A view from the Bridge Drama Arthur Miller Studying Drama

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A View from the Bridge

  • Drama - Arthur Miller

Studying Drama

  • Author’s Purpose – Theme(s) and Message
  • Dialogue, monologue, soliloquy
  • Characterisation – Major/Minor, Key Relationships, Conflicts
  • Context and Setting
  • Structure: exposition, climax, denouement
  • Plot and Key Scenes
  • Symbolism
  • Style and Tone
  • Aspects of staging: stage directions, lighting, set, music

Background and Context

  • Find out some facts about the following:
  • The (1950s) Red Hook Community in Brooklyn, New York, longshoremen
  • Arthur Miller
  • The McCarthy trials and Arthur Miller
  • The stimulus for the play and its development

Arthur Miller

  • Born in New York, October 17th 1915 to a Jewish family
  • Grandparents moved from Poland to America
  • Father owned successful clothing business, family lived in Harlem
  • Failed in 1929 economic depression – moved to Brooklyn
  • Began to write plays as a student & after graduated in 1938 – became a journalist
  • Worked various jobs – Salesman, worked in a warehouse in Brooklyn
  • Between journalist and writer – 2 years in Brooklyn shipyards
  • 3 marriages – divorced college sweetheart in 1956, Marilyn Monroe (divorced 1961), photographer Inge Morath
  • All My Sons (1947), Death of a Salesman (1949), The Crucible (1952) – confirmed as great playwright
  • Died in 2005, aged 89. Regarded as one of greatest 20th century dramatists

Red Hook and Longshoremen

  • In Brooklyn – slum area of New York (across Brooklyn Bridge)
  • One of 1st neighbourhoods to be settled – Dutch Settlers 1636 named after red soil & hook-like shape
  • 1850 – one of busiest ports
  • Community of longshoremen & dockworkers – mostly Italian – developed late 19th century
  • Tough neighbourhood – Al Capone’s
  • 1st home & scene of 1st crimes – got
  • wound which inspired nickname
  • ‘Scarface’

Red Hook and Longshoremen

  • Miller explored & researched neighbourhood – struck by complex Mafia power structure lurking beneath placid surface
  • Trip to Italy – marvelled at continuity of traditions, power structures & work habits
  • 1950s Golden age of longshoremen community – 21000 living in row houses (built 1936)
  • Technological changes left neighbourhood economically devastated
  • Brooklyn more accessible but Red
  • Hook left isolated

McCarthy Trials & Arthur Miller

  • Period of political persecution during 1950s – led by senator McCarthy
  • Public officials & private citizens accused of being Communists or Communist sympathisers
  • Most of evidence fabricated but induced atmosphere of suspicion & paranoia that destroyed many careers
  • Term come to signify any reckless political persecution or witch-hunt
  • Miller asked to testify before House of Un-American Activities Committee – heroically refused to name names (link to loyalty within play & Eddie’s actions) – allowed him to find emotional connection with the play & revise script
  • Charged for contempt following year but later reversed by U.S Court of Appeals

Stimulus and Development of Play

  • Most of work set in America of his day & portrays realistic characters & events
  • Deals with political & moral issues, weaving in ideas from Greek Tragedy
  • Interested in how personal relationships dictate how one leads one’s life
  • Also interested in people’s struggles to do what is right
  • 1947 – researching Pete Panto (young longshoreman executed by mob)
  • Befriended Italian community – sympathised with them = poorly paid, treated badly, exploited by people who brought them to America – left to fend for selves after debts paid back
  • Workers waited at docks for jobs – humiliating & employers had too much control

Stimulus and Development of Play

  • Inspired by stories from docks
  • Friend told of dream in which he was attracted to cousin – Miller suggested might mean he wanted incestuous relationship but he was horrified & refused to accept (Eddie/Alfieri)
  • Story of longshoreman who betrayed own relatives by going to Immigration – attempting to prevent marriage between one of the brothers & niece. Scorned & ostracized by community & disappeared (rumour one of brothers killed him) – Rodolpho/Catherine & Eddie’s reaction to relationship
  • 8 years later, in 1955 a one-act version based on this story was presented

