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A View from the Bridge

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A View from the Bridge
Context
Italian Immigration
• Between 1876 to 1924, over 4.5 million Italians
arrived in the US, out of a population of only
approximately 14 million in Italy.
• Unable to earn a livelihood in their home country,
they became migratory labourers.
• The majority of Italian immigrants were men in
their teens and twenties, who planned to work,
save money and eventually return home to Italy.
• 20 to 30 percent of these Italian immigrants
returned to Italy permanently.
Italian Immigration
• After WW2, the Italian economy was slow to
grow (especially in the South)
• With no jobs and no prospects, it was not
surprising that many people decided to try their
luck in 'rich' America. There was a thriving trade
in illegal immigration, encouraged by the
dockyard owners, who knew that they could get
cheap labour from immigrants until they had paid
for their passage over. Once they had paid their
fare, the immigrants were left to make their own
way.
Treatment of Sicilians
• Many were arrested and detained under the
�Alien Registration Act’
• Accused of introducing criminal element to
America (the Mafia)
Sicilian/American Culture
• "La Familiga" (the family) was at the core of
Italian immigrant life, and often seen as the
root of survival.
• Patriarchal
• American values clashed with traditional
Italian values
A View from the Bridge
Plot
How the play opens
• Lawyer Alfieri sets the scene: talks about
justice and the law; he then introduces Eddie
• Eddie arrives home with the news that his
wives cousins from Italy (Marco and
Rodolpho) have reached New York – it is clear
that this has been arranged
• His niece, Catherine, enters and explains that
she has been offered employment – this
distresses Eddie
The Arrival of the Cousins
• When the cousins arrive they are warmly
welcomed.
• Catherine shows interest in the younger
cousin, Rodolpho, and this seems to upset
Eddie
• Catherine and Rodolpho soon fall in love and
Eddie becomes more hostile towards
Rodolpho, it is becoming clear to the audience
that Eddie has feelings towards his niece
Catherine falls for Rodolpho
• As Eddie becomes increasingly hostile towards
Rodolpho, Beatrice questions the state of their
own marriage. Eddie dismisses this and continues
to obsess over Catherine’s relationship
• Eddie finally confronts Catherine and tells her
that Rodolpho is using her.
• Beatrice tries to make Catherine stand up for
herself, and warns her to be less intmate with
Eddie
End of Act One
• Eddie goes to Alfieri for help and is amazed to
find out that Rodolpho is not breaking the law
by marrying Catherine
• Alfieri warns that Eddie loves his niece too
much
• The act ends in tension: Eddie pretends to
teach Rodolpho how to box, but it is Marco
who ends the scene by displaying his brute
strength as if to warn Eddie
Act Two
• Catherine and Rodolpho are alone in the
department, after discussing marriage (as well
as Eddie’s fears over Rodolpho’s hidden
agenda), Catherine and Rodolpho go into the
bedroom.
• Eddie returns home drunk to find the pair
leaving the bedroom.
• Aghast, Eddie reacts by kissing Catherine – he
then fights Rodolpho and kisses him too
Immigration Bureau
• Eddie pleads with Alfieri for help. Alfieri tries
to warn him of the consequences of his
actions but Eddie doesn’t listen.
• Eddie phones the immigration bureau
• Beatrice breaks the news that Catherine and
Rodolpho are getting married to Eddie
• Rodolpho and Marco have moved upstairs to
lodge with other illegal immigrants
Too Late
• By the time Eddie regrets his decision, it is too
late, and the authorities arrive
• When Catherine realises what has happened,
she turns on Eddie
• When taken away, Marco spits on Eddie’s face
and accuses him of stealing food from his
children
• The honour of Eddie and Marco is now at
stake
The climax
• After a reluctant Marco agrees not to kill Eddie,
Alfieri bails him out of jail to watch his brother
marry Catherine
• On the day of the wedding Eddie refuses to let
Beatrice go. He then hears of Marco praying in
the church – this, and B’s accusation of his
feelings towards his niece, fuels his anger, and he
tries to find Marco
• The two men fight, Eddie draws a knife, but
Marco turns it onto him.
How the play ends
• Eddie dies in Beatrice's arms.
• Alfieri closes the play, commenting on how
useless Eddie's death was, and on how much
he admired him for allowing himself to be
"wholly known."
A View from the Bridge
Themes
Honour
• Honour is extremely important to all the characters, and this
is first apparent when Eddie and Beatrice describe the fate of
a young boy who broke his code of honour:
– (B) “Oh, it was terrible. He had five brothers and the old father. And
they grabbed him in the kitchen and pulled him down the stairs –
three flights his head was bouncin’ like a coconut.”
