Anda di halaman 1dari 48

Act II


From his desk, Alfieri once again frames the action of the scene. It is the twenty-third of December and
Catherine and Rodolpho are, for the first time, alone together in the house.
While Catherine cuts out a pattern of cloth, Rodolpho watches her intently. Catherine asks Rodolpho if
he would still want to marry her if they had to move back to Italy. Rodolpho, indignant, tells Catherine
that he would not marry her if they had to live in Italy. Rodolpho wants Catherine to be his wife and he
wants to be a citizen; however, Catherine is wrong to think he would marry her just to gain citizenship.
Rodolpho insists the only reason he wants to be an American is to have the opportunity to work, that is
the only advantage. Catherine reveals that she is fearful of Eddie's reaction toward her marriage and
Rodolpho eventually calms her. Catherine weeps in his arms and Rodolpho takes her to the bedroom.
Eddie, drunk and unsteady on his feet, appears below the apartment on the street. Eddie enters the
apartment as Catherine walks out of the bedroom. Eddie sees Rodolpho also come out of the bedroom
and instantly orders Rodolpho to pack up his bags and leave the house. Catherine moves toward the
bedroom and tells Eddie that she is the one that needs to leave. Eddie grabs Catherine and kisses her on
the mouth. Rodolpho tells Eddie to respect Catherine, his wife to be. Eddie taunts Rodolpho and
Rodolpho lunges toward Eddie, but is pinned by Eddie. Laughing, holding Rodolpho's arms, Eddie
suddenly kisses Rodolpho. Catherine tears the two apart.

Alfieri's office is once again lit on the stage. It is December 27 and Eddie has come once again to Alfieri's
office for advice. Again, Alferi tells Eddie he must let Catherine marry Rodolpho; the law cannot help
him. After leaving Alfieri's office, Eddie calls the Immigration Bureau and reports Marco and Rodolpho.
When Eddie returns to the house, he finds Beatrice packing up Christmas decorations. Marco and
Rodolpho have been moved upstairs to live with Mrs. Dondero. Beatrice and Eddie argue about their
relationship and Beatrice tells Eddie that Catherine and Rodolpho are going to be married next week.
Beatrice advises Eddie to give Catherine and Rodolpho his good word and even attend the wedding.
Eddie refuses to talk to her and moves toward the door. As he does so, Catherine enters the apartment.
Catherine tells Eddie that the wedding is on Saturday and he can come if he likes. Eddie once again
attempts to convince Catherine otherwise, but she is resolved. Eddie suddenly tells Catherine that she
must make Marco and Rodolpho move. Eddie thinks it is unsafe for them to be living with Mrs. Dondero
because she is housing two other illegal immigrants. As Eddie is speaking, the Immigration police appear
outside the house. Catherine hurries upstairs to try and get Marco and Rodolpho out of the house
before the police enter, but she is unsuccessful. Marco, Rodolpho and the two other immigrants are
taken to jail. As they leave, Marco spits in Eddie's face. Alferi pays bail for Marco and Rodolpho, with a
promise that neither will hurt Eddie in any way. Rodolpho will still marry Catherine and be an American,
but Marco will be deported in a few weeks.

It is Catherine's wedding day and she is getting ready in her bedroom. Eddie still refuses to go to the
ceremony and stubbornly sits in his rocking chair. Eddie has lost all respect in the community because he
called Immigration on Rodolpho and Marco. Rodolpho enters the room to collect Catherine and Beatrice
for the wedding and suggests that Eddie leave the room because Marco is coming, but Eddie refuses.
Rodolpho apologizes for everything and even reaches to kiss Eddie's hand, but Eddie pulls it away.
Marco appears outside the apartment and calls out Eddie' name. Eddie and Marco exchange words and
Eddie desperately attempts to justify his cause in front of the crowd of community members that have
gathered. Eddie tries to stab Marco, but Marco grabs his arm and turns the blade inward toward Eddie.
Eddie dies in Beatrice's arms


The central conflict for characters in A View from the Bridge is negotiation between tribal and country
law. In other words, the characters must reconcile between the social laws of the Red Hook Sicilian-
American community and the laws that they are bound to by the state. Eddie Carbone purposefully
holds allegiance to the state law that bans illegal immigrants. He is consequently punished by the Red
Hook community, which accepts and protects immigrants. Marco and Rodolpho, although wanting live
in the U.S., break American law by entering the country illegally. Influenced by the fact he has already
been deported, Marco has especially little allegiance to American law or custom, but abides by Sicilian
practices of revenge against Eddie. Rodolpho, with the possibility of being a citizen, offers his apologies
to Eddie. Alfieri, the Italian-American lawyer who narrates the play, is the great compromiser between
Sicilian law and American laws. Alferi is able to negotiate between social mores in Red Hook and the
demands of American citizenship.
Eddie's allegiance to the U.S. is not seen until the conclusion of the play. When Marco and Rodolpho
first come to stay with the Carbone's, he is happy and proud to be housing "submarines" in his home.
With the power of his "subs," Eddie rebels against American immigration laws and brings Italians into
the county, encouraged and honored by the surrounding community. Eddie is forced to ignore this tribal
law when he is threatened by Rodolpho's relationship to Catherine. Eddie goes to the lawyer, Alfieri, to
see if there is a way to negotiate American law to simply stop the marriage, but he realizes that the only
way is to go against Sicilian social-community law ("the law is not interested in this you have no recourse
in the law"). Eddie's decision to break community law is also influenced by his love for Catherine; his
betrayal is out of self-interest. Eddie would break natural law, a more stigmatizing and damning force
than either Sicilian or American laws. Ironically, the failure of American law to prevent the marriage of
Rodolpho and Catherine causes Eddie to once again revert to his community customs and seek a final
Sicilian revenge against Marco. What is important to Eddie, in the end, is his name. Eddie attempts to kill
Marco rather than offer the forgiveness. Eddie's inability to negotiate between Sicilian and American
cultures destroys him.