Stimulus and Development of Play

  • Poorly received by New York critics – only 158 performances
  • So complete & shocking Miller did not wish to adorn tale but rather lay out facts in action-orientated, objective tale
  • Result = cold, un-engaging – Miller admitted it was an experiment away from psychological realism which dominated American theatre
  • Revised script – staged in London, rave reviews
  • Enlarged female characters, greater role in Eddie’s fate
  • Set more realistic, eliminated use of verse & relationship between Eddie & Catherine played
  • down, final scene altered

The Greek Tragedy

  • “I wanted to write a play that had the cleanliness… the clear line of some of the Greek tragedies. Meaning that we would be confronted with a situation that we would be told in effect what the ending was. The question was not what was going to happen, but how it was going to happen”
  • Arthur Miller on the Dramatic Nature of the play.

Important Features of the Greek Tragedy

  • Takes place in single location
  • Tragic Hero (Eddie) – A character of noble stature & greatness, readily evident in play, occupies a ‘high’ status position, ALSO must embody nobility & virtue as part of innate character
  • Not perfect – we must be able to identify – must see as essentially like us
  • Downfall partially his/her own fault = free choice. Triggered by error of judgement or character flaw: Hamartia = Tragic Flaw (Eddie’s self-interest & denial)
  • Punishment not wholly deserved – exceeds crime
  • Fall not pure loss = some increase in awareness, gain in self-knowledge, discovery (Eddie’s final lines)
  • Arouses solemn emotion but offer catharsis
  • - cleanse us of ‘unhealthy’ emotions
  • (contribute to good health of community)

Greek Chorus

  • Originally a group (up to 50 members) – several techniques: singing, dancing, narrating, acting
  • Provide background and summary information to help audience follow performance – comment on themes
  • Often express what the main characters cannot say – hidden fears, secrets
  • Alfieri (the Lawyer) performs role of Greek chorus – commentator
  • Tells the story in flashbacks focussing on key scenes/moments
  • Tells us what is going to happen, teller of incredible story that he is powerless to change – reminds us of inevitability of ending
  • Arouses solemn emotion but offer catharsis
  • - cleanse us of ‘unhealthy’ emotions
  • (contribute to good health of community)
  • A view from the bridge = an elevated position of moral superiority in this case. Alfieri’s view from the bridge: Sees the imminent danger but is powerless to stop it.
  • A view from a bridge would also give a wider view of an area; therefore, he is able to quickly interpret the reasons behind Eddie’s behaviour rightly as improper feelings for his niece; it takes Beatrice, who lives with him, longer. She is too close to the action and can’t see the truth in front of her; he is removed and able to view the conflict as it arises. Eddie also refuses to acknowledge the truth even when it is pointed out.
  • Most of the action is set in the Carbones’ home but it is also important that we see their position as part of the community, especially towards the end of the play, when their private tragedy is played out in public.
  • What is the symbolism of the title?
  • Symbolic of pathway of opportunity to Manhattan
  • Linkage between American & Italian cultures – important as Eddie has to battle between his Italian community values (loyalty & honour) and American Law & Order
  • Close to Red Hook – constant reminder of American opportunity & industry – what Rodolpho craves
  • Can view entire community below – seek greater abstract meaning from viewpoint
  • Alfieri symbolic of person on bridge looking upon community OR perhaps bridge himself – allowing people to cross into Manhattan & modern, intellectual American culture
  • Attempts to unite American law with Italian cultural practices – negotiate place between two
  • Narrates from present into past – same vantage point as one looking from bridge
  • As time passes – process events & see greater societal & moral implications it has for community as a whole
  • What is the symbolism of the title – Brooklyn Bridge?
  • Structure
  • = a well structured play with uncomplicated shape
  • Two Acts but within these, there are a number of easily defined divisions which are controlled by Alfieri’s commentary/musings/reflections.
  • Alfieri = essential to structure: he opens and closes the play and moves the action quickly onwards through commenting on Eddie’s moral transgression.
  • All the action revolves around Eddie Carbone whose character is central focus of the drama. When he is calm and friendly, the atmosphere is relaxed. When he is tense and hostile, the atmosphere again mirrors this and becomes uncomfortable/strained with Beatrice and Catherine frequently trying to placate him.
  • There are a number of tense moments within the two Acts which echo one another. The controlled hostility at the end of Act I where Eddie teaches Rodolpho to box and Marco responds by warning Eddie under the guise of the chair lift/show of strength. This progresses into the unpleasant hostility at the beginning of Act II when Eddie kisses Catherine and Rodolpho. The final inevitable explosive ending is justified when we consider the chain of events leading up to it.
  • As you read the play, it is important to imagine yourself watching and listening to the action. It is a drama, not a novel. The stage directions are important in helping us to imagine exactly what is going on: they can help us picture each character's actions and reactions.
  • During the course of A View from the Bridge the Carbone family change from a poor but loving family into one torn apart by mistrust, jealousy and violence. Ask yourself what happens to create such a dramatic contrast. How is the tension maintained and the audience involved?