– (E) “Just remember, kid, you can quicker get back a million dollars that
was stole than a word you gave away.”
• Patriarchal Honour:
– “He’s stealing from me!”
Honour
• Marco’s value of honour:
• Marco has been turned into the authorities by Eddie, his
sense of honour is clear here:
– “In my country he would be dead now. He would not live this long.”
• Eddie also has a strong sense of honour:
– “I want my name!”
Love
• Throughout the play, Eddie displays an uncomfortable, and at
times inappropriate love for his niece. This is revealed early
on, when Eddie is confronted with the sight of his niece in a
short skirt, explaining that she has been offered a job.
– “Now don’t aggravate me, Katie, you are walkin’ wavy! I don’t like the
looks they’re givin’ you in the candy store. And with them high heels
on the sidewalk – clack, clack, clack. The heads are turnin’ like
windmills.”
Love
• Eddie and Beatrice's marriage is obviously not as strong as it
used to be: Beatrice asks, "When am I gonna be a wife again,
Eddie?" They have not slept together for months.
• Catherine and Rodolpho quickly fall deeply in love, but even
this love provides insight to the inappropriate love that Eddie
has for Catherine.
– “Oh, Catherine – oh, little girl.
– I love you, Rodolpho, I love you.
– Then why are you afraid? That he’ll spank you?”
Love
• Beatrice is a wife devoted to her husband, however there are
problems within the marriage, and she is torn between her
love for her husband and her love and protection for her
niece.
– “It’s wonderful for a whole family to love each other, but you’re a
grown woman and you’re in the same house with a grown man. So
you’ll act different now, heh?”
• Beatrice’s remarks over Eddie’s feelings towards Catherine
make it clear to the audience that his behaviour has been
noticed by those around him.
– (B) (to C): I don’t understand this. He’s not your father, Catherine. I
don’t understand what’s going on here.”
Justice and the Law
• At the beginning of the play, Alfieri explains the ItalianAmerican perceptions of the law, and provides the idea that
this is viewed as a negative thing by the characters within the
play
– “A lawyer means the law, and in Sicily, from where their fathers came,
the law has not been a friendly idea since the Greeks were beaten”
• Later, Alfieri relies on the American law to try to deter Eddie
from going to desperate measures:
– “You have no recourse in the law, Eddie”
• Marco’s dismay at the American justice system highlights the
clash in values between America and Sicily
– “The law? All the law is not in a book.”
– “
The Law Cont...
• (M): He degraded my brother. My blood. He robbed my
children, he mocks my work. I work to come here, mister!
• (A): I know, Marco –
• (M): There is no law for that? Where is the law for that?
• (A): There is none.
A View from the Bridge
Characters
Eddie
• Eddie and inner conflict:
– You’re the madonna type”
• Eddie and conflict with Rodolpho:
– “Watch your step, submarine. By rights they oughta throw you back in
the water.”
• Eddie and Marco:
– “You lied about me, Marco. Now say it. Come on now, say it!”
– “Anima-a-a-l!”
• Eddie and Beatrice:
– “I want my respect. Didn’t you hear of that? From my wife?”
– “My B.!”
Alfieri
• Similar to the chorus in Greek tragedy, Alfieri acts as narrator,
explaining events as if they have already occurred – this
creates a sense of dramatic irony – we, the audience, already
know which character will suffer a terrible fate. And, like
Alfieri, all we can do is watch the events unfold.
– “Eddie Carbone had never expected to have a destiny. A man works,
raises his family, goes bowling, eats, gets old, and then he dies. Now,
as the weeks passed, there was a future, there was trouble that would
not go away.”
Alfieri
• At the end of the episode, as the light goes up on Alfieri, we
are challenged to make a judgement. If Eddie, as we see him,
appeals to our hearts, Alfieri makes sure we also judge with
our heads
• Alfieri continues to warn the audience of Eddie’s fate, this
adds to the tension
– “I knew where he was heading for, I knew where he was going to end.
And I sat here many afternoons asking myself why, being an intelligent
man, I was so powerless to stop it.”
– “I could see every step coming, step after step, like a dark figure
walking down a hall toward a certain door. I knew where he was
heading for, I knew where he was going to end.”
Marco and Rodolpho
• Rodolpho is more prominent in the first act and at the start of
the second, while Marco becomes more important towards
the end of the play.
• Where Rodolpho speaks almost incessantly, Marco is often
silent. He has some difficulty speaking English, but this is not
his only reason. He is very attentive to what is going on and
being said, he thinks and then speaks, and he clearly believes
actions speak louder than words.
