Sunday, July 22, 2012

A view from the bridge

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Discuss the importance of stage directions in Arthur Millers “A View from the Bridge” and what they reveal about the character.

The play is about a man called Eddie Carbone who is unaware that he has feelings for his niece (who isn’t blood related). In this essay will we be discussing how the stage directions help to find out about the character inside.

In plays, you can’t just have writing. The writing only what you say but without stage directions, you wouldn’t know how it was said. For instance, if you said, “What did I do?” and there were no stage directions by it, you could take it anyway and read it unenthusiastically, too enthusiastically or just not how it was supposed to have been read out.

But stage directions also have different jobs. They don’t just have to be about how the words are said, they also show what the character is doing as they say what they say, which shows how the character really feels.

Many people use stage directions. The director uses stage directions to guide the people in the play and the actors use it as information as how they are to act out what they are saying.

In the play, Eddie Carbone is a protagonist, which means he is the most important character of the play and commits a terrible offence, often unknowingly. He must then learn his fault, suffer and perhaps die. When writers want to show a person who represents a nation or class, they typically invent fictitious “ordinary” person, the man in the street of Joe public. In Eddie Carbone, Miller creates this type of person. He is a very ordinary man, decent, hard working and charitable, a man no one could dislike. But, like the protagonist of the ancient drama, he has a flaw or weakness. This, in turn, causes him to act wrongly. The consequences, social and psychological, of his wrong action destroy him. The chorus figure, Alfieri, then explains why it is better to be civilised and settle for half, thus restoring the normal moral order of the universe.

If Eddie is meant to represent everyman, does this mean that Miller believes all men love their nieces (those who have nieces)? Of course not. What Miller does suggest is that we have basic impulses, which civilisation has seen as harmful to society, and taught us to control. We have self-destructive urges, too, but normally we deny these. Eddie does not really understand his improper desire, and thus is unable to hide it from those around him or from the audience. In him we see the primitive impulse naked, as it were this explains Alfieris puzzling remark that Eddie allowed himself to be perfectly known.

Clearly, Eddie is, in the classical Greek sense, the protagonist of the play. Alfieri tells us this at the end of his opening address This ones name was Eddie Carbone... Eddie is the subject of Alfieris narrative, and all other characters are seen in relation to him. We are shown at first a good man who seems perfectly happy he has the dignity of a job he does well, he is liked in the close-knit community of Red Hook, he has the love of wife and foster-daughter/niece, and his doubts about Catherines prospective job are not very serious.

Eddie is inarticulate and isn’t aware of any feelings he may have for Catherine. The stage directions help us see that he does but isn’t aware of them. The stage directions are vital in this play as Eddie and the other characters speak in restricted code.

In the times when the play was set, it was classed as a crime to “rat” on your family. The Italians were very strict when it came to things like that. Betraying your family was worse than murder in their culture.

Psychologists say that non-verbal communication is % of all communication (tone, body language etc). 7% is what people take it (words, speech).

The play opens with the stage directions describing Eddie’s house. Miller describes the house as “a worker’s flat, clean, sparse, homely.” After Alfieri introducing the play we get to meet Eddie.

Showing a happy domestic scene is a favourite device of Millers. Next a catalyst is introduced, and we see, by steady and inexorable stages how the happiness is destroyed. A catalyst is literally something, which speeds up a chemical reaction; in this play it refers metaphorically to Rodolpho, one of Beatrices illegal immigrant cousins. Catherines attraction to him brings Eddies love for his niece into the open. This unlawful love first appears in Eddies obsessive concern with Catherines appearance and way of dressing When he walks into the apartment, Catherine immediately says hello to him. The stage directions tell us he is pleased but therefore shy about it. Usually a niece would say hello to her uncle, and he wouldn’t get shy so the reader instantly gets the feeling there is something going on just from that line. He then notices that she is wearing something nice. “Where you going all dressed up?” (Catherine runs her hands over her skirt) “I just got it. You like it?” Eddie makes her twirl for him so he could see the behind. A normal uncle wouldn’t make his niece do this and I doubt a niece would let him. Eddie doesn’t like it though, I think its too short, he says of a dress. He goes on Katie, you are walkin wavy! I dont like the looks theyre givin you in the candy store. And with them new high heels on the sidewalk - clack, clack, clack. The heads are turnin like windmills. This is showing that he’s getting paranoid that people will start to show an interest in her.

On page 6, it shows how Catherine thinks of Eddie. “(Nearly in tears because he disapproves)” If a teenager brought something they liked and their guardian didn’t like it, I doubt they would be near tears because of it.

On pages 11 � 1, you see more of the relationship. Eddie isn’t happy about Catherine getting a job. He then says, “With your hair that way you look like a Madonna, you know that? You’re the Madonna type.” Madonna means the mother of Christ, a virgin type. When he says that she can go to work “(She looks at him, then rushes and hugs him.) Hey, hey! Take is easy! (He holds her face away from him to look at her.)” This affects him.