  • Carbone family = Eddie (tragic hero), Beatrice (his wife), Catherine (Beatrice’s sister’s daughter)
  • At start, family are content, close . Eddie is dominant male, loving, well respected and overly protective
  • They are going to take in Beatrice’s cousins who are illegal immigrants looking for work
  • Rodolpho and Catherine begin to form a relationship which Eddie is jealous of
  • He tries to prevent the relationship and seeks advice from Alfieri (the lawyer)
  • When he does not get the advice he wants to hear, and is not successful in splitting the two up, he commits the ultimate betrayal
  • This leads to his family and the community turning against him
  • Marco seeks his revenge which leads to the inevitable tragic conclusion
  • Act I Part a p1-7

Act 1 – Part a: pg1-7

  • Alfieri sets the scene and introduces Eddie’s story; Eddie arrives home with news of cousins’ arrival.
  • What is revealed through Alfieri’s opening speech about the setting, situation and themes of the play? What function do you think Alfieri will have in the drama?
  • How are the Carbone family presented at the start of the play? Consider them as individuals and as a family unit.
  • Why is Beatrice so nervous and worried about the arrival of the cousins? How does Eddie ease her worries and what does this suggest about Eddie’s character at this point in the play?
  • Alfieri is established immediately as the commentator. He introduces the play, narrates the story in flashback, focussing on key scenes, then closes the play. He is in control and we trust him. He is like the Chorus in a Greek tragedy, explaining the events on stage to the audience without actually participating in them.
  • He is reflective/pensive and admits sadly that he tends to ‘notice the ruins in things’ (p2)
  • Although he does play some part in the action, it is clear that he was ‘powerless’ (p2) and that nothing he could have done would have altered the ‘bloody course’ (p2.) He tells us right from the start what is going to happen: dramatic interest is maintained because we want to find out how.
  • He reminds us at various intervals during the play that the ending is inevitable, such as near the end of Act 1: ‘ could see every step coming, step after step, like a dark figure walking down a hall towards a certain door.’ p38 Thus conveying the power of Eddie’s feelings for Catherine – he is powerless to contain/overcome them; likewise, Alfieri can not prevent something so intense/powerful from occurring despite his best efforts to advise Eddie to turn away from her: ‘The child has to grow up and go away, and the man has to learn to forget. Let her go.’ (p36)