Marco and Rodolpho follow Sicilian law and social custom. However, Marco follows these laws more
strictly than Rodolpho. At the play's conclusion, Marco has seeks revenge whereas Rodolpho asks for
forgiveness from Eddie and even offers to kiss his hand before marrying his daughter. The lawlessness of
Marco and Rodolpho are far overshadowed by Eddie. Whereas Marco and Rodolpho break laws in order
to escape poverty in Italy and provide for their families, Eddie acts solely to protect himself and his
virginal prize.

Alfieri, the bridge between Italian custom and American law, reveals an objective view of the community
and Carbone family. Although his objectivity may be questionable as the "engaged narrator," Alfieri, as a
character, represents a possible merger between American and Sicilian cultures and articulates the
greater moral and social implications for Eddie and the audience. The play is Alfieri's memory narrative;
the narrative is in the past, but enacted in the present. The final conflict, for Alfieri, is not between tribal
and state law, but between personal and communal truth.
Alfieri, like Miller, is ultimately confused. The conclusion of A View from the Bridge disproves the
existence of ultimate law. Modern society cannot distinguish or rightly weight personal truth against
communal truth and we are thus left "half way."

Important Quotations Explained

Just remember, kid, you can quicker get back a million dollars that was stole than a word that you gave

Eddie speaks this quote in Act I, while eating dinner with Beatrice and Catherine. This quote reveals the
irony and madness of Eddie's character. In the beginning of the play, Eddie tells the story of a young boy
who called immigration on his relatives. Eddie lectures Catherine about how they must tell no one about
Marco and Rodolpho, the illegal immigrant cousins the family will be hiding. However, in the end of the
play, Eddie obviously calls Immigration on these cousins, just like the boy. Miller sets up Eddie so
vehemently against betrayal that his transition to the betrayer seems illogical. The set-up requires Eddie
to undergo a drastic change, if not complete breakdown, within the play to make such a transition. The
force of this transition reveals no only his self-destructive madness, but the deepness of his unspoken
love for his niece. This quote also reveals that Eddie knows his own fate—he knows what will happen to
him, but cannot escape his fate. Much like Alfieri, Eddie watches himself make decisions he knows will
not only ruin his reputation in the community, but also possibly kill him. Eddie may know the
consequence of what he does, but remains powerless or too mad to stop it.

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.

In this quote, found in Act I, Alferi describes Eddie's appearance at their first meeting, to the audience.
Alfieri almost seems to fear Eddie as a paranormal beast, a remnant of the great Greek or Roman
tragedy. Alfieri truly believes that Eddie was possessed with, "passion that has moved into his body, like
a stranger," and was unable to control him. The passion that Alfieri describes is the passion for his niece
Catherine. The passion, unreleased and suppressed in his unconscious was a stranger to Eddie's
conscious self that actively denied any thoughts of incest or otherwise. This quote also reveals the style
of Alfieri. Alfieri tells the tale of Eddie Carbone as if he is a legend. Eddie is described with dramatic and
literary descriptions that are unusual in the dramatic form.
Eddie: Then why—Oh, B.! Beatrice: Yes, yes! Eddie: My B.!

This quote occurs at the conclusion of the play and is spoken between Eddie and Beatrice. As Eddie lies
dying in Beatrice's arms, the couple finds some sort of reconciliation and repair of their torn and
battered relationship. Beatrice, even under such horrible circumstances, is able to forgive Eddie. Eddie
constantly dominates Beatrice throughout the play, but in this tiny moment Eddie needs Beatrice more
than she needs him. It is the first time the audience hears that Eddie needs and it is the first time that he
honestly needs Beatrice. Beatrice is the tirelessly forgiving character of the play. She is terribly jealous of
her niece, who receives more attention from her husband than she does, but still forgives Eddie in the
end. This final scene was one of the major alterations of the revised script of A View from the Bridge. In
the original version, Eddie dies at the feet of Catherine. However, because of Beatrice's increased
presence in the revised version and downscaling of the relationship between Eddie and Catherine—
Eddie must return to Beatrice. Beatrice is the only female who, in the end, needs him. Catherine, now
beyond his control, no longer seeks his approval. Thus, Eddie is drawn to Beatrice and for the first time
he seeks out Beatrice, her forgiveness and love.

You want somethin' else, Eddie, and you can never have her!

This quote, spoken by Beatrice in the conclusion of Act II to Eddie, is the first time that Eddie seems to
realize his true feelings for Catherine and recognize his own madness. Until this moment, no one has
directly spoken about Eddie's feelings for Catherine. Although they are obviously known by Beatrice and
Alfieri, know one has dared to actually tell Eddie what is wrong with him. But even when Eddie realizes
his demon, the love for his niece, he is powerless to stop it. Eddie lunges forward and attempts to kill
Marco. In this moment of Sicilian revenge, Eddie cannot pull himself back or regain any sense of reason.
Perhaps even the recognition of the sexual taboo makes Eddie even more determined to seek revenge
or at least find some sort of success or honor in his death. Eddie does not even have the power to deny
Beatrice's claim, but instead follows through his destructive path. This moment may bring Eddie out of
his madness enough to lie in Beatrice's arms as he bleeds to death. Once he has recognized his sinful
love for Catherine, Eddie seems to find himself once again—which may explain why he is able to
reconcile his relationship with Beatrice.
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.