Page 15 Catherine gets Eddie a cigar. There is a phallic symbol, which is in the shape of a penis. Lighting someone’s cigar without asking is supposed to be an intimate thing. Than Eddie says to her “Don’t burn yourself.” This if you cross reference it means that Catherine will get her wings burnt if she isn’t careful by what her and Eddie are doing. “(Just in time Catherine blows out the match)” Suggesting maybe she could stop if before it gets too far.

Page 16 is the arrival of Marco and Rodolfo. This is where everything will start to go wrong. Eddie can see that Catherine has an interest in Rodolfo who is young and good-looking. He is immediately unwarily threatened.

Page 1, the family find out about Rodolfo’s talent. He can sing. Catherine is mesmerised by it and Eddie tries to put a stop to it by telling Rodolfo he will be picked on at the pier for it. Eddie than tells Catherine to take her heels off. He doesn’t want Catherine to look nice for Rodolfo. “(Embarrassed now, angered, Catherine goes into the bedroom.) When Catherine comes back out, Rodolfo makes a comment about how pretty Catherine is and Eddie begins to realise the threat and sizes Rodolfo up.

Page , Beatrice accuses Eddie of being jealous of Rodolfo because he’s young, good-looking and can sing. Eddie responds “Of him? Boy, you don’t think much of me.” Eddie is infact waiting for Catherine to get back from a date she has had with Rodolfo. Beatrice is suspicious of something as we can tell when she tells him he’s jealous. It was only around 8 and Eddie was waiting for them. Eddie starts to bad mouth Rodolfo off to Beatrice. “And with that wacky hair; he’s like a chorus girl of sump’m.” Beatrice tries to turn Eddie towards her but he won’t look her in the eye. It’s obvious that their marriage is going through problems. Beatrice then mentions what’s on her mind. “When am I gonna be a wife again, Eddie?” Meaning that they haven’t had sex in a while. Eddie’s excuse is “I ain’t been feelin’ good. They bother me since they came.” We know this is because Eddie is feeling like he is loosing Catherine. “It’s almost months you don’t feel good.” The brothers have only been with them a couple of weeks.

Page 6, Catherine and Rodolfo return from their date. Eddie realises how much fun Catherine had and asks to speak with her alone. “I want to talk to her a minute, Rodolfo. Go inside, will you?” Eddie takes this opportunity to try and put Catherine off Rodolfo. He states that he only wants her for his citizenship, that he doesn’t respect Eddie or Catherine and that he’s gay. “Katie, he’s only bowin’ to his passport.”

Page , Beatrice comes out after Catherine becomes upset with Eddie disliking Rodolfo so much. Beatrice knows of what Eddie’s doing and blows up at Eddie. “(Suddenly, with open fright and fury) You going to leave her alone?” Eddie is guilty and walks out the house. Beatrice tries to calm Catherine down. “If it was a prince came here for you it would be no different.” Beatrice also tries to hint to Catherine that Eddie might have more feelings for her than normal, but Catherine doesn’t get it. “Or like you sit on the edge of the bathtub talking to him when he’s shaving in his underwear.”

Page 1, Eddie goes to Alfieri. He tries to get law involved in the affair. But he doesn’t want to rat on them being their illegally. “His eyes were like tunnels; my first thought was that he had committed a crime.” Alfieri realises of Eddie’s feelings for Catherine and tries to warn Eddie off. “She wants to get married, Eddie. She can’t marry you.” Before this Eddie refers to Rodolfo as a “Goddam thief.” He has stolen Catherine from him.

Page . Catherine asks Rodolfo to dance. “(She has taken his hand and he stiffly rises, feeling Eddie’s eyes on his back.) As they dance Eddie hides behind his newspaper. He doesn’t want them to see he’s upset. It represents a shield for him. When he hears Rodolfo cooks he lowers the newspaper � the shield. Eddie tries to embarrass Rodolfo by pointing out that he can cook, sing and make dresses and has been unconsciously rolling the newspaper into a tight roll. He would like to do this to Rodolfo. Eddie then challenges Rodolpho to a fight. He leads him on knowing it’s just an excuse to hit him and make him look like a fool in front of everyone, especially Catherine. “(He feints with his left hand and lands with his right. It mildly staffers Rodolfo. Marco rises.)” Marco can tell something is going on and is ready to back his brother up. Rodolfo tells them it surprised him and looks at Eddie and then takes Catherine’s hand and dances with her. This is to say that Eddie may be stronger, but Rodolfo has the girl. Marco wants to now embarrass Eddie so he asks him if he could lift the chair by its legs. When Eddie fails, he thinks there’s a trick behind it. But there isn’t and Marco lifts the chair. “(Marco raises the chair over his head. Marco is face to face with Eddie, a strained tension gripping his eyes and jaw, his neck stiff, the chair raised like a weapon over Eddie’s head.)” Marco gives Eddie a glare of warning but then transfers it to a smile wiping the grin off Eddie’s face. Eddie is aware that he won’t be able to mess with Marco but that doesn’t stop his obsession with Catherine.

