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How does Arthur Miller portray and link the themes of Manliness, Hostility and Aggression in ‘A View From The Bridge’. ‘A View From The Bridge is a play written in 1955 by Arthur Miller, originally a one act play it was extended to a two act play to make it more human and sympathetic. The play is set in Red Hook, Brooklyn, a very poor area described by the plays narrator, Alfieri as ‘The slum that faces the bay on the seaward side of the Brooklyn Bridge’.
Roode Hoek is the original Dutch name given to the area, settlements can be traced all the way back to the 1600’s when the Dutch began charting the Eastern seaboard.
Historically, Red Hook has been known as a bustling waterfront community and to this day retains much of its working class values. ‘A View From The Bridge’ was inspired by a story Miller heard about a longshoremen who had ratted to the Immigration Bureau about two brothers, his own relatives, who were living in his very home, in order to break an engagement between one of them and his niece.
Miller heard this story when he was working on the Brooklyn Shipyard whilst trying to make a name for himself as a journalist.
Immigrants came over to try their luck in “Rich America” as Italy at the time was a very poor country; it had been in World War II and had originally fought alongside Nazi Germany. The economy was slow growing especially in the south which was less industrialised; there were no jobs and no prospects, so many left to America.
Manliness, Hostility and Aggression are key themes in A View From The Bridge, they create the drama, the action and tension between characters and create the excitement.
The ideas of manliness, hostility and aggression are connected in this play as they relate to the main character, Eddie Carbone. I am going to analyse two scenes from the play and look how the themes are portrayed and linked in each one. My two scenes which I shall analyse are (1) The scene where Eddie ‘teaches’ Rodolpho how to box, and (2) The three kisses at the beginning of Act II. I will look at how manliness, hostility and aggression are portrayed in each scene and the importance Miller gives to these themes.
Eddie, the plays protagonist, has a very particular if stereotypical view on what it means to be a man. When other characters such as Rodolpho do not conform with his ideas of manliness this leads to conflict. The three ideas often cause conflict throughout the play, they are the cause of many of the disastrous happenings and therefore they are extremely symbolic in the play. Coming from a Sicilian background, Eddie sees himself in the traditional role of the male breadwinner, the head of the household and is used to getting his own way.
However, conflict also arises when Marco conventionally demonstrates ‘masculine’ characteristics in a way which makes Eddie feel threatened. Eddie considers characteristics such as being protective, strong, tall, hard working, being able to defend and provide for oneself and ones family as characteristics a man should have. Rodolpho has qualities Eddie associates with women; he can cook, dance, sing, make dresses and also Rodolpho, unlike his brother, has bright blonde hair.
An aspect of manliness is to keep emotions bottled up, as “real men” do not show their true feelings and emotions. Eddie has done this throughout the entire play, as he was trying to be so manly. The scene I am about to analyse sees Eddie, Catherine, Rodolpho, Marco and Beatrice talking about when Marco and Rodolpho went on boats to far away countries. Beatrice and Catherine muse about the thought of sardines in the ocean, Catherine thinks the idea of sardines in the ocean is as bizarre as oranges on a tree.
Eddie agrees with her, “Yeah I know. It’s funny(To Marco)I heard that they paint the oranges to make them look orange”. Eddie rarely addresses a question or says anything to Rodolpho, as the stage direction shows; Eddie feels that Rodolpho is stealing from him as prior to this scene Eddie visited Alfieri, who told Eddie to let Catherine go. So already, there is a lot of tension mounting up between Eddie and Rodolpho. Eddie was speaking to Marco, Marco tells him that only oranges are orange and Rodolpho interrupts by saying,
“Lemons are green. ” Eddie resents Rodolpho’s interruption and replies by aggressively saying, “I know lemons are green, for Christ’s sake, you see them in the store they’re green sometimes. I said oranges they paint, I didn’t say nothin’ about lemons. ” Annoyed that Rodolpho dared try and correct him or make a fool of him. Eddie responds revealing his own ideas on men, and how women cannot be trusted. Miller shows this by the way Eddie speaks, blasphemy is used (Christ’s sake) most people only do this when they’re infuriated.
In this scene Beatrice acts as a peacemaker in a way, noticing that Eddie is getting annoyed she diverts the attention by asking Marco about his children and wife. Eddie jokingly suggests that there might be a few extra children when Marco returns to Italy, but Marco corrects him and assures him that his wife is trustworthy, not seeing anything funny about what Eddie said. Rodolpho tells Eddie that it is stricter in their town and the people are not so free. This remark infuriates Eddie, who rises and paces about the room. The stage directions show this.
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