This quote deals with the central conflict of A View from the Bridge: the self will verses the will of the
community. The whole man that Alfieri describes in Eddie is the self-interested man. Eddie's actions
within the play are completely motivated by his own desires at the expense of others. Thus, humans
must act halfway to preserve the rules of the community and lives of others. The idea that Alfieri
suggests, that Eddie acted as a whole person, unrestrained and uninhibited is true. However, Eddie's
wholeness was at the expense of his own family and eventually himself. He only escaped restraint
because he escaped consideration of other people or the community at large. Eddie's wholeness is a
whole interest in his own life. His tragic flaw is this self-interest—a flaw that seems both admirable and
alarming to Alfieri.

Which elements of A View from the Bridge resemble Greek Tragedy? How does this change or affect the
significance of the play as a modern drama?

There are several elements of A View from the Bridge that resemble Greek drama. Eddie is the tragic,
mad character who is helpless in the face of his own terrible fate. Alfieri acts as the chorus in the play.
He provides commentary on the action and articulates the greater moral and social implications of the
drama. Eddie Carbone is an epic character; he makes bold moves and does things that are completely
out of the ordinary. As chorus, Alfieri is key to distinguishing Eddie as a legendary figure because Alfieri
gives Eddie epic proportions, "I looked into his eyes more than I listened—in fact, I hardly remember the
conversation I will never forget how dark the room became when he looked at me; his eyes were like

What imagined world or reality does Eddie seek to uphold? How does he see himself? How does this
differ from the actual world of the play?

To justify his actions, Eddie creates an alternative reality to exist within. This imagined world Eddie
constructs is evident by his irrational decisions. Eddie knows well the fate he will suffer if he betrays
Marco and Rodolpho. In the beginning of the play, Eddie tells the story of a young boy who ratted on
immigrant relatives staying in his home and warns Catherine that she must be absolutely silent about
Marco and Rodolpho. Eddie knows that he will suffer greatly for calling Immigration, but does so
anyway. In Eddie's imagined world he believes that putting his relatives in jail will stop the marriage of
Rodolpho and Catherine. Eddie believes he can keep Catherine all for himself as a virginal prize. Eddie
thinks that he can regain his name after Marco spits in his face. Eddie, driven by his suppressed passions,
makes irrational decisions and denies his own reason.

How does Alferi function in the play? What values or laws does he represent? How does his presence
alter the play or the audience's perception of the characters?

Alfieri is the symbolic bridge between American law and tribal Italian law. Alfieri, himself the son of an
Italian immigrant, acts as a chorus in the play. He gives his perspective from his position on the bridge or
meeting ground between Italian and American cultures. Alfieri attempts to portray the characters
objectively, but, especially in the case of Eddie Carbone, narrates the play as if it were a great legend.
Alfieri positions himself as the great scribe or teller of an epic tale: "the flat air in my office suddenly
washes in with the green scent of the sea the thought comes that in some Caesar's year another lawyer
set there as powerless as I, and watched it run its bloody course." Alfieri adds grandeur to the story and
transforms the story of a Longshoreman into a larger than life tragic tale.

How are names important in A View from the Bridge?

What social codes or mores exist within the Red Hook, Italian American community of the play?

What is the symbolic nature of the Brooklyn Bridge in the play? What worlds does it bring together?
What person also acts as a cultural bridge?

What laws do Eddie's actions infringe upon? What is the distinction made between tribal and American

Is Eddie a sympathetic hero? What elements of the play allow the audience to sympathize with Eddie?
Overall, is the audience led to sympathize with Eddie or criticize his actions?
Who does Eddie betray in the play? How does betrayal work as thematic material? How is Eddie
punished for his betrayal?

Characterize the relationship between Beatrice, Eddie and Catherine. What sort of familial taboos do
they break? How does their relationship reflect on the American family in a general sense?



Alfieri says that it is now the 23rd of December. Marco and Eddie are working, and Catherine and
Rodolpho are alone at the apartment. Catherine asks Rodolpho what he would think about living with
her in Italy, instead of in America, since it is so beautiful there. Rodolpho says it would be crazy to go
back to Italy with no money or job. He says there are no jobs in Italy.

Catherine wants to make sure that Rodolpho really loves her, and doesn’t simply want to marry into
American citizenship. Catherine is fascinated by a romanticized view of Italy, whereas Rodolpho has a
more practical awareness of the lack of jobs there, the reason for his illegal immigration to the U.S.A.
Catherine tells Rodolpho she doesn’t want to stay here because she is afraid of Eddie. Rodolpho says
they will move out once he is a citizen. Catherine asks if he would still want her if they had to live in
Italy. He says he wouldn’t, and says he wants her to be his wife in America.

Eddie’s fatherly concern and affection is so extreme that Catherine actually fears him. Leaving his
apartment is like a kind of immigration for her, and she imagines even leaving for Italy with Rodolpho,
getting far away from Eddie.

Active Themes

Starting to get mad, Rodolpho says he is not desperate enough to “carry on my back to the rest of my
life a woman I didn’t love just to be an American.” He says that America is not really that much better
than Italy, that the only thing they have that Italy doesn’t is work. Rodolpho asks why Catherine fears
Eddie, and Catherine says that he was always kind to her, and she doesn’t want to upset him. She wants
him to be happy with her decision to marry.

Rodolpho speaks out against the idea that America is necessarily better than his homeland. He values
the opportunities for work in the U.S., but has no illusions about his new country as some kind of utopia.
Catherine has complicated feelings toward Eddie, who she loves and appreciates as a father-figure, but
also fears.