Act 1 – Part b: pg7-15

  • Catherine tells Eddie about her job opportunity; Eddie reminds Catherine & Beatrice not to speak about cousins and tells the story of Vinny Bolzano.
  • What are Eddie’s concerns about Catherine getting a job as a stenographer?
  • What does Beatrice suggest is behind Eddie’s reluctance and how does Eddie react to this?
  • Why does Eddie again warn the two women not to talk about the cousins outside of the house?
  • What is the significance of Vinny Bolzano’s story being told? What is surprising about the story and how do the family react to the story? What does it tell us about the Red Hook, Italian community?
  • What signs are there in this section of the closeness between Eddie & Catherine? Is there anything unusual about their relationship?
  • Act I Part c (p15-23)

Act 1 – Part c: pg15-23

  • The cousins arrive and the characters of Marco and Rodolpho are introduced as they settle in; initial signs of conflict emerging between Eddie and Rodolpho
  • What differences are there between the two brothers, Marco and Rodolpho?
  • How are the conditions back in their hometown in Italy contrasted with the conditions in America?
  • What seems to attract Catherine to Rodolpho and what signs are there of this attraction?
  • What indications are there that Eddie has taken a dislike to Rodolpho? Why do you think this is?
  • Why do you think Eddie tells Catherine to take off her heels? How do Beatrice and Catherine react to this?

Act 1 – Part d: pg23-33

  • A few weeks have passed, Catherine & Rodolpho have fallen in love and return from the cinema; Beatrice hopes they will marry but Eddie does not approve
  • What meaning does Alfieri’s opening comment have? What ‘might be discovered’ and what could the ‘trouble that would not go away’ be?
  • What reasons does Eddie give to Beatrice for not wanting Rodolpho to court & marry Catherine? What does he try to suggest about him?
  • What does Beatrice say she is more worried about and how does Eddie react to this?
  • How does Eddie try to put Catherine off marrying Rodolpho and how does Catherine react to this?
  • What advice does Beatrice give to Catherine?
  • Act I Part e (p33-46)

Act 1 – Part e: pg33-46

  • What does Alfieri’s description of Eddie tell us about the character’s mood at this stage?
  • How does Eddie progress his argument about his case against Rodolpho in this section and what does he want Alfieri to do? How does Miller convey Eddie’s desperation at this point?
  • What legal & personal advice does Alfieri give to Eddie? What is perhaps surprising about Alfieri’s position regarding the illegal immigration?
  • What does Alfieri mean by ‘I could have finished the whole story that afternoon’? What effect does this closing section have?
  • What signs are there of the increasing tension in the house?
  • What is the significance of the boxing at the end of the Act and Marco’s challenge to Eddie to lift the chair?
  • Act I Part e:
  • (Eddie tries to prove Rodolpho is ‘a weird.’ Marco warns Eddie he will intervene if needed.)
  • The trial of strength between Marco and Eddie is full of tension and pathos. While Eddie pretends he wants to teach Rodolpho, but in fact wishes to show how feminine he is and how macho he himself is, the tension is shown through the reactions of the other characters:
  • Beatrice, although initially concerned, sees only good spirited camaraderie.
  • Catherine is afraid for Rodolpho’s safety and realises that Eddie wishes to cause him harm under the disguise of teaching him to box. She also makes it clear here that she has chosen her side: Rodolpho (she rushes to his side in stage directions -p45.)
  • Marco stands back and watches initially analysing Eddie’s behaviour before deciding how to respond. He realises Eddie’s actions are hostile and so challenges him to a trial of strength.
  • The contest is important as it foreshadows what will happen later in the play: Marco will always be loyal to Rodolpho and defend him. It also conveys that Marco is stronger and if Eddie continues to be aggressive, Marco will intervene, and he will win. This is a clear warning to Eddie and he understands this (‘the chair raised like a weapon.’ ‘Eddie’s grin vanishes as he absorbs [Marco’s] look’p46)

