Note how Marco realises what Eddie is trying to do, so he challenges Eddie to a chair lifting contest, showing Eddie he isn’t the strongest man around. Act I ends on a dramatic note with Marco triumphantly lifting the chair above Eddie’s head ‘like a weapon’, giving us a parallel with the end of Act II, when Marco again defeats Eddie in a physical struggle. 16. The Catherine – Rodolpho – Eddie Triangle A highly dramatic scene In another highly dramatic scene, when a drunk Eddie returns home to find Rodolpho and Catherine emerging from the bedroom, he attempts to humiliate Rodolpho in two ways:
First he kisses him full on the mouth, implying to Catherine that Rodolpho is gay.
Then he kisses Catherine passionately himself (this first expression of his true feelings for her probably happens because the drink has reduced his inhibitions) to try to show Rodolpho that Catherine is already his (Eddie’s) and not available. Kissing Catherine marks the point of no return for Eddie.
He could no longer disguise his passion for her and he realises, after this scene, that, if he forces Rodolpho out of the flat, Catherine will leave with her fianci?? so he will need to do something drastic if he is to prevent their marriage.
In desperation Eddie goes to Alfieri, the lawyer, to ask if there is anything which can be done legally to prevent the marriage. Eddie says of Rodolpho; ” the guy ain’t right”. Alfieri informs Eddie that there is nothing the law can do.
However, the obsessed, tortured Eddie remembers there is one thing he can do if he is prepared to pay the price. The Conclusion. Realising that there is nothing the law can do to prevent the marriage of Rodolpho and Catherine, Eddie remembers Alfieri’s words. The lawyer had told him that the only thing he could do to prevent the marriage
would be to report to the Immigration Service that he had two illegal immigrants in his house. To do this would amount to a betrayal of his wife, his family and his community and he would be an outcast, shunned by everyone. In schools, pupils who ‘grass’ on others are despised, so you can imagine what Eddie would have to endure Alfieri had warned Eddie what would happen if he phoned: “You won’t have a friend in the world, Eddie. Even those who understand will turn against you. Put it out if your mind. ”
But he can’t. The rest of the play shows what desperate measures a human being is prepared to take when he (or she) is in the grip of a great passion or obsession. Eddie has lost control of himself. His brain and common sense have been overwhelmed by his physical and emotional desires even to the point of self- destruction. It is frightening to watch and shows us that a passion, if strong enough, can lead us to betray our community and friends. It is Eddie’s bad luck that two other illegal immigrants, relations of Lipari, the butcher, have moved into the flat above without his knowing. When he gives the address to the Immigration Service it means he has betrayed these men too and it makes his rejection by his community certain.
Marco spitting in Eddie’s face and naming him as the betrayer are important acts in marking Eddie as a social outcast. The final section of the play opens poignantly with Eddie “alone in the rocker, rocking back and forth”, emphasising his isolation from his family and community. He reminds me of a wounded lion still trying to prove he is powerful. On the day of Catherine and Rodolpho’s wedding (emphasising that his act of betrayal had not managed to achieve his aim of destroying their relationship), he is still trying to exert his authority over Beatrice. Eddie: “You walk out that door to that wedding you ain’t coming back here Beatrice. ”
Beatrice: “Why? What do you want? ” Eddie: “I want my respect. Didn’t you ever hear of that? From my wife. ” Probably because he knows in his heart that he has lost it, Eddie is preoccupied in these final moments of the play with having respect from his wife and from the community. Catherine tells him openly that he has lost the right to any respect but Beatrice still seems to want to obey and love him. Beatrice says one very important thing, which makes us think hard about the events in the play: “Whatever happened we all done it, and don’t you ever forget it, Catherine.
” Beatrice certainly doesn’t believe that Eddie is the only one to blame. Do you? There is an important conversation between Marco (awaiting his deportation trial) and Alfieri in prison. You will remember that Eddie was amazed that the law was powerless to stop Rodolpho marrying Catherine; Marco is equally astounded that there is no law to punish Eddie for his betrayal which, as Marco puts it, ” degraded my brother. My blood. He robbed my children, he mocks my work. ” Marco realises that, as his family have been insulted, he has a duty, under the code of vendetta, to satisfy the family’s honour by gaining revenge on Eddie.
