him. We can see very early on that there is the potential for a relationship between the two when she immediately asks him if he is “married? ” Rodolfo also refers to her as “beautiful”. This shows the light hearted and flirty relationship which is built on and results in them dating.
Consequently Eddie and Catherine start to drift further and further apart, which leads to Eddie resenting Rodolfo for taking Catherine away from him, he even refers to him as a “God dam thief! ” This suggests that Catherine is his possession and that this argument is all because of Eddie’s pride and honour. Therefore Eddie and Rodolfo, to a certain extent have a difficult and somewhat awkward relationship, Eddie cannot face the fact that Catherine has found someone else to rely on and to make matters worse the new “submarine” is allegedly only interested in Catherine for his “papers” so he can claim residency in America.