A View From A Bridge – Exploring Masculinity Essay
In this piece of coursework I am going to explore the different forms of masculinity that are presented in A View From The Bridge. A view From The bridge is a play which takes place in the 1950’s when Italian immigrants were flooding into America illegally. It is a play which shows how the small compact communities lived by their own code of law which is in no book or on any parchment. It is set in the characters modern day New York with law, justice and the police but yet in the close-knit community who are adamant on justice whether the law permits it or not, the notion of justice, linking in with their honour.
The play is set in a small place called Red Hook, ”the slum that faces the bay on the seaward side of Brooklyn Bridge. ” This quote is said by Alferi in his opening soliloquy, Alferi in the opening soliloquy contrasts Red Hook from past to present including the men that used to live there- ‘Al Capone, the greatest Carthaginian of all, was learning his trade on these pavements’. This quote tells that Al Capone lived here – (Al Capone being a, notorious villain who was wanted by the American Government).
This shows that the men at this time were rough and were into crime of all sorts. Alferi goes on to say how he kept a pistol in his cabinet for protection; this again shows us how dangerous a place Red Hook was ”I no longer keep a pistol in my filing cabinet”. However this is what Red Hook used too be like, it is now a civilized community described by Alferi as ”quite civilized, quite American”. The traditional ideas of a man are shown in A view From The Bridge in the form of Marco and Eddie.
Even though Eddie could be classed as a ‘real man’ he shows aspects of a traditional man. Traditional men would have been raised to know when they were older and had a family of their own they should be the breadwinner of the family, the one who went and did a hard days work for food to feed his family. Traditional men at this time found their honour greatly important. This is shown with Eddie especially right at the end of the play when Eddie wants Marco to apologize or Marco killed for, ”Wipin’ the neighbourhood with my name like a dirty rag”
Family and honour was the most important thing to a traditional man and men would have done anything to make sure they had a content family and had no shame brought on their honour and the families honour. Nevertheless this was not the end for the duties of a traditional man, they were not supposed to do certain activities such as cooking, cleaning, dancing, and singing along with other activities that would make them seem weird and rather feminine, or in Eddies case give some one the ”heebie jeebies”
Even though it would have given someone the “heebie jeebies” in those times it would not give someone the “heebie jeebies” in modern society it would be upon if a man did such things as cooking. This shows times have moved forward and the new type of society we have now. In all though these duties were not seen as duties to these traditional men as there whole life had been surrounded by what a man should and shouldn’t do. Eddie Carbone in a View From The Bridge is the predominant character, in different ways he is linked in with everyone in the story.
It is his actions that makes the plot and drives the play forward. Eddie is a very forceful man who seems to see himself as the traditional man with the role of being the Breadwinner. He is used to get his own way and knows his in charge and the head of the household. Eddie Carbone is possessive over his niece Catherine. Eddie would like his life to remain the way it is as it is changing and finds it difficult to come to terms with the change. An example of change happening in Eddies is Catherine growing up. She is starting to go out and wear make up.
Eddie finds this him impossible to come to terms with as Catherine as always been is little girl. To try and tackle this he tries to lecture her and make nasty remarks towards Catherine, like “You’re walkin’ wavy” Eddie trying to control Catherine is only one part of his possessives comes into play when Roldolpho and Catherine fall in love and Eddie does A Vinny Bolzano ,and calls the authorities about Marco and Roldolpho. His forceful side of his personality is shown as well with his wife expecting her to back up everything he says and does; he becomes angry when she differs on opinion with Roldolpho.
However even though all of this tends to make us feel Eddie is a heartless man there are warmer sides which we see Eddie in Eddie is also a man who works hard for his family and has a strong sense of community linking with fact of his honour and his security within his masculinity. Eddie also shows his a real man by the certain activities he does and doesn’t do. As I said in one of my introductory paragraphs real and traditional men would not do feminise activities such as cooking, cleaning, sewing, making dresses etc. his was shown with Roldolpho when he was with Catherine making a dress in the bedroom.
Men were frowned upon if they to made dresses, sew, sing, clean and danced. Eddie in his spare time though does not do any of these things. In the play it is tells you that Eddie goes bowling with his two friends Louis and Mike – ”Wanna go bowlin’ tonight? ” However during the coarse of the play he never accepts the invitation to go as his mind is on other things- ”I’m too tired. Goin’ to sleep.
Also it shows you Eddie just relaxes at home and has everything served up to him after coming from a long days work. This is the typical traditional/real man. Eddies job also proves he is a real man as he his longshoreman which is a very hard labouring job. You would need to be a real man to do the job he does however not all men did hard labouring jobs and were classed as weirds, as an example Alferi is an educated man. In addition the traditional would not talk things over to solve a conflict. They would have used their fists first and then asked questions later.