Active Themes

Catherine tells Rodolpho that she’s lived with Eddie her whole life, and asks, “You think its so easy to
turn around and say to a man he’s nothin’ to you no more?” She talks about how well she knows Eddie,
and says she doesn’t want to “make a stranger out of him.” Rodolpho asks if it would be right for him to
hold a little bird in his hands and not let her fly just because he loves her so much. He tells Catherine
that she must leave Eddie.

Not only is Catherine breaking free from Eddie, but she also stands up to Rodolpho, asserting that she
has good reason to be fond of Eddie. Rodolpho’s image of the bird shows how constricting and
oppressive Eddie’s “love” is. But in practically commanding Catherine to leave Eddie, he is also ordering
her around.

Active Themes

Catherine starts to cry and embraces Rodolpho. She tells him, “I don’t know anything, teach me,
Rodolpho, hold me.” Rodolpho takes her into a bedroom. Eddie enters the apartment, drunk. He calls
for Beatrice, and Catherine enters the room from a bedroom. Rodolpho appears in the bedroom
doorway and says that Beatrice is out shopping for Christmas presents. Eddie is shocked to see that
Rodolpho and Catherine have been in the bedroom together, and tells Rodolpho to pack up and leave.

In leaving Eddie for Rodolpho, Catherine risks trading one authority figure for another, as she asks
Rodolpho to teach her. Eddie is offended because he feels that Rodolpho is taking Catherine from him,
because he may desire Catherine himself, and because he feels that Rodolpho is disrespecting him in his
own household.

Active Themes

Catherine tells Eddie that she has to leave, and Eddie says that she will stay, and that Rodolpho is the
one who should leave. Catherine says she can’t stay in Eddie’s apartment, but promises she’ll see him
around the neighborhood. Eddie tells her, “You ain’t goin’ nowheres,” and she responds that she’s “not
gonna be a baby any more.” Suddenly, Eddie grabs Catherine and kisses her.

Catherine is oppressed and under Eddie’s control in her own home, and thus has to “immigrate” in a
sense, and leave her childhood home behind. Eddie tries to maintain his control over Catherine in a
physical manner, and his repressed desire for her comes to the surface in his shocking kiss.

Rodolpho is shocked and tells Eddie to stop. He says that Catherine will be his wife, and then lunges at
Eddie. Eddie restrains Rodolpho and then suddenly kisses him. Catherine attacks Eddie until he lets
Rodolpho go. Eddie tells Rodolpho to get out of his apartment, without Catherine. Catherine says she is
going to go with Rodolpho, and Eddie tells her not to.

Rodolpho stands up for Catherine, but is also claiming her as his own. Eddie’s kissing Rodolpho has
unclear intentions. He could be trying to dishonor Rodolpho or imply that Rodolpho wanted such a kiss,
but may also be motivated by his own half-repressed desire for Rodolpho.

Alfieri comes on stage and says that he next saw Eddie on the 27th. Eddie came into his office and Alfieri
says his eyes “were like tunnels.” He says he kept wanting to call the police, “but nothing had
happened.” In Alfieri’s office, Eddie says that his wife is planning to rent a room in an apartment above
them for Marco and Rodolpho. Alfieri tells Eddie that he hasn’t proven anything about Rodolpho, but
Eddie insists that “he ain’t right.” He says that if Rodolpho wanted to, he could have broken free of his

Again, Alfieri is powerless to take action, because the law has no answer for Eddie’s problems, and no
laws have been violated. Eddie continues to be fixated on Rodolpho’s sexuality, and claims that his kiss
proves Rodolpho’s homosexuality, when it may actually suggest that he himself has some homoerotic

Eddie says that Rodolpho “didn’t give me the right kind of fight,” and tells Alfieri that he kissed Rodolpho
so Catherine would see what Rodolpho really is. Eddie asks what he can do about Catherine and
Rodolpho’s engagement, and Alfieri says that there is nothing he can do “morally and legally,” as
Catherine is “a free agent.”

Eddie again insists that he kissed Rodolpho to prove Rodolpho’s homosexuality, though this is not
entirely convincing. Alfieri is again caught in a position of powerlessness as an agent of the law. He
emphasizes that Catherine is a free, independent person.

Alfieri tells Eddie that someone was going to marry Catherine eventually, and says he should let her go.
Eddie leaves and goes to a public phone. He calls the Immigration Bureau and reports two illegal
immigrants living in his apartment. He goes to his apartment and asks Beatrice where Marco and
Rodolpho are. They have already moved into an apartment upstairs.

Alfieri tries one last time to convince Eddie that he should let Catherine be her own person, to no avail.
Eddie can't allow such a thing, and in helping to carry out the law to report illegal immigrants, he is
betraying his own relatives, something he earlier wouldn’t even consider doing, as it was so

Active Themes

Eddie says he doesn’t want Catherine to move in with Rodolpho and Beatrice gets upset. Eddie says,
“this is my house here not their house.” He says he wants respect and tells Beatrice he doesn’t like how
she talks to him. Beatrice asks why he kissed Rodolpho, and he says Rodolpho “ain’t right.” He demands
Beatrice’s respect, and then says he doesn’t want anymore conversations about “what I feel like doin’ in
the bed and what I don’t feel like doin’.”

Eddie wants Catherine to stay in his apartment both because he has a controlling love for her and
because he feels consistently disrespected by Catherine and Beatrice disregarding his wishes. Eddie’s
own sexuality is now in question, even as he continues to obsess over questioning Rodolpho’s.

