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'A View from the Bridge ends in tragedy. Explore how the audience's response is shaped towards this conclusion throughout the play.'

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                                                English Literature Coursework        Paramjot Jutla



ASSIGNMENT TITLE :   ‘A View from the Bridge ends in tragedy. Explore how the audience’s response is shaped towards this conclusion throughout the play.’

Arthur Miller is a world-renowned playwright and dramatist who was born in New York City in the year 1915. Miller studied at the University of Michigan where he started writing some of his better known plays. In the year 1955, Miller wrote a play called, ‘A View from the Bridge’, it is a 20 th  century interpretation of the dramatic form.  

It is set in the late 1940’s amidst the Sicilian community in Brooklyn, New York. It is said to be a modern version of a Greek tragedy with its powerful speeches and references to fate. A lawyer, Alfieri re-tells his account as he ‘oversees’ the events that take place. The play is in two acts, but careful incisions by Alfieri help the audience to reflect on the events that have just happened. The title of the play is based on the Brooklyn Bridge and Alfieri having a view from on top of it. Since this play is supposed to be a modern version of a Greek tragedy, tragic events take place throughout the play. The concept of impending doom is something that is threatening to happen, and throughout this essay, I will go into depth about how Arthur Miller created this atmosphere through his written language and stage directions.

Eddie Carbone is introduced into the play as a ‘slightly overweight longshoreman’ and we see straight away that he is a character of authority when Catherine appears and waits on him in an affectionate way. Catherine is an 18-year old who, because of her mother's death is living with her Aunt Beatrice and her husband, Eddie. Eddie has taken upon himself to be a father to Catherine and to give her the very best in life. Therefore, because of his ‘fatherly’ affections Eddie and Catherine have developed a close family relationship. Eddie’s first comments to Catherine this early in the play are all centred on Catherine’s appearance. References made about her hair, clothes and about her ‘walkin’ wavy.’ This obsessive attention to Catherine’s physical appearance is extremely questionable especially when he asks her to turn around so he can see her back. When Eddie becomes quite adamant that he disapproves of the way she walks, Catherine is ‘almost in tears.’ This simple act of crying shows the audience immediately how naive and vulnerable she is.

Beatrice, Eddie’s wife doesn’t seem to notice or observe the actions of Eddie and his niece Catherine.

The play then plummets into the arrival of Beatrice’s two cousins from Italy who are illegal immigrants. The ‘honour’ that is bestowed upon the family as Eddie says, is pride. The law does not matter in this community - they make the rules. Eddie ironically tells the tragic story of Vinny Bonzano who told the Immigration Bureau that his uncle was an illegal immigrant and staying with them. He was then disowned from the community. This states the harsh reactions that the community has against someone who ‘breaks the code.’ The result is always violence. The arrival of the cousins creates apprehension and Marco who is the eldest is very courteous towards Eddie. Rodolpho is the younger of the two and he is blonde. This fascinates Catherine and she voices her fascination.

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The arrival of the two brothers, Marco and Rodolpho has a big impact in the way Eddie acts. He is more aggressive and agitated. This results in more violence between the two brothers and Eddie.

Miller presents emotion with Eddie’s character. We can indicate that the play is more violent and confused, as Marco and Rodolpho are more involved with Eddie and his way of life.

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Alfieri is the voice of faith and acts as the chorus in the play. He helps the audience to reflect on the events that have just occurred. He launches into graphic detail about past bandits and murders and about how justice is very important to the Italians. The community is the ‘gullet of New York,’ which is ‘swallowing the tonnage of the world.’

U.S. Republican Senator Joseph McCarthy was one of the most controversial figures of the 1950s. His charges that the U.S. State Department had been infiltrated by Communists were never substantiated, but his widespread popularity caused many government officials to avoid challenging him. After televised hearings in 1954 where he accused the U.S. Army of coddling Communists, he lost popular support and was censured by the Senate for methods he used in his investigations. Miller used the era of McCarthyism to reflect his play on the laws and views of illegal immigrants entering the country.

