Betrayal is an important theme in the play. Explain how Miller uses the characters to examine this theme.
Essentially, Eddie’s demise is the result of his betrayal of his relatives, Marco and Rodolpho, to the US Immigration authorities. This is the ultimate betrayal, but not the only betrayal that takes place in A View from the Bridge (AVFTB).
Betrayal is a very serious crime in
the Sicilian-American community of Red Hook. At the time, there were very
strict immigrations laws in place, so many illegal immigrants (“submarines”)
arrived in search of the American Dream. Two such submarines are Marco and
Rodolpho, who arrive from
Despite his threats at the start of
the play, Eddie experiences ‘peripeteia’ (reversal of intention), an element of
Greek Tragedy, and ‘snitches’ on Marco and Rodolpho. Foreshadowing of this
event is created by his warnings in Act 1 and the phone booth, that ‘can be
covered or left in view.’ Edie is driven to this by his jealousy of Rodolpho as
a result of his incestuous feelings for Catherine. Eddie’s betrayal, just like
Vinny’s, has dire consequences. Marco, who came to
However, it is Eddie’s on knife that Marco ‘turns inward into his stomach’, so Eddie can be said to be betrayed by himself, by his own ‘hamartia’ (tragic flaw). It can also be argued that Eddie is betrayed by Catherine, who’s affections shift from him to Rodolpho, as exemplified by ‘I’ll kill ya!’ and ‘I’m marrying him’ whereas initially she is ‘almost in tears because he disapproves.’ Likewise, Rodolpho too perhaps betrays Eddie’s trust by sleeping with Catherine before marriage in his house, and Eddie accuses him of ‘stealing her from me.’ Additionally, Marco also betrays Alfieri’s trust by promising him not to kill Eddie, but does it anyway, refusing to heed Alfieri’s plea that ‘to promise not to kill is not dishonourable.’
Ultimately, betrayal is a salient theme in this play, and creates the ‘catastrophe’ (change in fortune) of Eddie’s death. Indeed, in an interview, Miller did state that he considered betrayal to play a key role in tragedy, something he put into effect in A View from the Bridge. Furthermore, Miller very effectively manipulates plot, character and a host of other dramatic devices, including set and dramatic irony, to convey to the audience the theme of betrayal.