A View From The Bridge: The Theme Of Loyalty And Betrayal
The 1940’s Red Hood an Italian of Italian immigrants who follow a common code of justice of silence .Eddie Carbone, a loving husband and uncle who gets swept by his feelings for his niece and betrays the loyalty of his whole community, family and friends with just a call, making this play a tragedy which could have the same meaning in any time and place.
A view from the bridge setting offers an opportunity to see how important loyalty can be in certain communities. Miller uses several references to Manhattan in the 1950s and the Italian community to set us in time and place. At this specific time, the immigrant communities had their own point of view of and law, following a strict code of silence and protection for the illegal immigrants on the community. This is shown when Eddie , while talking about Catherine about the community tells her an anecdote about a boy called Vinny Bolzano who betrayed his own family and was punished hard by the community “never be(ing) seen no more” after being hardly punished by his father and brother. This is a tool that Arthur Miller created to effectively foreshadow the future of Eddie as a tragic hero, and how he ended up betraying his whole community as Vinny Bolzano did.
Eddie’s and Beatrice’s relationship create a structure to the play. The relationship between Beatrice and Eddie, even though is full of tension noticeable during most of the first and second act, it can really show us how important Beatrice really is in the play and how her everlasting loyalty ended up giving redemption to Eddie as he notices her importance. Beatrice is the one who encourages Catherine to stop with her childish behavior’… be your own self more. You …think you’re a little girl… You gotta give him to understand that he can’t give you orders no more.’ Making her to think about her independence and more about herself. She is who encourages Catherine to go out more with Rodolpho “Are you gonna stand over her till she’s forty? Eddie, I want you to cut it out now” by defending her in front of Eddie and going against his protective personality. Beatrice is also who tells Eddie and Catherine about his feelings for her “Eddie… you can never have her!” This was totally involuntary in an attempt to make her husband forget about hurting Marco but the damage was finally made making Catherine finally understand. She tries constantly to keep her loyalty on Eddie but at the same time her necessity to keep the perfect family structure at all costs is what makes her feel to outburst, creating the most convenient beginning for the climax.
When you first read of A View from the bridge Beatrice doesn’t seem like a character that will get your attention, always out of the main bubble of action, a person whose husband doesn’t love or talk to, someone who is just desperate to keep the pieces of her family together even if she is unhappy acting desperate at times. Her immense love for Eddie makes her loyal until the end even though he betrayed her by not being faithful and feeling things for another woman she is still by his side and follows his command when he forbids her on going to Catharine’s wedding “I can’t”. She also keeps defending Eddie when Catherine starts standing for herself “Stop it!” and even putting herself in the same box as Eddie “We all belong in the garbage”. As strong as Eddie’s beliefs are that he can go against everything to stay loyal to himself, Beatrice’s are stronger in a way as she went against her beliefs, Catherine, her family and the community (as she keeps being loyal to a traitor).
In this play, there is a very important character who is easy to spot as they act not only as a vital character but also as a Greek chorus -a character in Greek tragedies who watches the action, comments on it talking like this directly to the audience-. Alfieri is a born-Italian who has been living on the United States since decades, he works as a lawyer on Red Hook something rather unusual as the majority of the people on the neighborhood are illegal immigrants, with this we can clearly see how his morals and his ideas do not follow a strict pattern of black and white. He is on the side of the law when Eddie goes to him begging for a law to stop the wedding by simply stating “[He has] no recourse in the law”, here even though he is entire with the law he doesn’t talk about the possibility of deporting Rodolpho, Marco or any illegal immigrants as he had been in that position before; this shows us how he stays loyal to the community regardless of the American law. After Rodolpho and Marco are imprisoned because of Eddie he goes and show the readers(or viewers) for the first time how he, against the law, leaves the events to occur by themselves concluding on the death of Rodolpho because of Marco’s self-defense;he, after all, knew Marco’s personality and how his family and his pride were before any American law as he probably, as an immigrant have felt that before, and even if he knew Marco’s future actions he let them out fold. The last moment where part of his loyalty is shown on his last dialogue of the play, finally closing it where he admits “[he] mourns [Eddie] – I admit it – with a certain…alarm’ His lawful and logical mind is kind of distressed by those thoughts but at the same time he (strangely even for himself) admires Eddie’s refusal to ‘settle for half’. Alfieri through this play is as troubled as most of the characters even if he seems intelligent and relaxed, he slips and shows how troubled he id between his routes, the law, and his perspective gives of right and wrong . I think at the end he ends up being loyal to his different views of life as an illegal immigrant and lawyer.
Eddie’s character and loyalty is a very interesting theme to explore. At the beginning we can notice how strong his bond is with his family, especially his niece whom he had adopted as her parents died, he is also really close to the Italian community which he is part of with some of his friends and his lawyer which he talks about his problems to. Like this, we can talk about Eddie’s loyalty and betrayal by separating everyone he is related in two groups his family and his community(which was talked about before). If we start by his Family we need to talk about how his relationship changed for us as readers from the beginning to the middle and end to the play. At first we can see how of a normal and fraternal relationship he has with his adoptive daughter Catherine, but after some more pages and while reaching the climax of the story we can understand his real feelings for her ;at the beginning his loyalty for her was doubtless ,this ,until he started talking about her and making decisions without her opinion being asked as if she was a mere toy achieving a level of possessiveness where he even lies about Rodolpho’s real reason for wanting to marry her saying things like “he’s only bowin’ to his passport”; for Catherine Eddie has undoubtedly been loyal and respect full to her but that rapidly changed to a strong possessiveness who was hidden from himself as a form of love . Another key person and Eddie’s last known family member is his wife, her loyalty for him was visibly but he stopped being loyal to her outside and inside marriage by having feelings for another woman and by not trusting her enough to tell her his worries; he at the beginning had very minimal loyalty for her which started to fade away as the climax started and which appeared suddenly at the end of the play when he only thinks about her on his death “My B!”.
For me this play Is a good representation of how betrayal can only be achieved when one of the two parties believe there is any kind of loyalty between them, and the higher the expectations of the loyalty the most painful the betrayal gets , as happened with Beatrice. Here it can also be appreciated how being loyal to oneself is as important as being loyal to someone else. Opening the question: What is more important being loyal to someone you love or to yourself? This play opens a lot of questions about Eddie’s position as an antagonist or a tragic hero , something that would have been unachievable if his loyalty and other characters’ loyalty didn’t shift.