Eddie says that a wife should believe her husband, and insists that Rodolpho “ain’t right.” He says that
Catherine is a baby and doesn’t know what she’s doing with Rodolpho. Beatrice replies that Eddie “kept
her a baby.” She tells Eddie that Rodolpho and Catherine are going to get married in a week. She advises
him to support Catherine and wish her good luck. She asks Eddie to tell Catherine that he’ll go to the
Eddie demands respect from Beatrice, but has an understanding of respect only as obedience. He rather
implausibly insists on Catherine’s immaturity, and Beatrice accuses him of trying to keep her “a baby.”
His strange feelings for Catherine involve both a desire to protect her as a child and to be with her as a

Active Themes

Eddie starts to cry, and Catherine enters. Beatrice encourages Catherine to ask Eddie a question.
Catherine tells him that she is going to be married in a week, on Saturday, in case he wants to attend.
Eddie tells her he “only wanted the best” for her. Desperate, Eddie tells Catherine that she can go out at
night if she wants to now, and maybe meet another man, someone other than Rodolpho. Catherine says
she is settled on Rodolpho.

Catherine has asserted her independence from Eddie, but still has some respect for him and his opinion,
as shown by her wanting him to come to her wedding. Eddie’s dislike of Rodolpho may have something
to do with his own problematic desire for or infatuation with him.

Active Themes

Eddie learns from Beatrice that two other illegal Italian immigrants are staying upstairs in the same
apartment as Rodolpho and Marco. Eddie worries that these two other immigrants might get caught,
and lead the authorities to Marco and Rodolpho. Eddie tells Catherine to move Rodolpho and Marco to
a different apartment building. Two Immigration Bureau officers knock on the door, and Eddie sends
Catherine to go up the fire escape to go and try to get Rodolpho and Marco to escape.

Eddie has betrayed Rodolpho to the Immigration Bureau, but still values the sense of justice held by his
community over the law, and worries about unintentionally getting other illegal immigrants caught. He
now regrets his rash, dishonorable decision in calling the Bureau.

Active Themes

The immigration officers come in and look around. Eddie tells them, “we got nobody here.” The
immigration officers go to search the other apartments in the building. Beatrice is terrified and asks
Eddie, “My God, what did you do?” The immigration officers come down the stairs of the building with
Marco, Rodolpho, and two other immigrants. Catherine tries to say that Rodolpho is American and was
born in Philadelphia.

Eddie prioritizes his neighborhood’s idea of justice over the law in lying to the officers, and acts
surprised to see them, though Beatrice has guessed his dishonorable act of betrayal. Marco and
Rodolpho now face the prospect of being forced to return to the home they love, but left behind.

Active Themes

Catherine and Beatrice plead with the officers, but they carry the immigrants away. Marco breaks free,
runs up to Eddie, and spits in his face. Eddie lunges at Marco, but the officers break them up. Eddie
screams that he’ll kill Marco. The officers take the immigrants outside. A butcher named Lipari, whose
apartment Marco and Rodolpho had moved into, sees the other two immigrants, his family members.
He and his wife kiss them goodbye.

Marco realizes what Eddie must have done, and though he earlier had been careful to respectful now in
response to Eddie's betrayal offers the deepest act of disrespect. Dishonored in front of the entire
neighborhood, Eddie becomes furious. While the immigration officers are behaving legally in taking
away the immigrants, they are not necessarily behaving justly, as they forcefully separate Lipari from his

As the officers take the four immigrants away, Marco points at Eddie and says, “That one! I accuse that
one!” Eddie tells Lipari that Marco is crazy, but Lipari walks away, not believing him. Eddie tries to talk to
Mike and Louis, who ignore him and walk away. Eddie shouts that he’ll kill Marco if he doesn’t take back
his accusation.

Marco’s public accusation attacks Eddie’s reputation among his neighbors, and his neighbors (Lipari,
Mike, and Louis) quickly shun him for turning his back on his family and his community. Eddie is willing
to kill over his reputation and honor, even though he actually did what he is being accused of doing.

Active Themes

Later, at a prison, Alfieri and Catherine visit Marco and Rodolpho. Alfieri says that Marco can be bailed
out until his immigration hearing, but only if Marco promises not to seek revenge on Eddie. Marco says
that in Italy Eddie would be dead by now for what he did. Catherine and Rodolpho try to persuade
Marco not to try to harm Eddie.

Alfieri, Catherine, and Rodolpho try to persuade Marco to defer his sense of personal justice to the law.
Eddie has betrayed his family, but has technically done nothing illegal, showing again the gap between
justice and law.

Active Themes

Marco says he cannot promise not to kill Eddie, as this would be dishonorable. Alfieri says that as long as
Eddie obeys the law, “he lives,” and tells Marco, “To promise not to kill is not dishonorable.” Marco
counters that “all the law is not in a book,” and emphasizes how Eddie has dishonored and wronged
him. Alfieri says Eddie has broken no law, and tells Marco that “only God makes justice.” Marco finally
promises not to harm Eddie.

For Marco, to behave according to the law would violate his own sense of justice and honor, which
demands that he get revenge on Eddie. There is a distinction being made here, perhaps, between the
United States and the Old World of Italy. In the United States, the law rules. In Italy, honor and
retributive justice do. While Alfieri concedes that the law does not cover all instances of right and
wrong, he tries to calm Marco by appealing to God as the only source of real justice.

Active Themes
The play then jumps to the day of Catherine’s wedding. At Eddie’s apartment, Beatrice is getting ready
for the wedding and tries to convince Eddie to attend. Eddie tells Beatrice he wants her respect as his
wife. Eddie insists that unless Marco apologizes to him, nobody from his home is going to the wedding.
Catherine suddenly bursts out and shouts at him, “Who the hell do you think you are?” She says that
Eddie has no right to dictate what she or Beatrice does.