The chorus figure is still used in plays today – he comments on the action, divides it into scenes and linked these scenes together by covering any action that the audience didn’t see during a time gap. He represents sanity, reason and compassion in modern plays. The choric figure usually talks more standard English, and this is true in this play, where Alfieri is much more articulate than most of the characters.

Arthur Miller has used this characteristic in Alfieri to divide each act into unofficial scenes, and inform the audience on any missed action.

A View from the Bridge involves the audience and their emotions. Arthur Miller has used various methods to keep these emotions controlled. He has used calm scenes between those of high tension and emotion, but the main method is the chorus figure. The audience listens to Alfieri, for many reasons. They respect his opinion because he is a Lawyer, but they also like his character and can connect with his position in the play.

I believe that the chorus character in this play has the “View from A Bridge,” and is looking over the play. I think he has so much pressure from being told all the other characters’ secrets that he needs to talk to someone. I think this is why he talks to the audience.

Alfieri is a lawyer who works for the Sicilian community in Brooklyn. He opens the play with a very exposing account of what life used to be like and is like in that particular community. The audience knows from that speech everything about Alfieri and about the community in Red Hook. He launches into graphic detail about past bandits and murders and about how justice is very important to the Italians. Alfieri is essential to the structure of the play as he opens and closes the play. I believe that he is Arthur Miller's mouthpiece and he moves the action that Miller has once witnessed.  

In the boxing scene, Eddie challenges Rodolpho to a sparing match to signify his strength and is trying to find every opportunity to humiliate Rodolpho in front of Catherine. There is now an air of tension and suppressed rivalry in the room. Catherine at this point is sick and tired of the person she loves being denounced in such a way. She therefore challenges Eddie´s authority in asking Rodolpho to dance. Eddie simply freezes and carries on attacking Rodolpho by asking him to box. In this way, Eddie was putting Rodolpho to a sick test. Eddie was wondering if Rodolpho were actually going to hit him. Marco was quiet throughout the whole boxing scene and when it was finished, Catherine and Rodolpho started dancing again. Marco then challenged Eddie to his own kind of test. When Eddie fails to pick up a chair by one leg, Marco does it, exposing his full strength. Although this action was done without any words, Eddie knew what Marco was signalling. Eddie had gone too far and Marco was protecting his baby brother.

Justice is the key factor in the final outcome of "A view from the bridge". Without the need for it, the conclusion would have been totally different.

The character which if affected the most is most certainly Marco.

Eddie has his strongest feeling of injustice when Rodopho arrives. Eddie has been a father to Catherine all her life and "gave her the food out of his mouth". He paid money to her so that she would meet a better class of people and there are subtle hints that he is attracted to her as well. He is justified to feel jealous and spiteful towards Rudolph when he comes over from Italy and wins Catherine’s heart. He feels betrayed by Catherine that she has suddenly run off and lives her own life.

He tries to imply justice on Rodolpho by legal means; so he goes to Alfieri. Alfieri calmly tells him that Rodolpho has not done anything illegal by proposing to Catherine, and the only thing he has done wrong was the means by which he entered the county. Eddie decides to take it upon himself to get rid of Rodolpho, using whatever it takes.

Unfortunately for Marco, he is the innocent victim of Eddie’s attempt to rid New York of Rodolpho. He quickly realises that Eddie is to blame for the appearance of the immigration officers and gets quite angry. He feels that justice need to be brought on him as he "killed his children". If he did something similar in Italy, he would have to pay for the crime in a fight. He comments on America in the prison scene, "I don't understand this country". Eventually he challenges Eddie, but Eddie pulls a knife on him. In the end though, as it is fated to happen, it is Eddie who ends up being killed.

In this play, Marco's actions lead us to the discovery of violent side, which he uses to defend his honour in a number of occasions. For example, when he challenges Eddie to lift the chair at the end of the first act, we understand that he did it to save his brother's face and his family's honour. In addition, the killing of Eddie by Marco's own hands at the end of the play, is the final display of his character. Marco's character is definitely expressed more by his actions than by his words.