Act 2 – Part a: pg47-59

  • Nearly Christmas, Catherine & Rodolpho are alone in the house together; Eddie returns home drunk & challenges Rodolpho; Eddie returns to Alfieri then phone the Immigration Bureau
  • What evidence is there that Catherine has been affected by Eddie’s accusations and how does Rodolpho respond to her worries? What does Catherine reveal about her feelings towards Eddie?
  • What provokes Eddie to throw Rodolpho out and why do you think Eddie kisses both Catherine and Rodolpho?
  • How does Alfieri make more direct references to Eddie’s improper love of his niece and the consequences of Eddie remaining on his current course? How is Alfieri’s powerlessness again shown?
  • What do you think motivates Eddie to call the Immigration Bureau at this point in the play? Why is this a significant shift in his character?
  • Why do you think Eddie keeps speaking about respect to Beatrice in the next section?
  • How does Beatrice try to mediate between Catherine & Eddie and what does Eddie try to persuade Catherine to do?

Act 2 – Part b: pg59-67

  • The Immigration Officers turn up to arrest Marco & Rodolpho; Eddie is suspected of being the informant and Marco spits in Eddie’s face; Alfieri gets bail for M&R on condition Marco will not kill Eddie
  • Why does news of Lipari’s two other boarders concern Eddie?
  • What is the significance of the timing of the Immigration Officers’ arrival?
  • Why is it important that the drama of the men being arrested happens in front of the community? What is most important to both Marco & Eddie in this scene?
  • Why does Marco find it so difficult to promise not to hurt Eddie? How does Marco prove himself to be a better man than Eddie?
  • How do the other characters convince Marco to make the promise to secure bail?
  • Act II Part c (p67-72)

Act 2 – Part c: pg67-72

  • Day of the wedding, Eddie still refuses to go; Marco turns up at the house & neither man will back down so they fight and Eddie dies on blade of own knife; Alfieri closes play commenting on how senseless Eddie’s death was.
  • How does Catherine finally assert her independence from Eddie in this final section and why do you think Beatrice tries to mediate, even now?
  • What is Eddie seeking at the end of the play? Why will he not accept Rodolpho’s apology?
  • Why does Beatrice say that seeking revenge with Marco will not satisfy Eddie or mean anything to him? How does Eddie react to this?
  • Why do you think Miller makes Eddie die on his own knife? Marco comes to the house despite giving his word to Alfieri. Does this make him dishonourable? Who appears the most dishonourable at the end & how is this conveyed?
  • Why does Eddie die in the arms of Beatrice, not Catherine? What is the significance of his final words?
  • What is the significance of Alfieri’s closing words to the play as a whole?
  • Playwright’s purpose
  • In pairs, discuss what you think the playwright's purpose is (what key themes/message does Miller wish to teach us? What does he want us to learn? How does he wish us to use this information in our own day to day lives?)
  • Teaches us the importance of honour, loyalty and respect in life. If we don’t adhere to our morals and live a decent, measured life, there will be consequences.
  • Teaches us to follow laws, rules that society etc. sets and if we break these, again lives can be ruined and justice will be served.
  • Teaches us to show restraint and control in our everyday lives and think carefully about our behaviour/thoughts/desires prior to acting so that we are aware that there will be adverse consequences if we fail to do this/act immorally.
  • Teaches us that we can not enforce justice; we must rely on the legal system/God to do this; it is not up to us to judge, condemn and punish.


  • For each of these Symbols, analyse how they are used within the play and what they represent. Illustrate with quotations where relevant. How do they contribute to wider themes and ideas?


  • For each of these Motifs, analyse how they are used within the play and what they represents. Illustrate with quotations where relevant. How do they contribute to wider themes and ideas?
  • Homosexuality
  • Womanhood
  • Community

Important Quotations

  • Just remember, kid, you can quicker get back a million dollars that was stole than a word that you gave away. (Act 1, p13)
  • CONTEXT: Eddie says this to Catherine after they have been talking about Vinny Bolzano. This section relates to the themes of family/community loyalty and American law.


