‘There are many different ways of being a man.’ Choose two or more male characters and write about them to show how far
One of the major themes of this play is gender roles. Miller plays with stereotypes, and the idea of ‘manliness’ appears several times in this play, especially in Eddie’s opinion of Rodolpho. Although Eddie, Rodolpho and Marco are very different, it does not make either of them any less of a man.
Eddie is a stereotypical patriarch of the time in which ‘A View from the Bridge’ (AVFTB) is set. He is a ‘longshoreman’ and the sole breadwinner of his family. When he arrives home after work, he expects Catherine to ‘get [him] a beer’ and does not perform any housework, leaving that to the women of the house. His masculinity is also irrefutable – he ‘slices an apple with a pocketknife’ and expects a cigar after dinner. Moreover, he is extremely authoritative in the Carbone household – he has the right to dictate whether or not Catherine can take a job. Additionally, ‘he’s a good boxer’, ‘pitches coins’ and his job as a longshoreman requires manual labour. Furthermore, his respect is extremely important to him, perhaps even more so because of his Sicilian roots. He accuses Marco of ‘wipin’ the streets with my name like a dirty rag’ and fights Marco in order to get his ‘name back.’ Moreover, he also does not allow Beatrice to question him, saying ‘I want my respect’ and telling her ‘I got nothin’ more to say about it [their sexual life].’ Moreover, he tells Beatrice that ‘a wife is supposed to believe a man. If I say he ain’t right don’t tell me his is right.’ In addition, Alfieri implies that Eddie is “a common man” who ‘never expected to have a destiny.’ Nonetheless, Eddie is regarded as a hero by Miller and Alfieri for his passionate loyalty to his emotions and for being ‘himself purely.’ Furthermore, Eddie’s death is tragic, and exemplifies Romantic truth in a world that is ‘entirely unromantic.’ From a Freudian perspective, it can also be said that Eddie surrenders to his Id more than any other character. However, Eddie’s ability to surrender to his Id clashes with the allegedly British stereotype of a ‘stiff upper lip’ or staying under the control of your superego.
However, Rodolpho is a complete contrast. He is ‘a real blond’ who ‘cooks, he sings, he can make dresses.’ He also sings in a ‘high tenor voice’ and dances. Because of this, Eddie asserts that ‘he ain’t right’, and tries to cast doubt on his sexuality by ‘suddenly [kissing] Rodolpho on the mouth.’ He is also angered to find that ‘there’s no law that a man which he ain’t right can go to work and marry a girl and-‘. As a result of this, it can be argued that Eddie is homophobic, but to this audience member it appears that Eddie is desperate to find any way to prevent Catherine from marrying Rodolpho. Additionally, Rodolpho is humorous and flirtatious, as exemplified by ‘he trusts his wife’ and ‘Yes! I like sugar very much!’ Rodolpho is also a joke on the docks, ‘Paper Doll, they’re calling him.’ Nonetheless, Rodolpho’s masculinity is proven when Catherine asks him to ‘Teach me, Rodolpho’ and they sleep together. He also stands up to Eddie, as demonstrated by ‘I show you what I be!’ and ‘She’ll be my wife! That is what I want!’ Therefore, despite lacking stereotypical masculine traits, there never is any doubt in AVFTB that Rodolpho is a man.
Another character that contrasts with Rodolpho is Marco. Marco, again, is a stereotype of the “strong, silent type.” Immensely respecteful, as illustrated by ‘when you [Eddie] say go, we go.’ Marco is a man of few words, an example of which is ‘It is bad, yes.’ He is also described as a ‘bull’ and a ‘regular slave.’ Eddie also says ‘nobody kids Marco. He goes around like a man,’ and shares a mutual respect with him. Eddie also regards Marco as more worthy of his attention than Rodolpho, and ‘he is coming more and more to address Marco only.’ Furthermore, he has a strong sense of justice, and after Eddie’s betrayal, declares ‘in my country he would be dead by now.’
Ultimately, the statement that ‘there are many different ways of being a man’ is wholly correct, and Arthur Miller shows this in AVFTB with the contrasts he creates between the main male characters. Additionally, one does not have to fit a stereotype to be a man, as exemplified by Rodolpho.