Eddie starts picking on Rodolfo from the first night. He is jealous of Catherine’s attraction to Rodolfo, and this is taking her attention away from himself. Eddie uses Rodolfo´s illegal status against him and exercises his authority over him. He makes Rodolfo stop singing under the excuse that the singing is drawing attention to him and he may get discovered and picked up, to hide his feelings of jealousy and dislike towards him. Eddie´s hatred for Rodolfo grows and he is acting on his emotions when he tells Catherine, after they have come back from the cinema that Rodolfo is only using her to get his papers so he can stay in America. “Katie, he’s only bowin´ to his passport.” Catherine reacts badly to this and the tension between everyone grows.

Every new scene starts off tension-free but as the scene commences, there is more and more tension that builds up. A sudden infringement into any scene, in any play can cause tension, but in “A view from the Bridge” all of the characters know, or suspect, that it was Eddie who called for the Immigration officers, so dramatic tension is raised even more. It ends when the officers take Marco and Rodolpho. There was high points of tension when the boxing and chair-lifting scenes were performed. Eddie was acting very foolishly towards Marco and Rodolpho, he should have known that he would be getting himself into trouble. For the price of Catherine’s heart, Eddie was foolish risking your life.

When Rodolpho and Catherine are having a romantic scene, it should be by soft gas lighting to create a warm glow in the room. When Eddie arrives, the warm light could be tinted with blue, or another colour which signals ‘danger,’ or which isolates Eddie from everyone else. The slip that Catherine wears when she greets Eddie could be very provocative and although Eddie was drunk, the audience could see some of the rationale behind Eddie´s kiss.

Eddie is hostile towards Rodolpho because he is jealous of the obvious chemistry between the younger ones. Eddie unsuccessfully does his utmost to eliminate Rodolpho. He sees him as a homosexual who is using Catherine to get an American passport. Catherine is attempting to be independent but she cannot stand up to Eddie. Catherine sees Rodolpho and immediately expresses to him in different words how handsome and attractive he is. We know something is going to happen in the latter stages of the play because there seems to be increasing pressure, which wants to be let off.

The tragedy in “A View from the Bridge” is based around people’s unwillingness to accept reality. People do not accept reality.

This has been taken to its fullest extent in this play as it ends in the demise of Eddie. His reality contains a secret, a secret lust for Catherine, This to Eddie is something disgusting something depraved – as to him she is a daughter and some conflicting inner voice tells him that is the only way it can be. For her he has an intense love but maybe this love arises from lust.

The main tool, which is instrumental in Eddies downfall and in truth any downfall is his ‘tragic flaw’, which in Eddies case is his inability to accept the reality towards his feelings for Catherine.

Arthur Miller defined tragedy as:

"Tragedy, then, is the consequence of a man's total compulsion to evaluate himself justly." This means that Eddie’s tragedy is he denying that which is true, his feelings from within, he refuses to accept them.

This contributes to or even constitutes the dramatic irony of the play.

The seed of irony is placed at the start of the play where Alfieri starts the play by talking about “Something amusing” whilst walking through the Carbone neighbourhood. He then goes on to tell us this happens because people only think of lawyers “In connection with disasters, and they’d rather not get too close.” So from the beginning the audience know something tragic is going to happen as he continues talking about great tragedies. In the end, the only thing Eddie has left with, is the love of his wife even though it could be argued that all he needs is her love although through his own actions his tragic fall ends in death.

The tragic form is still relevant in today’s society because different people enjoy different aspects of the way people interpret their own reality. People do still want to read how characters get themselves into impossible situations, and people also want to see how they manage to escape. Many films and books today are based on a 20 th  century tragic form because their target audience still want to read or view them. Reality situations are easier to do cope with, because the audience have seen the circumstances in which characters get themselves into and could use their method on how to handle the predicament.

'A View from the Bridge ends in tragedy. Explore how the audience's response is shaped towards this conclusion throughout the play.'

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A Juxtapositioning of The Opening in a Streetcar Named Desire and a View from a Bridge

Analysis of the movie version of, a view from the bridge by arthur miller.

