A View from the Bridge, by Arthur Miller, is a study in manipulation. Throughout the text, the main characters of Eddie, Catherine, Beatrice, Rodolpho and Marco both struggle to dominate others and accept being dominated. The lines of power are drawn quite clearly to begin with; Eddie is evidently the dominant power-holder. However throughout the narrative there is a shift in power and those who once held little sway over others become the deciding forces. This transfer in power becomes apparent to the reader through a variety of techniques, such as dialogue, stage directions (for example, the chair-lifting incident), and non-verbal interaction between the characters.
The first scene I have chosen is when Eddie is waiting outside the house for Catherine and Rodolfo to return from the Paramount in this scene, we see Eddie and Beatrice have a conversation, Eddie starts asking questions about Catherine showing he is worried and concerned about her. We then see Beatrice even though the subject of Rodolfo has not been brought up ask Eddie why he has a problem with Rodolfo. Eddie claims he gives him the heeby- jeebies, what he means by this is entirely up to the audience, the impression I got was that he thinks Rodolfo is homosexual but he is not comfortable using that word himself and he therefore replaces it with heeby-jeebies. He may not like this word as he is homophobic or even homosexual himself. This is the first time we see Eddie on a downward spiral and he hasnt been feeling right lately. Beatrice then asks Eddie when she is going to be a wife again, to which Eddie replies he hasnt been feeling right lately and that Rodolfo has bothered him since he came. This shows that Eddie doesnt like Rodolfo and how close to Catherine he is, and how jealous and angry he is with Rodolfo. Later on in the scene, friends of Eddie who work with him came over to ask if he would like to go bowling. However they end up on the topic of Rodolfo, we see how uncomfortable Eddie is with this in his words and his actions but he does not want to show it to Mike and Louis. They start talking, and then end up talking about Marco, about how strong he is. Mike, grinning then says that the blonde one referring to Rodolfo has a sense of humour. This is a euphemism because he is really saying that Rodolfo is rather odd and people laugh at him, to which Eddie replies in agreement.
But before his words there is a stage direction (searchingly) which shows Eddie doesnt know what to say, and is uncomfortable in the conversation. He is worried that if people laugh at Rodolfo, it may lead to people looking at Eddie funny too. Eddie obviously doesnt want this and he makes him dislike Rodolfo even more. A few lines later Eddie repeats himself by saying (uncomfortably, grinning) Yeah, well..hes got a sense of humour This shows that he doesnt know what to say, so he is just repeating himself and becoming slightly paranoid. Eddie now starts to ask why Rodolfo is being laughed at and what he had done, But after Mike says I dont know and doesnt give a complete, truthful answer to the question. Eddie is troubled, he knows Mike is covering something up and that people dont really think Rodolfo is a funny guy, but that he is someone to be laughed at.
Again Eddie repeats the same line Yeah, well..hes got a sense of humour This gives us further reassurance how Eddie is confused and attached to Catherine, as she appears, back from the Paramount we see a smile appear on Eddies face.
The second scene I have chosen is when Eddie teaches Rodolfo to box. In this scene both are playing light, with Eddie encouraging Rodolfo to hit him, although Rodolfo is unsure about this, and he is apprehensive. Eddie cleverly introduces the subject of boxing (a suitably masculine activity for Eddie) and whilst pretending to teach Rodolfo how to box, hits him directly in the mouth.
For Eddie, this demonstrates to Catherine what a weak man Rodolfo is, and what a strong one he (Eddie) is. It also shows that Eddie thinks women like a strong, dominant, aggressive male.