  • Reveals/exposes irony and madness of Eddie’s character
  • Lectures Catherine about how they must not tell anyone of cousins & warns of consequences
  • Story and comment foreshadows Eddie’s fate
  • Spends rest of play ‘giving away words’ – contrasts with Marco’s silence
  • Tragedy fore-grounded – Eddie is aware of consequences/own fate but cannot control his own self-interest – cannot escape fate
  • Remains powerless (like Alfieri) or too mad to stop it
  • Miller sets up Eddie so vehemently against betrayal that his transition to betrayer seems illogical
  • Set-up requires him to undergo a drastic change/complete breakdown
  • Force of transition reinforces his self-destructive madness & deepness of unspoken love of niece

Important Quotations

  • 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. (Act 1, p33)
  • CONTEXT: Alfieri describes his first impressions of Eddie on his first visit to the lawyer. Eddie seeks to have Catherine and Rodolpho’s relationship stopped by American law on the grounds that Rodolpho is ‘not right’ and that he wishes only to marry her for a passport.


  • Alfieri seems to fear Eddie as a paranormal beast (remnant of Greek/Roman tragedy
  • Eddie seems almost possessed, emphasising Alfieri’s feelings of powerlessness to control him
  • Passion = passion for niece
  • Unreleased & suppressed in his subconscious – stranger to Eddie’s conscious self
  • Actively denies thoughts of incest (why he is unable to take responsibility for actions later
  • Self-interest and self-denial is his tragic flaw
  • Style of Alfieri as chorus – dramatic & literary descriptions (repeated in later descriptions) – tale of Eddie becomes almost legendary
  • Creates significance for audience – learn lessons from story/tragedy

Important Quotations

  • You want somethin' else, Eddie, and you can never have her! (Act 2, p70)
  • CONTEXT: Beatrice’s final, most direct reference to Eddie’s feelings for Catherine. It is her final plea out of desperation before Marco arrives at the house.


  • First time Eddie seems to realise his true feelings and recognise his own madness
  • Up to this point, only referred to indirectly – no one has dared actually tell Eddie what is wrong with him
  • When Eddie realises his demon he is powerless to stop it
  • Lunging forward in attempt to kill Marco – feeling of inevitability
  • Sicilian revenge – cannot pull back or regain sense of reason – gone too far
  • Recognition of sexual taboo & what it drove him to makes more determined to seek revenge or success/honour in his death
  • No power to deny claims but instead follows destructive path
  • Once he has recognised his sinful love he seems able to find himself again, come out of madness & reconcile his relationship with Beatrice

Important Quotations

  • Eddie: Then why—Oh, B.!
  • Beatrice: Yes, yes!
  • Eddie: My B.! (Act 2, p72)
  • CONTEXT: The final exchange between Eddie and Beatrice before Eddie dies in her arms.


  • In end the couple find some sort of reconciliation & repair in broken relationship
  • Beatrice, despite everything, remains loyal to Eddie throughout & is able to forgive him
  • Throughout, Eddie constantly dominates Beatrice
  • In this tiny moment, Eddie needs B more than she needs him
  • B’s increased presence & downscaling of E&C’s relationship, Eddie must die in her arms
  • Only female who needs him
  • Drawn to B to seek forgiveness & love
  • Greater sense of loss & wastage created at end of tragedy

Important Quotations

  • 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. (Act 2, p72)
  • CONTEXT: Alfieri’s closing speech in which he talks directly to the audience, reflecting on the story and reinforcing the main themes of the play.