Beatrice is still trying to get Eddie to attend the wedding, but Catherine appears to have grown
completely independent and does not care about Eddie’s opinion. She now stands up for herself and
Beatrice, whereas Beatrice earlier had to stand up for Catherine. Eddie feels that both characters’
independence is a form of disrespect to him.

Catherine calls Eddie a rat and says he belongs in the sewer. Beatrice tells Catherine to stop saying this,
and shows some sympathy for Eddie. Rodolpho comes in, and tells Eddie that Marco is coming. Beatrice
tries to get Eddie to leave the apartment with her, but Eddie says that it is his home and he won’t leave
it. Rodolpho apologizes to Eddie for disrespecting him in not asking his permission to see Catherine, but
says that Eddie has also insulted him.

Catherine has changed so much that it is now Beatrice who must restrain Catherine’s anger at Eddie,
when she formerly had to encourage Catherine to defy his authority. Rodolpho apologizes, but still
maintains that Eddie, so concerned with his own honor, has disrespected him.

Rodolpho tries to tell Eddie that they can still be “comrades,” and Eddie says he wants Marco to
apologize to him in front of the whole neighborhood. Referring to his reputation, he says, “I want my
name!” Beatrice tries to reason with Eddie, and asks what if an apology from Marco is what he really
wants. She says that Eddie wants something else, and then tells him, “you can never have her!”
Catherine and Eddie are both shocked at this.

Eddie does not want Rodolpho’s apology, and only wants Marco to reestablish his reputation in the
neighborhood with a public apology. Beatrice finally explicitly says what she has long suspected—that
Eddie secretly wants Catherine for himself, romantically. Eddie is not even aware of this desire himself,
and is as shocked as Catherine to hear the idea.

Beatrice says she is just telling the truth, as Marco arrives. Eddie goes outside to meet him. Rodolpho
begs Marco not to kill Eddie, and Beatrice tells Eddie to get back in the house. Eddie asks if Marco has
come to apologize for humiliating him, after he let Marco stay in his own home. He tells Marco to
“gimme my name.” A crowd of neighbors has now congregated to see what is going on.

Marco and Eddie now must face each other over their respective reputations and senses of honor. It is
important that they meet publically, in front of the close-knit neighborhood community, whose opinion
crucially determines the reputation of each man.

Eddie approaches Marco and calls him a liar. Marco hits Eddie and calls him an animal. Eddie falls over,
and Marco is about to stomp on him when Eddie pulls out a knife. He again calls Marco a liar and lunges
at him. Marco grabs his arm and turns the knife on Eddie, stabbing him. Eddie falls over, and Catherine
exclaims that she never meant to hurt him.

Desperate to salvage his reputation, Eddie calls Marco a liar when it is ironically he who is the real liar.
Marco ends up committing murder in order carry out his own idea of justice. Eddie's own knife being
turned against him is in some ways a metaphor for his fall in the play, as it is he himself who has caused
his own fall. Despite her recent outburst, Catherine still has love and concern for Eddie.

Active Themes

Eddie calls out for Beatrice, and Beatrice and Catherine hold Eddie up. He dies in Beatrice’s arms. Alfieri
comes forward and addresses the audience. He says that even though Eddie behaved wrongly, he still
thinks of Eddie as a pure person—“not purely good, but himself purely.” He says that for this he will
always love Eddie, and mourn him, while regarding him “with a certain . . . alarm.”Eddie behaved
wrongly, and yet he is the one who has obeyed the law. Beatrice and Catherine show love for Eddie in
his dying moments, though it is worth noting that Eddie seemed to care more about respect than love.
This, along with Alfieri’s closing speech, grants Eddie a measure of a positive reputation both among the
neighborhood and among the audience of the play. Themes and Colors


The play takes place in an immigrant community—a neighborhood full of Italian immigrants both legal
and illegal—and is a vivid portrayal of the immigrant experience in the United States, an immigrant
nation founded by those who left their homes in Europe but one that has not always been welcoming to
foreigners. As seen in A View from the Bridge, immigrants often come to America because it is,
famously, supposed to be the land of opportunity. Rodolpho and Marco come to New York in search of
jobs that are lacking in their Italian hometown, and are overjoyed at the money they can make working
on the docks. But this doesn’t mean that immigrating to America is necessarily an entirely good thing.
They have to live in hiding and are constantly in fear of being sent back to Italy (moreover, Marco plans
to return to Italy eventually). In addition, Rodolpho and Marco have to deal with missing their original
home, as can be seen when Rodolpho talks of the fountains in every town in Italy and, in an outburst,
tells Catherine that America is not as great as she thinks it is. Through both Rodolpho and Marco, we see
the ambivalence and difficulty of the immigrant experience. And through all the play’s characters, we
see the gradual process of assimilating into a new nation. Alfieri, for example, begins the play by both
invoking the Italian heritage of the neighborhood and insisting that its inhabitants are all thoroughly
American now.

But the play does not simply depict the experiences of immigrants. Miller uses the topic of immigration
to make larger points about the idea of home and a sense of belonging. Eddie takes pride in the home
he works hard to maintain and is irritated when Rodolpho and Marco intrude on his place as master of
his home. Throughout the play he struggles to maintain control over his home as a place where he
belongs, but is gradually excluded from it as he drifts away from Catherine and Beatrice. By the end of
the play, he hardly belongs in his own home, or even in his own neighborhood, as his neighbors shun
him for betraying Marco and Rodolpho. While Eddie tries to maintain his home, Catherine tries to find
one of her own. She is oppressed by Eddie, and moving out of Eddie’s apartment signifies the possibility
of her having an independent life and home of her own. She must in a sense “immigrate” from Eddie’s
home to one of her own. In this manner, all the characters of the play—and perhaps all people—must
undergo forms of immigration during their lives, whether literally leaving one country for another or
moving out of a family home to one’s own, or transitioning from one stage in life to another. Everyone is
simply seeking a place where he or she can comfortably belong.

