A View from the Bridge’ was originally written in the 1940’s as a one act play (by Arthur Miller) however in the 1950’s it was re-written as a two act play. The government grew concerned about the growing number of people entering the country, so they introduced new laws in 1920-1924 to restrict the numbers coming in. Italians were badly affected by this, which meant some chose to enter illegally. The play is set in Red Hook, New York in the 1950’s in an American/Italian community. Hundreds of people each year emigrated to America from Italy.
1820-1920 saw the largest movement of people to America. The majority of these were illegal. They went over in hopes of a better life or to ‘live the American dream’ as many people put it. This basically means that you could come from any background, good or bad and start again; build a new better life and most of all succeed by working hard. In ‘A View from the Bridge’ two brothers, Marco and Rodolpho, travel over illegally from Italy to stay with their cousin Beatrice, her husband Eddie and her niece Catherine.
The play shows the ups and downs of living with an extended family. Marco and Rodolpho both move to America; Rodolpho is hoping to become an American citizen and get a good job; Marco, however, only wants to stay in America so he can send money back to his family in Italy. During the play Rodolpho and Catherine fall in love, which Eddie strongly disapproves of, he makes this very clear throughout the play. As Catherine’s feelings towards Rodolpho grow her love for Eddie disintegrates.
A dramatic confrontation happens between Eddie and Marco which leads to a grim ending. Catherine and Eddie’s relationship at the beginning of the play is very similar to that of a father and daughter one. Catherine is very loving towards Eddie though she is still very immature and nai?? ve in her actions. By the end of Act 1 Catherine’s demeanour towards Eddie has already begun to change as her feelings for Rodolpho grow stronger, ‘I’m going with him, Eddie’. At the end of Act 1 Catherine purposely puts the record ‘Paper Doll’ on knowing how Eddie feels about it.
The audience would immediately link the putting on of Paper Doll with the tension from Eddie’s outburst when Marco and Rodolpho first arrive, when Catherine shows interest in Rodolpho when he sung Paper Doll which causes Eddie to become jealous and angry. This climaxes at the end of Act 1 in the boxing scene where Catherine runs to Rodolpho after Eddie punches him too hard, Catherine and Rodolpho end up dancing to Paper Doll again. At the beginning of the second act after Eddie arrives home drunk he witnesses Catherine emerge from the bedroom with Rodolpho following her.
Eddie becomes incredibly angry and tells Rodolpho to get out. Catherine tries to go back to the bedroom but Eddie grabs her arm, trembling with fright she says ‘I have to get outta here’. At this point Eddie explodes the violence that commences is the realization of implied aggression in the previous Act where Eddie’s barely-contained suspicion of Rodolpho’s sexuality were exposed again and again. ‘He’s lucky, believe me. (Slight pause. He looks away, then back to Beatrice. ) That’s why the water-front is no place for him. (They stop dancing. RODOLPHO turns off phonograph.)
I mean like me – I can’t cook, I can’t sing, I can’t make dresses, so I’m on the waterfront. But if I could cook, if I could sing, if I could make dresses, I wouldn’t be on the water-front. ‘ As Eddie still has hold of Catherine he turns her around to face him and kisses her, this in turn makes Rodolpho very angry. He tries to pull Eddie off Catherine but ends up being pinned up against the wall and receiving a kiss from Eddie. Rodolpho is too shocked at this point to fight back, Eddie pulls away from him and laughs as if he has proved Rodolpho ‘ain’t right’.
Catherine is enraged by this Act and screams at him ‘I’ll kill you! Let go ya here me! ‘ Eddie and Catherine’s relationship seems to continuously go downhill from this point. After speaking to Alfieri and realising he can’t do anything to stop Catherine marrying Rodolpho ‘This is my last word, Eddie, take it or not, that’s your business. Morally and legally you have no rights, you cannot stop it; she is a free agent’, Eddie calls the immigration bureau and reports Rodolpho and Marco. ‘I want to report something, Illegal immigrants. Two of them. ‘