September 29, 1955

Arthur Miller

Eddie Carbone, Beatrice, Catherine, Alfieri, Marco, Rodolpho, Louis, Mike, Tony, Immigration Officer 1,Immigration Officer 2

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a view from the bridge essay conclusion

The Play “A View from the Bridge” by Arthur Miller Essay


Eddie Carbone was an Italian American longshoreman who lived in a small community near Brooklyn Bridge in New York. He was married to Beatrice, and they lived in Red Hook, a community that sheltered illegal immigrants.

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They lived with his niece Catherine whose parents were deceased. Eddie was a responsible member of the society who offered two of his nephews’ shelter because they were both illegal immigrant. He was the head of his family, and as such he protected his niece, and he catered for all her needs. He was a compassionate person because of having lived in poverty; he was willing to assist his nephews (Miller 2001).

He was a good person earlier in his life but this doesn’t last, and his unfriendly character was eventually discovered. This happened when his nephews arrived to live with him as illegal immigrants. The younger nephew felt affection towards Catherine and these feelings were reciprocated, and this angered Eddie. Eddie’s dislike of the relationship between Rodolfo and Catherine showed his vile nature this character was not desirable, especially towards his wife (Moss 2000).

It was also at this point where he noted that his concern for Catherine had gone overboard. Then his feelings for Catherine were exposed, and this was considered incestuous rather than protective of her. He was advised by his lawyer friend Alfieri to turn in his nephews; Marco and Rodolpho to immigration police. This occurred when Rodolpho declared his intention to marry Katherine, and she accepted. Eddie tried to poison her against marrying Rodolpho this act tarnished her view of her uncle (Gottfried 2003).


Eddie was an outstanding member of the society he offered help to his niece Catherine and also the immigrant nephews. He even declined to sabotage his nephews when he was first advised by his lawyer friend. He dutifully took care of his niece, and this concern got him in trouble for apparently falling in love with her. Despite his critical flaw in emotional judgment, he was a good person (Miller 2004).

Eddie happened to care for Catherine in a way that was not normal since they were related by blood. This overprotectiveness he could have controlled but made no effort to sync later on we learned that this affection grew. This affection caused him to report his nephews to the immigration authorities for not being citizens. He did this in a bid to deter Catherine from marrying Rodolpho by getting them deported. This decision caused Eddie public humiliation and family estrangement (Bigsby 2010).

Eddie’s bad judgment is brought to light when he said that he deserved Catherine’s affection since he had raised her for the twenty years, and if Rodolpho married her, he would have lost. His behavior in this incident showed how, despite being married, he publicly declared war on his nephew because of his affection for Catherine. This inappropriate situation made the neighbors’ fault his concern as a family man.

Eddie met his demise fighting with Marco who was avenging their betrayal. He stabbed him and caused his death in a confrontation in the street in front of Eddie’s house. Since Marco was regarded as the strongest, he challenged Eddie and won the proving that Eddie was weak (Gottfried 2003).

Eddie Carbone as a person, was a responsible head of his family who made sure he fulfilled his duties as a father. He led a life filled with poverty but never denied anyone from his family what he could offer. He had mishaps that led to his death; this character slips that he could not contain made him make choices that were selfish. He fell in love with his niece and took decisions after that caused a family scandal that portrayed him as a bad man (Bigsby 2010).

Works Cited

Bigsby, Christopher. The Cambridge Companion to Arthur Miller . London: Cambridge University Press, 2010. Print.

Gottfried, Martin. Arthur Miller, A Life . London: Faber and Faber (UK), 2003. Print.

Miller, Arthur. A View from the Bridge / All My Sones . London: Penguin, 2004.

Miller, Arthur. Introduction to Plays: One . London: Methuen, 2001. Print.

Moss, Leonard. Arthur Miller . Boston: Twayne Publishers, 2000.

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IvyPanda. (2020, March 19). The Play "A View from the Bridge" by Arthur Miller.

IvyPanda. (2020, March 19). The Play "A View from the Bridge" by Arthur Miller. Retrieved from

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IvyPanda . "The Play "A View from the Bridge" by Arthur Miller." March 19, 2020.

IvyPanda . 2020. "The Play "A View from the Bridge" by Arthur Miller." March 19, 2020.

IvyPanda . (2020) 'The Play "A View from the Bridge" by Arthur Miller'. 19 March.

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