So Marco, despite promises to the contrary, seeks out Eddie as soon as he is let out of prison to await his trial. It is easy to miss one significant point. Rodolpho mentions to Eddie that Marco ” is coming. He’s praying in the church”. Part of the ritual of the vendetta was that the person prayed for God’s help and for success in the act of vengeance. It is interesting that murder for revenge was seen not as an act of unjustified violence but divine justice, doing what the law was unable to do. You will note that Marco says, of Eddie, to Alfieri: ” In my country he would be dead now. He would not live this long. ”
Those who violate the community’s code face the prospect of revenge from the family of the victim. We have learned enough about Eddie to know that he will not try to escape when he knows Marco is coming, although Rodolpho, Beatrice and Catherine urge him to do so. Eddie would have considered this cowardice and he is also determined to make Marco apologise for spitting in his face and making his public accusation of betrayal. Eddie probably knows that he faces a life of loneliness and of being shunned by his community. To him such a life would not be worth living and he would rather risk death in a confrontation with Marco
in the hope of perhaps regaining his good name by making Marco apologise. It is a faint hope, but Eddie has to cling to it. In the event, Marco merely repeats his accusations and, in the ensuing fight, kills Eddie. It is a powerful, dramatic ending to the play. The audience is left with many thoughts. Alfieri proclaims Eddie’s epitaph: “He would not settle for half, whereas most of the time, in these civilised days, most of us do. ” Throughout the play, Eddie has refused to compromise, whereas most of us do, most of the time.
He is driven to his death by this aspect of his personality,because of his own, however has refused to accept the fact that he is powerless to prevent his niece from loving someone else and cannot accept that the law is sometimes unable to provide what he, Eddie, considers to be justice. Speaking of Eddie’s death, Arthur Miller wrote in the preface to the play: “We are in the presence of a character who is ready to lay down his life, if need be, to secure one thing – his sense of personal dignity and to gain his rightful position in society.
He refuses to remain passive in the face of what he conceives to be a challenge to his dignity. Only the passive, only those who accept their lot without active retaliation, are ‘flawless’. Most of us are in that category. ” Eddie, then, is an exceptional man, more prepared to press things to the limit than most of us are. All works of literature have a number of themes. These are ideas which the author has which she or he wants to share with the audience or with readers, for us to think about. So what are the main themes of A View from the Bridge? Betrayal Arthur Miller was particularly interested in what makes a person (in this case, Eddie) betray the trust even of people he loves and of the community in which she or he lives.
In most cases it is passion (often sexual desire)which leads a person into betrayal. Eddie betrays Marco, Rodolpho, Lipari’s relations and their families when he telephones the Immigration Service. He betrays Beatrice’s love for him by his passion for her niece. He also betrays Catherine’s love for him as a father-figure and he betrays his own principles, all because he is in the grip of his strong sexual passion. Illusions Many of Miller’s characters suffer from illusions about what the world is like. This eventually leads to some lack of reality about the nature of the world.
Eddie’s great illusion is that he can keep Catherine as a ‘baby’ all her life and prevent her having contact with the more unpleasant aspects of life. He also seems to have illusions about what a dangerous world it is and how untrustworthy people are. You may remember the rather cynical advice he gave Catherine: “Don’t trust nobody. Believe me, Katie, the less you trust, the less you be sorry. ” The great irony is that Eddie is the one who is less worthy of trust than anyone in the play.
Reputation and Community Many of us are content if we believe we have acted properly. If our own conscience is satisfied, we do not worry unnecessarily what others think of us. For many of Arthur Miller’s heroes, including Eddie, this is not enough. They need to have the community’s approval and respect. You will remember Eddie’s comment when he is being urged to run from Marco. Eddie says: “I want my name. ” In order to live happily, Eddie needs his good name restored. Many of Miller’s heroes, including Eddie, would rather die than lose their good name with the rest of the community. Law and Justice A View from the Bridge makes us think about the issues of law and justice. The character,
Alfieri, despite knowing in his heart about the probable tragic ending, is unable to do anything because the law is not adequate to deal with the strongest of human emotions. Neither is the law the same as justice. Marco believes that justice would be for Eddie to die because he has, in effect, caused Marco’s family to starve. Yet the American law approves of Eddie’s action in reporting illegal immigrants. Miller, therefore, makes us question whether the law of a country is concerned with justice. The law of the government may be different from the law of the community in keeping the law of the country.
Try to think of it in terms of schools. There are the rules (laws) made by the teachers; don’t misbehave in class etc. , and the rules of the pupils; don’t grass on your friends. Keeping the ‘laws’ of the teachers may cause you to break the ‘laws’ of the pupils, and vice versa. The Importance of Fate There seems to be little to be done to avoid the tragedy of Eddie’s death. It all seems predestined because of the situation Eddie is in and the powerful emotions he has. Miller makes us think about the extent to which human beings are able to control events. Certainly the intelligent Alfieri is incapable of preventing the tragedy.
The Style of the Play. There are a few important points: The importance of conflict Note how many conversations in the play have two or more characters in conflict over an issue. This gives the play more energy. Dramatic moments Note how the conversations are broken up by scenes of dramatic action: e. g. the lifting of the chair the kissing scene the boxing scene the fight at the end of the play This means the audience’s emotions fluctuate; quiet moments of conversation are broken up by sections of action which raise the emotions of the audience. Links with Greek tragedies.