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A View From the Bridge

The whole of this play involves symbolism, on many different levels. The end scene, in which Eddie takes his own life with his own knife is symbolic of the self-destructive nature that led to such an ending. As Arthur Miller wished to write ‘a modern Greek tragedy� it is likely that the symbolism of the dagger is Eddie�s sexuality, which drove him to his drastic actions and eventually death. During the confrontation earlier in the play Marco raised a chair like a weapon, symbolic of

the fight yet to come. Rudolpho danced with Catherine when she had previously been attending to Eddie, symbolic of him taking her from Eddie�s life.

Therefore it seems natural to reason that Miller intended the title of the play to have some significance other than the geography of the location. The most obvious interpretation is of the audience sharing with Alfieri an unbiased overview of the unfolding of events. It is like being able to see from a bridge over a river, our vision uncluttered by opinions as it would be by the side of the river, or perhaps even as part of the river. The spray and swirling of currents of a river could represent the uncertain nature of life that clouds our perceptions and the flow of water the rush of emotions that carry us from birth to death. Though, even Alfieri is not completely removed from the happenings of the play, he takes an active part in the play as well as providing the ‘chorus� character of the Greek format that Miller used. He is part of the American culture, but also part of the Italian culture, he also knew the family “I had represented his father in an accident case some years before, and I was acquainted with the family in a casual way.” Perhaps this is why he is able to give a balanced opinion and to counsel Eddie (though his advice is unheeded). On the bridge we have time to form opinions, to judge other people, to ‘settle for half�. It was his American audience that Miller addressed through Alfieri

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“Most of the time now we settle for half and I like it better. But the truth is holy, and even as I know how wrong he was and his death useless, I tremble for, I confess that something perversely pure calls to me from his memory--not purely good, but himself, purely, for he allowed himself to be wholly known and for that I think I will love him more than all my sensible clients.”

This dilutes the feeling of superiority and detachment that we are permitted from the beginning of the play. The title ‘A View from the Bridge� no longer seems to imply the safety of distance from events, but the need to realise, and perhaps revise, our morals and opinions in our judgement of others. What qualifies one set of values above another?

Alternatively the bridge could be viewed as spanning the two cultures � American and Sicilian. This could be viewed as positive, for example it could be said that Catherine and Rudolpho�s love seems able to overcome extreme cultural barriers. Even Eddie�s death could be seen as the gradual disappearance of such obstacles, though presented realistically, not in a fairy tale format as the audience do feel pity and sorrow at his death. On the other hand, the bridge could be seen as the merging of these cultures, the stronger American one dissolving the passions and identities of all its inhabitants. There could be further symbolism here, the metaphorical bridge between Catherine�s childhood and adulthood that can only be crossed once and leads her further into the constraints and limitations of her surroundings, is comparable to the way that the ardent naivety and ferocious simplicity of the Italian culture of her origins is absorbed into the impassionate American bureaucracy.

There are other journeys between extremes that could be the ‘bridge� of the play, e.g. Eddie�s transformation into a character like the Vinnie Bolzano he described previously. Eddie�s unavoidable crossing from a happy family circumstance into the situation that Alfieri predicted “You wont have a friend in the world...Put it out of your mind. As Eddie changes in character and his desperation increases his view of the events unfolding is warped. He becomes obsessed with Rudolpho�s sexuality and unsuitability for Catherine and repeatedly refers to what he regards as proof of this, for example his ‘blond hair�, the laughter of his friends, and his singing. He truly believes that Rudolpho is gay, and states it almost outright several times, ‘that guy ain�t right�, and he�s ‘so pretty you could kiss him�!

However, I personally feel that the most likely reason for Arthur Miller�s naming of the play as “A View from the Bridge” is the obvious metaphor of the audience�s perspective

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