This pervasive idea of immigration is symbolized in the setting of the play, which takes place in Brooklyn
and whose title alludes to the Brooklyn Bridge. Brooklyn is part of New York City, but separated from the
more affluent Manhattan. The bridge represents an in-between space; it doesn’t fully belong to either of
the shores it connects. The title of the play thus captures the way that its characters are all on bridges of
sorts, straddling two different worlds (whether Italy and the United States, or childhood and adulthood),
exemplifying the double-life of the immigrant experience that may form a part of all our lives.

Ove and desire

Love—of one kind or another—is the main motivator of Miller’s characters in this play, and drives the
major events of its plot. Catherine’s love for Rodolpho and Eddie’s intense love for Catherine lead to the
central problems of the play. But even before this, it is Marco’s love for his family that motivates him to
come to America, and it is Beatrice’s love for her extended family that causes her to have Marco and
Rodolpho stay in her home. Beyond this, though, A View from the Bridge especially explores the way in
which people are driven by desires that don’t fit the mold of normal or traditional forms of familial and
romantic love. For one thing, Eddie’s love for Catherine is extreme and hard to define exactly. He is very
overprotective, and to some degree is a father figure for her. However, as Beatrice subtly hints several
times, his love for Catherine often crosses this line and becomes a kind of incestuous desire for his niece,
whom he has raised like a daughter. This repressed, taboo desire—which Eddie vehemently denies—
erupts to the surface when Eddie grabs Catherine and kisses her in front of Rodolpho.

Eddie may also have other repressed desires. Directly after kissing Catherine, he kisses Rodolpho, as
well. He claims that this is to prove that Rodolpho is homosexual (an accusation he constantly implies
but never says outright), but as he is the one to restrain Rodolpho and forcefully kiss him, his
motivations are dubious. Throughout the play, Eddie is disproportionately obsessed with proving that
Rodolpho “ain’t right,” and this fixation on Rodolpho’s sexuality (combined with the fact that he does
not have sex with his wife Beatrice) may suggest that there are other motivations behind Eddie’s kissing

Eddie is a mess of contradictory, half-repressed desires that are difficult to pin down or define, perhaps
even for him. Through this tragically tormented and conflicted character, Miller shows that people are
often not aware of their own desires, and reveals the power that these desires can exert over people.
Eddie’s suffocating love for Catherine becomes a desire to possess her. He even claims that Rodolpho is
stealing from him, as if she were an object he owned. His obsession with Catherine drives him apart
from his family and leads him to betray Beatrice’s cousins, thereby effectively ostracizing himself from
his friends and neighbors. Through the tragic descent of Eddie, A View from the Bridge can be seen not
only as the drama of a family, or of an immigrant community, but also as the internal drama of Eddie’s
psyche, as he is tormented and brought down by desires he himself doesn’t even fully understand.

One of Eddie’s main concerns in the play is his honor and the respect (or lack thereof) he gets from
those around him. Other characters are also concerned with these issues, as matters of personal honor
and reputation are of great importance in the close-knit community of Red Hook. But these issues are
explored most fully through the character of Eddie. Eddie works hard to support his family and has a
proud sense of personal honor. At the beginning of the play, he is a respected, well-liked member of his
community. But the play follows his tragic demise as he loses the respect of others and his good
reputation. He constantly worries about being disrespected or dishonored by Catherine, Beatrice,
Marco, and especially Rodolpho. Closely related to the concepts of honor or respect is the idea of
reputation, which can be understood as a more social form of honor. In addition to Eddie’s personal
sense of honor, he is greatly concerned with his reputation amongst his neighbors. He is infuriated when
Marco spits on him and accuses him of turning him in to the Immigration Bureau (even though Eddie
really did do it) because these actions are disrespectful and dishonor Eddie, but especially because they
occurred in public, in front of the neighborhood. After Eddie’s reputation is tarnished, his neighbors
Lipari, Louis, and Mike ignore and ostracize him.

While Eddie does lose the respect of others around him, part of the problem with his obsession with
respect and honor is that he has a rather warped idea of the concepts. Whenever Beatrice or Catherine
disagrees with him, he interprets this as a sign of disrespect. Furthermore, he thinks that Rodolpho
disrespects and dishonors him merely by spending time with Catherine. In the end, Eddie loses the
respect of his family and community precisely because he is so overly concerned and defensive
regarding his own honor and reputation. He interprets all sorts of things as affronts to his personal
honor and lashes out against those who he thinks are disrespecting him. Then, ironically, this very habit
of overreaction causes Catherine, Beatrice, Rodolpho, and Marco to lose actual respect for him
gradually. Nonetheless, even after Eddie’s self-destructive decline, Beatrice and Catherine show some
respect for him, when he is stabbed by Marco. And Alfieri ends the play by affirming that he still mourns
Eddie respectfully, granting Eddie some vestige of a positive reputation after all.


