Greek tragedy Essay
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A view from the bridge is a powerful play about two immigrants that cross the American border from Italy, illegally. The play is set in the nineteen thirties to the nineteen fifties right after the Second World War. It also has striking similarities with Greek tragedy, being linear and having a chorus, or narrator (Alfieri). Eddie, the tragic protagonist has a fatal flaw (his improper love of, and almost obsession with, Catherine) and the final climax at the end of the play is another feature of this style.
Alfieri plays a huge part in maintaining the audiences’ dramatic interest; he is like the chorus in a Greek tragedy always reminding the audience of the tragedy. He holds the play together without actually taking much part in the action, however his real job is to unfold the play to the audience, he influences our audience and keeps us hooked onto the play, as though it was a cliff-hanger, the audience, including me, believe Alfieri because he is a lawyer and he knows the most.
The bridge represents Alfieri, he is a link between Italians and Americans, Eddie and Rodolpho, he has equal opinions on them both and does not take sides; he is very un-bias. It seems that Alfieri is drowned in stress and needs someone to talk to that is why he talks to the audience at certain intervals of the play. It’s also as though Alfieri is retelling the play as he mostly speaks in past tense. Alfieri really begins to introduce drama to the play in his chat with Eddie before the boxing scene; this is a really tense conversation between them both as Eddie starts to reveal his true feelings for Catherine without realising himself.
You also begin to realise how easily the situation is flowing when Alfieri redeems himself powerless to stop anything from happening. Alfieri makes us feel as though there will be a terrible ending, ‘I watched it coming, step after step’, this makes the audience feel as though there will be a violent ending. This creates dramatic irony as we know something the characters don’t; also building tension and suspense the longer we wait for the dramatic climax of the play. Eddie Carbone plays the largest part in creating drama before the end of act one, he creates conflict and reveals his hate for Rodolpho.
On the other hand Marco develops his understanding that Eddie doesn’t approve of Rodolpho’s feelings for Catherine. Eddie likes to assert himself as the alpha male, and a man in Eddies eyes is a hard working, physically strong family man, and Marco has all of these features, he is working hard to support his family and when he lifts the chair that Eddie cannot, this shows that Marco is physically strong, and it seems Eddie respects Marco, but sees him as a threat to his position in the Carbone family. Eddie also finds other ways to create drama in the scene.
‘Lemons are green’ is the small contribution that Rodolpho makes to the conversation between Marco and Eddie, Eddies reply towards Rodolpho, ‘I know lemons are green, for Christ sake’ is quite vicious and makes it quite obvious he doesn’t like Rodolpho and makes it quite awkward for Marco to talk to Eddie as though nothing is wrong. This adds some tension to the scene. Also, Eddie begins to imply that Rodolpho ‘ain’t right’, this quite obviously means that Eddie think Rodolpho is gay when really he is just looking for any excuse for Catherine not to be with him.
During the long talk about Rodolpho’s skills and attributes Eddie says ‘But if I could cook, if I could sing, if I could make dresses, I wouldn’t be on the water-front’ and ‘I would be like in a dress store’. In the actual play Eddie repeats the first sentence three times, as though an obvious attempt to stress to his family that he ‘ain’t right’. You can tell this by what he says after ‘I would be like in a dress store’, this is blatantly a woman’s job however cooking, singing and dancing was considered gay in the 1950’s.
You can see that Marco is unimpressed by what Eddie is trying to imply. ‘[Uneasily]. This stage direction proves that Marco’s reaction to what he has implied about his brother is negative and he is uneasy to talk to Eddie at all, or that he knows what is coming when Eddie asks ‘What do you say, Marco, we go to the bouts next Saturday night. You never seen a fight, did you? ‘ Eddies mind is also quite obviously filled with violence and hatred, and it is blatant that he purposely wants Rodolpho to fight because he asks him after having the opportunity to ask his brother first.
This also creates tension in the scene as we know what it is all building up too and we are eager to see how it unfolds. Furthermore, during the fight Eddie says to Rodolpho ‘ It also seems that Eddie’s sexual jealousy has coloured his thoughts as he chooses to insult Marco by implying that his wife is cheating whilst he works in America, this is a very tense moment as we are unaware of how Marco will react to this comment and how this may affect his relationship with Eddie, this furthermore builds tension in the scene.
Eddie also feels betrayed by Catherine, he has raised her as his own and he treats her like his daughter, he feels that by Catherine wanting to marry Rodolpho and living her own life that she is being ungrateful for all that he has done for her. He feels that Catherine owes him a living. All the way during the boxing scene, you get this vivid sense of pressure building up in Eddie. It seems to me that Eddie offers Rodolpho to a boxing match to release his anger after watching him and Catherine dance to a very symbolic song, paper doll.
When Eddie first asks Rodolpho to dance, strong tension is built within the audience, because we have already been hinted by Alfieri that something bad is going to happen, and this is the ideal moment for this to happen. Eddie says to Rodolpho, ‘Come on kid, you can’t hurt me’. This is ironic because although Rodolpho may not possess the strength to physically hurt Eddie, his is causing him mass amounts of emotional pain, just sharing feelings with Catherine. The stage directions also have a huge effect in this part of the play, ‘He has bent the rolled paper and it suddenly tears in two’.
This tells the audience that Eddie has had enough of Rodolpho, and that all his anger and true feelings for Catherine are boiling over. Also this hints to the Audience that something bad is about to happen, because Eddie twisting the newspaper in two pieces shows that it has all become too much for him and he has to let his anger out. This creates dramatic tension within the audience as we wait for something to happen. The way Catherine acts towards Eddie could have triggered this sudden outburst; normally Catherine is really obedient towards Eddie and does what he says, she sees him as her father and him his daughter.