  • Deals with central conflict of play
  • The self will versus the will of the community
  • The ‘whole man’ that Alfieri describes in Eddie is the self-interested man
  • Actions completely motivated by own desires at expense of others
  • Thus, humans must act halfway to preserve rules of community & lives of others
  • Eddie acted as whole person, unrestrained & uninhabited – at expense of others & himself
  • Escaped restraint because he escaped consideration of others & community at large
  • Wholeness is whole interest in his own life
  • TRAGIC FLAW = self-interest – flaw seems both admirable & alarming to Alfieri

Creating a Quotation Bank

  • Each person must find, analyse and submit (electronically) one key quotation to me by Thursday 16th December
  • Once submitted, I will collate (along with previous slides) and post on eboard
  • You will only receive the password if and when you have contributed


  • The quotation written in full, with an Act and page reference
  • The context of the quotation (who says it and when/why)
  • In depth analysis of the significance of the quotation within the play as a whole (consider any techniques illustrated by the quotation, what the quotation reveals about characterisation, situation, theme etc.)


  • Act 1, part a – Heather, Emma
  • Act 1, part b – Jess, Emilia
  • Act 1, part c – Findlay, Catherine, Georgia
  • Act 1, part d – Milly, Cora, Lauren
  • Act 1, part e – Sumita, Katie, Calum
  • Act 2, part a – Jack, Imogen, Iain
  • Act 2, part b – Elliot, Hannah, Ruairidh
  • Act 2, part c – Ryan-Lee, Billie
  • Act 1, part a – pg1-7
  • Act 1, part b –pg7-15
  • Act 1, part c –pg15-23
  • Act 1, part d – pg23-33
  • Act 1, part e – pg33-46
  • Act 2, part a – pg47-59
  • Act 2, part b – pg59-67
  • Act 2, part c – pg67-72
  • Choose a play in which a central character behaves in an obsessive manner.
  • Describe the nature of the character’s obsessive behaviour and discuss the influence this behaviour has on your understanding of the play as a whole.

3 Parts to Question - Argument

  • Nature of Eddie’s obsessive behaviour
  • How is Eddie’s obsessive behaviour demonstrated – Dramatic Techniques
  • Influence behaviour has on understanding of the play as a whole

Nature of Eddie’s obsessive behaviour

  • Possessiveness of Catherine – patriarchal role, escalates into obsession, driven on by tragic flaw (incestuous desire, acting selfishly)
  • Becomes fixated on preventing Rodolpho & Catherine’s relationship/marriage
  • Goes against own ideals – betraying own family
  • Tragic ending – Obsessed with reclaiming respect, focus shifts to Marco, culminates in death when obsession subsides

How is Eddie’s obsessive behaviour demonstrated

  • Through Alfieri’s narrative – chorus role, warnings & powerless, imagery & language, foreshadowing & dramatic irony
  • Relationship with Catherine – pipe & slip, restricting freedom & denial, broken marriage
  • Reaction to Rodolpho – stage directions, boxing and chair, the kiss
  • Turning point – phoning immigration (significant change in ideals, foreshadowed earlier)
  • Ending – fight with Marco, knife, obsession subsiding with return to B at the end

Influence behaviour has on understanding of the play as a whole

  • Highlights themes of respect/loyalty/betrayal
  • Acting wholly as self (self-interest) – community vs individual
  • Eddie’s obsessive behaviour is motivated by his self-interest (tragic flaw) – results in his betrayal and loss of respect/position – outlines wider message about community and individual (idea of compromise) ‘better to settle for half’

Key Critical Essay Structural Advice


  • Need to include:
  • - Title of text (in ‘inverted commas’)
  • - Author/poet/dramatist’s name – full name at 1st – surname thereafter
  • - Type of text
  • - LINK TO TASK – use key words from the task
  • - Mention of the theme/purpose of the text (understanding/appreciation of text as a whole)

Sample Introduction

  • The thought-provoking play A View from the Bridge by Arthur Miller follows the tragic life of an American-Italian longshoreman called Eddie Carbone in the 1950s, whose infatuation for his niece ultimately destroys him. Miller shows how Eddie’s obsessive behaviour grows and evolves as he is driven by his own self-interest. This leads him to selfishly betray those around him as well as his own values and this is used by Miller to effectively illustrate the notion that we must compromise our own interests with those of others within the societies in which we live.

