‘There are many different ways of being a man.’ Choose two or more male characters and write about them to show how far you agree with this statement.
One of the most the most obvious ‘ways of being a man’ in ‘A
View from the Bridge’ is by supporting your family as is clearly the case for both
Eddie and Marco who have lives that revolve around supporting their wives and
children. When Catherine gets a job, Eddie asks ‘Did I ask you for money?’
which effectively suggests that he feels threatened by the idea of someone else
providing for the family. Similarly, Marco says ‘My children eat the sunshine’
the sad tone of which indicates Marco’s sorrow at not being able to feed them
himself. In addition, the fact that Marco comes all the way to
On the other hand, Rodolpho is depicted as a far more
carefree man. Marco describes him by saying ‘he dreams, he dreams’ indicating
the freedom that Rodolpho has as he is not married. Rodolpho states ‘I will buy
a motorcycle’ when he returns to
Another ‘way of being a man’ that we see exemplified through
Marco is his love of his family. Marco says ‘My wife’ indicating through his
overwhelming emotions that he has a deep and true love for his wife back at
home. We also see his respect for family as he greets Beatrice and ‘He kisses
her hand.’ This once again shows a love for family because although Marco and Beatrice
are cousins, they have only just met and yet he still treats her with warmth
and love. This is perhaps used by Miller to indicate the strong family values
Contrastingly we are presented with a very different portrayal of love through both Rodolpho and Eddie. At first, Rodolpho seems to be in love with Catherine in the same way that Marco loves his wife as ‘he’s got all kinds of respect’ for her and Catherine even tells Eddie ‘he loves me!” as they argue about Rodolpho’s intentions. This is the kind of deep powerful love that we see in Marco. However, Eddie argues that Rodolpho is only interested in Catherine because she is ‘a green kid’ and that ‘he’s only bowin’ to his passport’ which disturbs Catherine. Although she repeats ‘I don’t believe it’ we are able to see that it does affect her as later in the play, Catherine asks Rodolpho ‘suppose I wanted to live in Italy?’ His responses vary from ‘I would be a criminal stealing your face’ which once again indicates his passionate love for her, to ‘I will not marry you to live in Italy’ which suggests that there might be at least some truth in what Eddie was saying. Rodolpho also says that ‘the only wonder here [is] work’ which once again raises questions in the mind of the audience as we are unsure of his love for Catherine as he hasn’t mentioned her. I believe that Miller leaves Rodolpho ‘s feelings ambiguous as this uncertainty draws the audience into the play as we try to understand his intentions. Either way, the fact that Rodolpho’s feelings for Catherine are under suspicion in a way that Marco’s feelings for his wife are not once again suggests that anyone who does not behave in a manner which is deemed acceptable for a man is likely to come under close scrutiny.
We sometimes see a similarly unacceptable view of family love within the Carbone family. There are two sides shown to Eddie’s character; first as a controlling figure who harbours a secret and unacceptable desire for Catherine. When we first see Eddie and Catherine, he is ‘pleased and therefore shy’ at her conversation and interest in him. This seems to suggest emotions that are more than fatherly and makes us question his relationship with Catherine. Everyone except Eddie seems to realise that he has these feelings as Alfieri says ‘there is too much love for the niece’ and Beatrice comments towards the end of the play that ‘you want something else and you can never have her.’ The fact that Eddie’s love is ‘too much’ and that he can ‘never have’ what he loves clearly suggests that his desires are falling outside the range of what is acceptable in a man. Yet, at other times, Eddie does appear to play the more acceptable role of a caring father figure when he cautions Catherine about ‘walkin’ wavy’ and encourages her to improve her lot in life when he says ‘if you’re gonna get outa here then get out; don’t go practically in the same kind of neighbourhood’ which seems much more loving as he also says ‘I only wanted the best for you, Kate.’
In this light the audience is inclined to judge Eddie much more generously which only goes to reinforce the fact that, although there are many different men in the play, there is really only one role that it is acceptable for them to play: that of the hard working, caring, honourable, family man. Rodolpho does not live up to this ideal and is mocked by Louis and Mike and the other men at the docks who call him ‘Paper Doll’ while Eddie is acceptable to the audience only insofar as he remains the caring father figure. The only character who adheres to the acceptable role of a man throughout is Marco and this perhaps explains why the sympathy of the audience lies so strongly with him at the end of the play.