How does Miller present ideas about reputation in A View from the Bridge? Essay
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In A View from the Bridge, Miller portrays many ideas about reputation, especially in the battle for reputation between the two main men of the play, Eddie and Marco. He also showcases the way in which a failure to settle for half in maintaining one’s reputation can lead to downfall, and also portrays the way in which not conforming to stereotypes can lead to people not taking you seriously, thereby leading to a ruining of your reputation.
Initially, Miller portrays reputation as a very important part of the Italian Moral Code, and showcases how ruining someone’s reputation can be punished very harshly in by Sicilian Morals.
After Eddie reports on Marco, Marco is seen to say ‘In my country, he would be dead’, due to Eddie ruining Marco’s reputation, and, as Marco puts it ‘degrading my brother and removing my children’. The fact that Eddie would receive this harsh a punishment, for simply abiding by the law shows how seriously reputation is taken in Sicilian morals, and how derogatory it is for someone’s reputation to be ruined.
Eddie also is shown by Miller to be concerned about his reputation, because he states that ‘Marco’s got my name’, and that ‘he gonna give it back to me in front of this neighbourhood’. This goes to shows how, in a primarily Italian community, one’s reputation can have severe implications on how someone is treated within society. This can also be seen through the narrative parallel of the story of Vinny Bolzano, who was shunned by society for informing upon his own uncle, and thereby losing his ‘reputation’. Through this, Miller portrays the importance of someone’s reputation in other cultures, and this would have been fairly striking to the contemporary American audience.
Furthermore, Miller portrays how a failure to settle for half in keeping your reputation leads to downfall. Throughout the play, Marco is portrayed as settling for half, except at the end of the play, where in his opinion, he has option but to kill Eddie. When Marco has just arrived at Eddie’s house, he belittles his own reputation, saying ‘when you say go, we go’, showing how he recognises Eddie as the master of the household, and that he settles for simply being a visitor. Later in the novel however, when Eddie tries to prove his strength against Marco, Marco is said to have ‘raised the chair like a weapon over his head’.
This shows how Marco is now considered as Eddie’s equal or even his superior, and hints of aggression and violence are seen due to the use of the direction ‘like a weapon’, and this could possibly be used by Marco to maintain and prove his reputation against Eddie. However, at the end of this scene, the curtains close for the interval, and it can be assumed that the incident was taken no further, showing how Marco has settled for half there. At the end of the play however, Marco outright kills Eddie, and does not settle for half, as he tries to maintain his reputation, and ruin Eddies, showing how important this reputation is to them. However, through this, Miller is possibly trying to suggest that maintaining a reputation should not be a priority, and that people should be able to settle for half.
Miller also portrays the way in which one can receive a bad reputation for not following stereotypes. Eddie initially seems to aware of this issue, as he tells Rodolpho to ‘wait a minute’ while singing, showing how he is aware of the fact that his reputation will get damaged if he does not comply to the stereotype of a dockworker. In addition, Mike and Louis state how Rodolpho is seen as a ‘Paper Doll’, and how he has a ‘sense of humour’ and is always ‘making remarks’.
This is in distinct contrast to the ‘regular slave’ of Marco, and the fact that Marco is ‘regular’ further highlights the way in which Rodolpho is different, and ‘stands out from the crowd’, and this in turn results in the ruining of his reputation, as he is not taken seriously by any of the other characters, due to him not behaving like the stereotypical masculine 1950s man. Perhaps, Miller uses this to highlight the way in which standing out from the stereotype in contemporary society leads to this ruining of reputation.
Overall, Miller uses these ideas about reputation to contrast the Sicilian code of honour to the American culture that the contemporary audience will have been used to, and accurately showcases the importance of reputation to people from an Italian background, as well as this reputation affects how one is treated in society.