Topic Sentences

  • Function:
  • - To introduce the feature of the text which is to be analysed in that paragraph
  • - Must clearly link to the task and the rest of the argument
  • - Should focus on what the writer does and why – how does the technique help convey theme/purpose
  • - Should contain evaluative language

Sample Topic Sentence

  • Signs of Eddie’s obsessive nature are clearly indicated by Miller in the opening scenes when we see how he tries to control and manipulate Catherine.


  • Function:
  • - Bring together the main points of the paragraph – focussing on the technique that has been discussed
  • - Must clearly link to the task and the rest of the argument
  • - Try to make reference to theme/writer’s purpose – why the writer is writing
  • - Should contain evaluative language

Sample Sub-Conclusion

  • Through Alfieri’s privileged perspective, Miller allows us to clearly see the powerful influence of Eddie’s obsession with Catherine and the devastating consequences it has when he is not able to suppress its influence and think of the consequences for those around him.


  • Function:
  • - To conclude the argument, pulling together the main points
  • - Must clearly link to the task and the rest of the argument
  • - Should restate the title of the text, author and what the writer is trying to achieve – purpose/theme
  • - Should contain evaluative language

Sample Conclusion

  • Overall, ‘A View from the Bridge’ is a play in which we see the central character, Eddie Carbone, act in an obsessive manner. Throughout the play, Arthur Miller effectively demonstrates the devastating consequences of Eddie’s obsessive behaviour which causes him to transform from a loving, caring family man into someone who betrays his own values in order to satisfy his own desires.

General Advice

  • Avoid using ‘you’ or ‘I’ or ‘the reader’ as in, for example, the following:
  • At the end of the novel you feel the death of the father has affected every single character.
  • At the end of the novel I feel the death of the father has affected every single character.
  • At the end of the novel the reader feels the death of the father has affected every single character.
  • The first is too conversational, the second is too personal, and the third is too formal.

General Advice

  • Use ‘we’ instead:
  • At the end of the novel we feel the death of the father has affected every single character.
  • Or leave it out:
  • At the end of the novel the death of the father has affected every single character.


  • Don’t say ‘the writer quotes’. Writers don’t quote their own words, they write them. It’s you who quotes. The word ‘quote’ or ‘quotation’ should never appear in your essay.
  • There are only two ways to handle quotations. You either:
    • introduce a long one (which must make complete sense on its own) by putting it in the middle of your page and introducing it with a colon
  • or
    • include a short one as part of your own sentence


  • All other ways are clumsy and wrong. So if, for example, you are quoting from the first verse of the nursery rhyme Jack and Jill, you might say something like this:
  • In the opening verse we are told what the two children did:
  • Jack and Jill went up the hill
  • To fetch a pail of water
  • or
  • In the opening verse we are told how the two children ‘went up the hill’ in order to get some water.
  • Anything else is wrong. For example:
  • In the opening verse we are told what the children did ‘went up the hill’.
  • In the opening verse we are told what the children did:
  • To fetch a pail of water

Variations for ‘This shows…’

  • Here, the writer [name] highlights…
  • reveals/ing
  • indicates/ing
  • suggests/ing
  • implies/ing
  • portrays/ing
  • connotes/ing or this has connotations of…
  • … is employed/utilised by the writer to…

Evaluative Language

  • Cleverly
  • Effectively
  • Successfully
  • Poignantly
  • Realistically
  • Vividly
  • Emotionally
  • Evocatively
  • Creatively
  • Emphatically
  • Dramatically
  • Convincingly
  • Significantly
  • Strikingly
  • Reordering the sentence can help to vary how your evaluation is expressed e.g. ‘The writer makes effective use of…’ or ‘A striking example of…’

Second Essay

  • Choose a play which underlines how one person’s flaw(s) can have a significant impact on other people as well as on himself or herself.
  • Explain briefly the nature of the flaw(s) and then, in detail, assess how much the character and others are affected.

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