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A View from the Bridge

Arthur Miller

Study Questions and Suggested Essay Topics

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Study Questions

Which elements of A View from the Bridge resemble Greek Tragedy? How does this change or affect the significance of the play as a modern drama?

There are several elements of A View from the Bridge that resemble Greek drama. Eddie is the tragic, mad character who is helpless in the face of his own terrible fate. Alfieri acts as the chorus in the play. He provides commentary on the action and articulates the greater moral and social implications of the drama. Eddie Carbone is an epic character; he makes bold moves and does things that are completely out of the ordinary. As chorus, Alfieri is key to distinguishing Eddie as a legendary figure because Alfieri gives Eddie epic proportions, "I looked into his eyes more than I listened—in fact, I hardly remember the conversation I will never forget how dark the room became when he looked at me; his eyes were like tunnels."

What imagined world or reality does Eddie seek to uphold? How does he see himself? How does this differ from the actual world of the play?

To justify his actions, Eddie creates an alternative reality to exist within. This imagined world Eddie constructs is evident by his irrational decisions. Eddie knows well the fate he will suffer if he betrays Marco and Rodolpho. In the beginning of the play, Eddie tells the story of a young boy who ratted on immigrant relatives staying in his home and warns Catherine that she must be absolutely silent about Marco and Rodolpho. Eddie knows that he will suffer greatly for calling Immigration, but does so anyway. In Eddie's imagined world he believes that putting his relatives in jail will stop the marriage of Rodolpho and Catherine. Eddie believes he can keep Catherine all for himself as a virginal prize. Eddie thinks that he can regain his name after Marco spits in his face. Eddie, driven by his suppressed passions, makes irrational decisions and denies his own reason.

How does Alferi function in the play? What values or laws does he represent? How does his presence alter the play or the audience's perception of the characters?

Alfieri is the symbolic bridge between American law and tribal Italian law. Alfieri, himself the son of an Italian immigrant, acts as a chorus in the play. He gives his perspective from his position on the bridge or meeting ground between Italian and American cultures. Alfieri attempts to portray the characters objectively, but, especially in the case of Eddie Carbone, narrates the play as if it were a great legend. Alfieri positions himself as the great scribe or teller of an epic tale: "the flat air in my office suddenly washes in with the green scent of the sea the thought comes that in some Caesar's year another lawyer set there as powerless as I, and watched it run its bloody course." Alfieri adds grandeur to the story and transforms the story of a Longshoreman into a larger than life tragic tale.

How are names important in A View from the Bridge?

What social codes or mores exist within the Red Hook, Italian American community of the play?

What is the symbolic nature of the Brooklyn Bridge in the play? What worlds does it bring together? What person also acts as a cultural bridge?

What laws do Eddie's actions infringe upon? What is the distinction made between tribal and American law?

Is Eddie a sympathetic hero? What elements of the play allow the audience to sympathize with Eddie? Overall, is the audience led to sympathize with Eddie or criticize his actions?

Who does Eddie betray in the play? How does betrayal work as thematic material? How is Eddie punished for his betrayal?

Characterize the relationship between Beatrice, Eddie and Catherine. What sort of familial taboos do they break? How does their relationship reflect on the American family in a general sense?

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