This type of behaviour is the same with Eddie. This violent streak of behaviour to solve conflict could be due to lack of justice and law within his society and the deficiency of order in his childhood. An example of this behaviour is when Eddie has boxing match with Roldolpho. This shows how Eddie finds an outlet for his anger by violence just like a real man-”Now I’m gonna hit you” Eddie gets into conflicts because of his jealousy rivalry and will to be in control. This all only is a part of him because his masculinity-in this sense masculinity rules his life.
Eddie has many weaknesses. One of his many weaknesses is his sexual feelings for Catherine; this is probably the biggest weakness. This is because it defies his masculinity. This defies his masculinity because Catherine is his daughter and a real 1950’s man defends and protects their family not have inappropriate feelings for them. We know that he has feelings by the amount of times he criticizes her, so other men won’t look at her. ”you’re walkin’ wavy” this quote shows how he is keeping Catherine very close and not letting her go, to explore the world.
Maybe it is this reason why she falls in love with Roldolpho, the first person she ever goes out with. Also Eddie has many other problems but these are common to the 1950’s man. Another one of these is his lack of emotional intelligence. During the play you do not see him weep, cry or convey any of his emotions except for hate and anger. This may because of his masculinity and hi not wanting to show his real feelings. This again shows the point of how his masculinity rules his life because he can’t share his emotions. Eddies does not share his emotions therefore bottling it up.
This would sense with the fact of the only emotion he shows is anger. This is because if Eddie doe’s bottle up his emotions when he does released them they come in a blast of fury and hatred. However at the end of the play Eddie does Convey emotion when he dies in Beatrice’s lap, he says to her that he loves I his own way ”My B” making things more things tragic when he dies showing everyone he deep down really y loves Beatrice, The final point I am going to make about Eddie weaknesses is his problem with admitting his weakness.
This is a big issue as he cannot tell anyone when his wrong making people resent him and thinking he is an obnoxious person. An example of this weakness is when he can’t admit to Beatrice he has feelings for Catherine. ” That’s what you think of me – that I would have such thoughts? ” This proves the point of Eddie not being able to admit something, even when everyone knows he done something wrong. In the end his weakness of admitting that he was wrong and his masculinity gets the better f him and dies on his own knife in a gruesome showdown with Eddie.
This is symbolic as it shows him how his own behaviour will catch up on him the phrase ‘what comes around come around’ I feel is a good phrase to describe this. Eddies death could have been prevented by communication but as he lacked that skill Eddie died. Moving on from Eddie we come to Marco, Marco is not a real man but is a traditional man, have classed Eddie at some parts as both traditional and a real man. However there are many things that differ between the two. I some aspects Eddie is a traditional man in others he is not.
For the most of the play Marco is focused on the task of providing for hi wife and family back in Italy. He is a serious man who once makes enough money wants to leave America. The chair lifting competition at the end of Act one shows us that he has a protecting attitude towards his brother Roldolpho and will not stand anyone pushing him around. Marco knows the unwritten code o their society and shares some of the same values as Eddie making up part of his masculinity. When Eddie tells the immigration services abut him and Roldolpho he knows he will act very violently upon Eddie.
In the prison he knows he cannot make a dishonourable promise not to go after Eddie but after much persuasion does. This shows how even though he was really angry he did not want to make a promise that would his tarnish his honour which would in all affects his masculinity. However Marco knows he will have nothing to lose as Eddie HAS already made him lose his money and taken the food from his children’s mouths. As Marco comes from a much more traditional view of justice he knows he has no choice but to kill Marco for doing such act upon him.
All of his actions take the form a very traditional man who provides for his family, protects his family and also do anything to get justice even if doesn’t agree with the modern societies view of justice. In many ways Marco conforms to the idea of being a real man in Eddie’s terms. Marco also believes in violence in solving conflicts however his gives warnings. A scene that proves this is when Marco and Eddie have the chair lifting competition after Eddie hits Roldolpho ”Can you lift this chair? ” This is warning to back away from Roldolpho and a warning to show no one can bully Roldolpho otherwise they will have Marco to answer to.
Other ways in which Marco conforms to Eddie’s idea of a real man is with the jobs he does they both have very hard labouring jobs, Marco in Italy when he did get jobs got jobs pushing taxis up hills which must of required lots of strength and energy. I know this because Marco describes the hardships of the shortage of jobs I Italy. ‘ to push the taxi up the hill” this quote shows the proves the points I made about the hardship and manual labouring of jobs. Marco during the course of the play is not really talked about except for the end the beginning.
However we find out during the play what other characters think of Marco. Marcos brother Roldolpho we know believes that ” Marco never hurt anybody” This may because Roldolpho has never been the witness of Marcos temper and rage or that Marco ahs never displayed violence before. However this is his brother other characters such as Eddie have a two toned feeling about Marco during the course of the play. Eddie at the beginning of the play says that “Marco goes around like a man” Though towards the end of the play Eddie changes his mind and starts to think Marco s a “liar”.