It all begins when Catherine and Rodolfo begin dancing to the record they have just bought, and Eddie is speaking to Rodolfo. Eddie is saying that if he had all the skills that Rodolfo has such as cooking and singing, then he would do something about it and use his skills. But, by listing all these qualities Eddie is really trying to question Rodolfos masculinity. As soon as Eddie begins talking about this, Catherine and Rodolfo stop dancing and turn the record off. They both know that Eddie is angered by something, as is clear through his actions. Eddie is now scrunching up a newspaper and tears it in two; there is dramatic irony at the time of this scene. The newspaper represents Rodolfo, and Rodolfo is intimidated by what Eddie is doing, in an attempt from Eddie to show his strength and authority. He then stands up and pulls his trousers over his belly, in a display showing that he is satisfied with his actions towards Rodolfo and that he may be about to do something else. He then changes the subject by asking Marco if he has ever seen a boxing match. Obviously because of Eddies mood Marco is uneasy in answering. Eddie then asks Rodolfo whether he and Marco would like to go see a boxing match next week. In the process of asking Rodolfo he calls him Danish which he is using as an insult towards Rodolfos blonde hair. Eddie is sure that Rodolfo will not react, due to Eddies display of authority earlier. The mood around the house is now tense and nervous, so Catherine offers to make some tea, sounding happy and pleased. However we know Catherine is obviously slightly worried and concerned.
My Final scene is when Eddie comes home drunk, and ends up kissing Catherine and Rodolfo. The scene starts with Catherine and Rodolfo in the house alone talking at the table, Rodolfo asks what is wrong with Catherine, saying that she never seems to speak to him anymore, and Rodolfo knows that this is because of Eddie influencing her. Catherine then starts to talk and suggests that the two of them move to Italy when they get married, at first Rodolfo thinks Catherine is joking, when he realises she is serious he becomes concerned, he begins to ask questions such as What would you eat? and Where would you work?. Then Catherine says that the real reason she wants to move is because Eddie is scaring her, she starts explaining that she always imagined that Eddie would be happy when Catherine got married. Catherine then asks Rodolfo to teach her, and he leads her into the bedroom. This leaves the audience to make a decision, are they going to have sex or just to talk.
Later on Eddie walks into the apartment, shouting for Beatrice, Catherine then comes down from the bedroom, adjusting her dress. Again the audience must think, is she adjusting her dress because she has just taken it off or has she been sitting down? After a few seconds Rodolfo walks through the bedroom doorway, was Rodolfo being foolish or did he have nothing to be guilty about?
As he walks out Eddies arm jerks slightly in shock, Eddie obviously thinks they have been up to something. Eddie, drunk, then shouts out Pack it up, Go ahead, get your stuff and get outta here Catherine, instantly, without thinking walks over to Rodolfo, she is standing her ground and showing whose side she is on. Eddie, shocked, asks where she is going. As she replies, she is trembling with fright. She is finding it difficult to stand up to Eddie, and is scared of what he might do, but she knows she has to. She says I think I have to get out of here Eddie As she begins to edge backwards saying she wants to go. Eddie is overcome with emotion and sadness, and he begins to cry. Catherine attempts to comfort Eddie, saying Ill still be in the neighbourhood. Ill come visit. You know I cant stay As Eddie continues to cry Catherine becomes annoyed at how Eddie has reacted to her, she says Oh Dont be like that However Eddie cannot control his emotions as he is drunk, he looks at her, and lets his true feelings out, he suddenly grasps Catherine and kisses her. Eddie has lost it, he knows he is losing everything but he does not want to. Rodolfo, who has been watching the conversation the whole time, grabs him and pulls him away shouting Have respect for her! Eddie, full of rage then replies You want something! Suggesting a fight, Rodolfo says he just wants Catherine, his wife. Eddie is angered at knowing that Rodolfo, somebody he hates, is marrying Catherine, somebody he loves. He then, out of nowhere, grabs Rodolfo and kisses him too. Catherine is outraged; shouting at Eddie, who after releasing Rodolfo, rises with tears in his eyes and begins to laugh, mocking Rodolfo, Catherine is horrified and stares at him as if she doesnt know him anymore. There is now an empty silence between the 3, Eddie gesturing towards Rodolfo, says to Catherine You see? He then turns to Rodolfo Ill Give you till tomorrow; get out of here, alone. Eddie is saying this as if he has won the argument and that Catherine is on his side, but Catherine continues to stand her ground and plans to leave with Rodolfo. Soon enough Eddies authority has been lost and his downfall has come to an end, by Marcos hands.
By the end of A View from the Bridge, the positions of power have changed quite dramatically. The character of Eddie, who was once clearly dominant male, has become disrespected by all, the very thing that he feared. If he had not sought such a totalitarian grasp over the emotions of those around him, he would have earned more respect than by his method of trying to force his way back up the ranks. However, it is unfair to say that he is the only one who manipulates others.