Page 47, Eddie comes home drunk and sees Catherine and Rodolfo come out of the bedroom. We are not sure if they have had sex or not. Eddie assumes they have. He goes mad. “Pack it up. Go ahead. Get your stuff and get outa here.” When he says that, Catherine goes to pack her things too but Eddies grabs her arm. She tells him that she has to go too. She’s scared of him. Eddie refuses to let her go. Both out of the house and in his heart. He kisses her. “(He reaches out suddenly, draw her to him, and as she strives to free herself he kisses her on the mouth.)” This we know is the last straw, the point of no return. Rodolfo begins to pull on Eddie. Eddie then tries to point out that he’s gay and kisses him also. It’s as if he’s trying to say, I kissed your girl and I’m gonna kiss you and there’s nothing you can do about it. “She tears at Eddie’s face.” Catherine is trying desperately to get Eddie off Rodolfo. “(He stands there with tears rolling down his face as he laughs mockingly at Rodolfo.)” Eddie is going mad. He has lost sight of reality and isn’t sure what he’s doing. The drink has brought out his true feelings.

Page 48, Eddie’s goes back to Alfieri in attempts to try and do something to get Rodolfo out the way. He points out that Rodolfo must be gay because of the way he couldn’t stop Eddie from kissing him. “I’m tellin’ you I know � he aint right.” Alfieri tries one last time to warn Eddie off but Eddie won’t listen. “Let her go and bless her.” As Alfieri is talking, a phone starts to light up in the background. This is a Motif � a reoccurring symbol that means something important. When Eddie leaves Alfieri’s office, the phone is glowing brightly. We know he will make a fatal mistake.

Page 50, Eddie calls the Immigration Bureau. Short sentences begin to tell us how bad his mistake is. “(He dials)” He is being questionnaire further but Louis and Mike come around the corner so he hangs up. When he gets home he finds out that the brothers and Catherine have moved out into an old ladies apartment and Lipari the butcher and his nephew. “(In a driving fright and anger.)” We can tell by this that Lipari may be someone you don’t want to mess with. Then the immigration Bureau knocks at the door. The look on Eddie’s face as they demand they open the door tells Beatrice it was him that called them. “(Weakened with fear) Oh, Jesus, Eddie.” Marco also knows. He spits in Eddie’s face. To spit in someone’s face means you want to fight them and that they have disgraced themselves. Their name has been put to shame. In front of everyone outside Marco accuses Eddie. “That one, I accuse that one.” After this no one wants to talk to Eddie. “Louis! Louis! (Louis barely turns, then walks off.) Eddie has lost his respect.

The climax of the play is like the showdown at the end of a western. Beatrice has now shouted in front of Catherine what Eddie actually wants. “You want something else, Eddie, and you can never have her.” Marco is coming to punish Eddie; Eddie in return will demand his name back. Marco believes it is dishonourable to let Eddie live, but has given his word not to kill him. Eddies pulling a knife means that Marco can see justice done, while keeping his word. Again the action is symbolic of the plays deeper meaning. Eddie literally dies by his own hand, which holds the knife, and is killed by his own weapon; but Eddie also metaphorically destroys himself, over the whole course of the play. He falls to his knees at Marco’s feet, which is humiliating for someone to do. And this is what Alfieri introduces to at the plays opening the sight of a man destroying himself, while those around him are as powerless as a theatre audience to prevent it. Earlier in the play, Eddie has told the story of Vinnie Bolzano, precisely to show us his belief in loyalty to family and community. There is also irony in Eddies doing exactly the same thing of which he has spoken with such horror. Eddie has warned Catherine you can quicker get back a million dollars that was stole than a word that you gave away. Now he finds this to be true.

Eddie is a suitable subject for a modern tragedy because the potential for self-destruction, which is in all of us, in Eddies case has destroyed him. And apart from this improper love, Eddie is a good man; and this love has its origin in the quite proper love of father for child, and Eddies sense of duty to his family and community. This is shown in the early part of the play in the love and trust Catherine and Beatrice have for Eddie, and of what we learn of his hustling for work when Catherine was a baby. Eddie is a very ordinary man, a decent and well-liked man, and yet the one flaw in his character forces those around him and Alfieri to watch powerless (as does the audience) as the case runs its bloody course.

The stage directions in this play have helped us understand how Eddie Carbone works inside because he is Emotionally illiterate. He wasn’t aware of his feelings even when Beatrice told him he acted shocked. I feel that the stage directions in this play have told us more about Eddie than his words because what he says and how he acts are two completely different things. And actions are often louder than words.

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