This change of thought from Eddie shows how he though Marco was masculine and tough but then towards the end when Marco accuses him of calling immigration thinking he is a lying cheat. This not only shows the view on which Eddie viewed Marco but the way in which how quickly to defend his honour and masculinity Eddie can change his views on someone. During the play the only confrontation Eddie comes across is with Eddie, apart from this there is no other confrontation. The conflict between Eddie and Marco starts at the Act One when Marco had the chair lifting competition with Eddie.
This showed the strength of Marco and how he was a very traditional masculine figure. However the peak of their conflict is at the end when Eddie and Marco have the final showdown in the middle of the street in front of everyone. When Beatrice tells Eddie to go in the hose she knows Marco will solve the conflict using violence in the ultimate fight, but Eddie insists and says “Maybe he come to apologize to me” In the end Marco wins. Eddie uses a weapon but still that does not help him. We do not know what happens to Marco but we know what happens to Eddie. Roldolpho has accompanied Marco to America.
His personality makes everyone like him except for Eddie. Eddie thinks that Roldolpho is after Catherine for the papers and everyone on the docks think he his stupid however in the conversation with Louis and mike they say “You take one look at him and everyone is happy” this shows that he his genuinely liked by everyone except Eddie. Roldolpho can cook, sing and make clothes. This by far makes him a homosexual by 1950’s standard the speculations about his sexuality are all untrue. Roldolpho seems like a person ho would go out and make something with his life unlike the rest of the real and traditional men who have hard labouring jobs.
When he says to Catherine “If I were not afraid to be arrested I would start something wonderful hear” this makes you believe he could make something of his life over in America. Further on Catherine and Roldolpho fall in love, Roldolpho really does live her but Eddie however sees it has him trying to get his American citizenship. Roldolpho also has ambition unlike the other men who are uneducated, this is proved within the quote” Only work we don’t have I want to be an American so I can wok” This quote also shows the serious side of Roldolpho not the funny and joyful side.
This shows how is unlike Marco and Eddie as his not only more feminine but also has more ambition instead of wanting to be just another longshoreman just getting by. Roldolpho’s good sense and nature is shown at the end of the play when he comes to warn Eddie about the oncoming Marco. Not only does he warns Eddie but apologizes to him as well. This is in all to avoid violence. At the beginning of the play he seems like an immature boy but by the end of the play he seems to be a full grown sensible man. All of this shows his masculinity is less than Marcos and Eddies but more so in other aspects.
Eddie is very unfair towards Eddie during the play calling him a number of things including ” a weird”, “canary” and other phrase which are degrading and malicious. This all lead to one thing saying he his homosexual or less masculine. The accusations of Eddie are totally wrong. Roldolpho comes into conflict with Eddie a number of times, but the main ones are the boxing match and near the end when Eddie kisses both Catherine and Roldolpho. The boxing was in the presence of all the members of the family and Eddie persuaded with the help of Beatrice to get Roldolpho to play. Roldolpho, I show you a couple of passes” This I think is a front to be able to get his aggression out on Roldolpho.
When Roldolpho does hit Eddie passes it off as nothing but Marco comes ad warns Eddie using the chair lifting competition as affront. The next main confrontation was when Eddie kissed both Catherine and Roldolpho this showed how Eddie was trying to get Roldolpho to try and come out his shell and proves his accusations were correct. However the only thing that came out of it was Catherine and Roldolpho resentment and anger towards Eddie. Stop that-have more respect than that for her” this quote show Roldolpho getting angry at the fact that Eddie kissed Catherine this shows his more aggressive masculine side. From Roldolpho we go on to a totally different character in the play Alferi. Alferi is different from other characters in the book. His role includes a lawyers and a narrator that communicates with the audience. Alferi gives advice to Eddie when Eddie comes to him and says the soliloquy at the beginning of the play. Alferis most important role is the narrator to reveal and study the unfolding events.
He stands n the line of justices observing the two types portrayed. It is Alferi that draws us o the theme of traditional justice and the modern day justice. He also makes the story of Eddie an actual drama instead of another old tale. He does not portray an image of masculinity because of his education however I would tend to put in the category in between Marco and Roldolpho because he has ambition like Roldolpho but also probably knows when to get tough like Marco. In conclusion to my essay I feel that three strong types of masculinity are being portrayed. A real man, A Traditional Man and finally A less Femmine Man.
I feel that society had moved on along with time and therefore the masculinity of men have changed. It would be quite acceptable to be a Roldolpo type man in modern society. The setting though of this play does determine the characters as Arthur Miller sets the play in a run down town which is half civilised and used to be full of ‘gangsters’ because the setting is rough so is the characters. The character I probably most identify with would be Marco because I am probably quite balanced the head. Even though I don’t look for fight if my family were ever threatened I would seek to protect them by whatever means.