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A View from the Bridge

Arthur Miller

Important Quotations Explained

Act II

Key Facts

Just remember, kid, you can quicker get back a million dollars that was stole than a word that you gave away.

Eddie speaks this quote in Act I, while eating dinner with Beatrice and Catherine. This quote reveals the irony and madness of Eddie's character. In the beginning of the play, Eddie tells the story of a young boy who called immigration on his relatives. Eddie lectures Catherine about how they must tell no one about Marco and Rodolpho, the illegal immigrant cousins the family will be hiding. However, in the end of the play, Eddie obviously calls Immigration on these cousins, just like the boy. Miller sets up Eddie so vehemently against betrayal that his transition to the betrayer seems illogical. The set-up requires Eddie to undergo a drastic change, if not complete breakdown, within the play to make such a transition. The force of this transition reveals no only his self-destructive madness, but the deepness of his unspoken love for his niece. This quote also reveals that Eddie knows his own fate—he knows what will happen to him, but cannot escape his fate. Much like Alfieri, Eddie watches himself make decisions he knows will not only ruin his reputation in the community, but also possibly kill him. Eddie may know the consequence of what he does, but remains powerless or too mad to stop it.

His eyes were like tunnels; my first thought was that he had committed a crime, but soon I saw it was only a passion that had moved into his body, like a stranger.

In this quote, found in Act I, Alferi describes Eddie's appearance at their first meeting, to the audience. Alfieri almost seems to fear Eddie as a paranormal beast, a remnant of the great Greek or Roman tragedy. Alfieri truly believes that Eddie was possessed with, "passion that has moved into his body, like a stranger," and was unable to control him. The passion that Alfieri describes is the passion for his niece Catherine. The passion, unreleased and suppressed in his unconscious was a stranger to Eddie's conscious self that actively denied any thoughts of incest or otherwise. This quote also reveals the style of Alfieri. Alfieri tells the tale of Eddie Carbone as if he is a legend. Eddie is described with dramatic and literary descriptions that are unusual in the dramatic form.

Eddie: Then why—Oh, B.! Beatrice: Yes, yes! Eddie: My B.!

This quote occurs at the conclusion of the play and is spoken between Eddie and Beatrice. As Eddie lies dying in Beatrice's arms, the couple finds some sort of reconciliation and repair of their torn and battered relationship. Beatrice, even under such horrible circumstances, is able to forgive Eddie. Eddie constantly dominates Beatrice throughout the play, but in this tiny moment Eddie needs Beatrice more than she needs him. It is the first time the audience hears that Eddie needs and it is the first time that he honestly needs Beatrice. Beatrice is the tirelessly forgiving character of the play. She is terribly jealous of her niece, who receives more attention from her husband than she does, but still forgives Eddie in the end. This final scene was one of the major alterations of the revised script of A View from the Bridge. In the original version, Eddie dies at the feet of Catherine. However, because of Beatrice's increased presence in the revised version and downscaling of the relationship between Eddie and Catherine—Eddie must return to Beatrice. Beatrice is the only female who, in the end, needs him. Catherine, now beyond his control, no longer seeks his approval. Thus, Eddie is drawn to Beatrice and for the first time he seeks out Beatrice, her forgiveness and love.

You want somethin' else, Eddie, and you can never have her!

This quote, spoken by Beatrice in the conclusion of Act II to Eddie, is the first time that Eddie seems to realize his true feelings for Catherine and recognize his own madness. Until this moment, no one has directly spoken about Eddie's feelings for Catherine. Although they are obviously known by Beatrice and Alfieri, know one has dared to actually tell Eddie what is wrong with him. But even when Eddie realizes his demon, the love for his niece, he is powerless to stop it. Eddie lunges forward and attempts to kill Marco. In this moment of Sicilian revenge, Eddie cannot pull himself back or regain any sense of reason. Perhaps even the recognition of the sexual taboo makes Eddie even more determined to seek revenge or at least find some sort of success or honor in his death. Eddie does not even have the power to deny Beatrice's claim, but instead follows through his destructive path. This moment may bring Eddie out of his madness enough to lie in Beatrice's arms as he bleeds to death. Once he has recognized his sinful love for Catherine, Eddie seems to find himself once again—which may explain why he is able to reconcile his relationship with Beatrice.

Most of the time we settle for half and I like it better. 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 And yet, it is better to settle for half, it must be! And so I mourn him—I admit it—with a certain alarm.

This quote deals with the central conflict of A View from the Bridge: the self will verses the will of the community. The whole man that Alfieri describes in Eddie is the self-interested man. Eddie's actions within the play are completely motivated by his own desires at the expense of others. Thus, humans must act halfway to preserve the rules of the community and lives of others. The idea that Alfieri suggests, that Eddie acted as a whole person, unrestrained and uninhibited is true. However, Eddie's wholeness was at the expense of his own family and eventually himself. He only escaped restraint because he escaped consideration of other people or the community at large. Eddie's wholeness is a whole interest in his own life. His tragic flaw is this self-interest—a flaw that seems both admirable and alarming to Alfieri.

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