Marco and Rodolpho
• Both Rodolpho and Marco are proud, but Marco has a
stronger sense of the traditional values of the community.
When Eddie attempts a joke about the "surprises" awaiting
men who return from working in the U.S.A. for several years,
Marco corrects him, while appearing not to see anything
funny in the suggestion. It is Marco who tells Alfieri that at
home Eddie would already be dead for his betrayal: he feels
even more strongly than Eddie does the values which Eddie
expresses in telling the story of Vinnie Bolzano. Rodolpho, on
the other hand, tries to calm his brother, and offers Eddie a
chance to make peace, a chance which Eddie spurns.
Catherine’s Views of Eddie
• “Here! I’ll light it for you! She strikes a match and holds it to
his cigar. He puffs. Quietly: Don’t worry about me, Eddie,
heh?”
• “I mean I know him and now I’m supposed to turn around and
make a stranger out of him? I don’t know why I have to do
that”
• (E): Go, go. Hurry up! She stands a moment staring at him in a
realized horror.
• “He bites people when they sleep! He comes when nobody’s
lookin’ and poisons decent people. In the garbage he
belongs!”
• “Eddie I never meant to do nothin’ bad to you.”
Beatrice
• Beatrice confronts Eddie in Act one over their relationship.
This reveals the extent of their marriage problems to the
audience and adds more reason for the tension
– “When am I gonna be a wife again, Eddie?”
– “You want somethin’ else, Eddie, and you can never have her!”
• She also tries to encourage Catherine to separate herself from
Eddie, as if she, like Alfieri, can sense what is going to happen:
– “I don’t understand this. He’s not your father, Catherine. I don’t
understand what’s going on here.”
– “you’re a grown woman and you’re in the same house with a grown
man”
A View from the Bridge
Key Scenes
The Chair
• The climax of Act One
• Rodolpho teaches Catherine to dance, the action allowing
physical closeness;
• Eddie, to "win back" his beloved, humiliates Rodolpho in a
boxing "lesson"
• The final action trumps Eddie's, as Marco, who has silently
watched what is happening, shows Eddie the danger he
invites by threatening Rodolpho. Politeness does not permit
Marco to say anything, and the gesture is far more effective as
the audience sees the chair "raised like a weapon" over
Eddie's head
The Chair
• Marco is face to face with Eddie, a strained tension gripping
his eyes and jaw, his neck stiff, the chair raised like a weapon
over Eddie’s head – and he transforms what might appear like
a glare of warning into a smile of triumph, and Eddie’s grin
vanishes as he absorbs his look.
The Kiss
• The two kisses at the start of Act Two are equally effective on
stage: one with its suggestion of incest and the other
illustrating Eddie's mistaken belief in Rodolpho's
homosexuality.
– (C): Eddie, I’m not gonna be a baby any more!
– She is staring at him in horror. Rodolpho is rigid. They are like animals
that have torn at one another and broken up without a decision, each
waiting for the other’s mood.
The Final Scene
• In the final scene Alfieri’s warnings have finally come true,
Eddie dies as a result of his confrontation with Marco. Both
Catherine and Beatrice are present when he dies
–
–
–
–
(C): Eddie I never meant to do nothing bad to you.
(E): Then why – Oh, B.!
(B): Yes, Yes!
(E): My B.!
• The final action of the play is where Eddie dies by his own
hand and his own weapon – this could represent his own selfdestruction
A View from the Bridge
Other Dramatic Techniques
Stage Directions
• The stage directions give the reader an insight into Eddie’s
feelings towards Rodolpho:
– “he is sizing up Rodolpho, and there is a concealed suspicion.”
– “He moves from her, halts. She realizes there is a campaign solidified
in him”
• They also reveal his feelings towards his niece;
– “he can’t help smiling at her”
Symbolism
• Symbolism is most often found in the action, and has been
discussed above (the dancing, the chair-as-weapon, Eddie's
dying by his own hand). The set as well as accommodating the
action is symbolic of Eddie's world and values: the apartment
(home, where the family is) and the street (the wider
community, where he meets friends).
Symbolism
• The story of Vinny Bolzano is a parable about the need for
solidarity and loyalty in the community (this ranks even above
family ties, it seems), but also is prophetically symbolic of
Eddie's own act of treachery.
Symbolism
• Finally, there is symbolism in the play's title. After we see have
seen the play, we wonder why the play is so named. We are
made to think of the more panoramic view, which sees things,
from afar, in relation to each other. It is not the view from
ground level or the "water front", but a detached and
objective view. This is the view we should have of Eddie, the
view of Alfieri, the view that is "civilised" and will "settle for
half".
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