The fact that the audience’s guide through the events of the play is Alfieri, a lawyer, suggests that issues
of law and justice have a central importance in A View from the Bridge. Specifically, many aspects of the
play raise the question of whether the law is an adequate or ultimate authority on what is right and
wrong. Throughout the play, the law fails to match up with various characters’ ideas of justice. From the
beginning, the presence of illegal immigrants questions the justness of strict immigration laws that force
Marco and Rodolpho to hide in Eddie’s apartment, after making a perilous journey to America in the
hopes of honest work. As Eddie grows suspicious of Rodolpho, he asks Alfieri for help, but Alfieri tells
him he has no legal recourse as Rodolpho has done nothing illegal. Eddie is then upset because he feels
that Rodolpho’s behavior simply isn’t right, and that he should have some way of getting justice for
Catherine and himself. When Eddie finally turns on Rodolpho and Marco, he is behaving legally, and
helping the Immigration Bureau enforce the law. But, in doing so, he is also betraying his own family,
and in this way not delivering justice. After Marco is put in prison, he wants his own form of justice
through revenge, but Alfieri warns him not to violate the law and appeals to a higher form of justice
when he tells Marco that he should leave the question of justice to God. For Marco, the law is in conflict
with his idea of natural justice, and so he goes on to stab Eddie. If Eddie chooses the law over justice in
turning Marco and Rodolpho in, Marco chooses his own form of justice over the law in killing Eddie.
As these examples suggest, the play can be read as displaying the failures of the law to guarantee real
justice. Alfieri describes himself as powerless several times, emphasizing his inability as a man of law to
stop the tragic events of the play. However, those who try to take action on behalf of their own ideas of
justice regardless of the law end up causing themselves and others harm. When he has no legal recourse
to separate Rodolpho and Catherine, Eddie turns Rodolpho and Marco in, setting off a chain of events
that ostracizes him from his family and neighborhood (and also leads to his own death). And Marco’s
attempt to find justice by killing Eddie results in only more pain for his family, with Eddie’s tragic death
at the end of the play. The play can thus be seen as rather ambivalent about the relationship between
justice and the law: the law does not necessarily cover all issues of right and wrong adequately. Not all
that is legal is right, and not all that is illegal is always wrong. But at the same time, the play cautions
against taking justice into one’s own hands, which both Marco’s and Eddie’s actions reveal to be a
dangerous, not to mention ineffective course of action.


If A View from the Bridge is the story of Eddie’s tragic decline, it is also the story of Catherine’s
attempted ascent into maturity and adulthood. Over the course of the play, Catherine grows, matures,
and attempts to carve out her own independent life, while Eddie struggles to keep her under his
control—and his roof. Catherine gradually matures, as she finds a job and begins to assert herself with
the help of Beatrice, who tells her not to act like a child anymore. Eddie misjudges Catherine’s maturity
and continues to see her as a young girl; because of this, he denies her independence. But she is not the
only one whose maturity he misjudges. He underestimates Rodolpho, repeatedly referring to him early
in the play as “just a kid.” And, given his own childish jealousy and behavior, Eddie perhaps
overestimates his own maturity, as well.

Eddie is sad to see Catherine grow up, and tries to hold onto her as she matures and becomes more
independent. But even late in the play, it is questionable to what degree Catherine really achieves
independence. For one thing, she still greatly cares what Eddie thinks, and tries to get him to come to
her wedding. Moreover, she first begins to assert her independence mainly because Beatrice advises her
to. Catherine thus ironically learns to think for herself by listening to someone else’s advice. And finally,
in moving away from the control of Eddie, she at least partially comes under the control of Rodolpho,
who calls her a little girl and whom she begs in tears to teach her. Given the play’s setting in the 1950s,
in a traditional Italian immigrant community, it would be difficult for a woman to achieve absolute
independence. Thus, even if Catherine still depends on others and her actions are partially dictated or
influenced by others, this should not negate the fact of the immense growth and maturation in her
character, as she gradually becomes more of her own person, and learns to assert herself against the
controlling, oppressive figure of Eddie.

As I have said, married to Beatrice and an uncle to Catherine (but not by blood).

 He’s a traditional man in the sense that he has a family and works.
 He’s a longshoremen that lives in Redhook.
 40 years old.
 His pride means a lot which means he won’t back down.
 More importantly, he won’t accept anything to put him down.

Now let’s go into the character of Eddie Carbone a little deeper…

 He’s sensitive but very defensive.

 Jealous that Catherine likes Roldopho (and possibly not himself?).
 He loves Catherine.
 Doesn’t listen to others.
 His opinion always seems ‘right’.
 Very stubborn.
 Hard to control and show his emotions.
 Short tempered.
 In-denial of his love for Catherine.
 But, apologises at the end to his wife ‘My B!’

The main focus on this play is on the relationship between Eddie and Catherine which could be seen as
more than paternal love (be it more than father loving son). Here’s a few hints throughout the play why:

– ‘puts his (Rodolpho) filthy hands on her like a god dam thief’ P35 – being very defensive here and
exaggerates a lot. Refers to Rodolpho as a thief when they is hardly true.
– ‘he’s stealing from me!’ P35 – to suggest Rodolpho is stealing makes it seem like Catherine is Eddie’s
– ‘I took out of my wife’s mouth’ P35 – he even put his wife Beatrice before Catherine. Shows how
much love he has for Catherine.
– ‘it’s breakin’ my heart, y’know’ P35 – this makes it sound like Catherine and Eddie are breaking up like
a couple! Well that’s Eddie’s opinion on the matter…

– ‘sometimes God mixes up the people’ – here Alfieri is trying to put across Eddie’s un-paternal love for
– ‘there is too much love for the daughter, this is too much love for the niece’ – again trying to explain
to Eddie he may have too much love for Catherine.
– ‘she can’t marry you can she?’ (Eddie) ‘(furiously) what are you talking about’ P35 – Alfieri puts it
straight that what Eddie wants can’t happen. Eddie turns defensive from the accusation, maybe to cover
up the truth?
– ‘But sometimes…there’s too much (love), and it goes where it shouldn’t’ P34 – he’s suggesting the
love of Eddie is going to the wrong person being Catherine.

Eddie makes it clear he has more than a paternal through the way he suggests Rodolpho is stealing
a possession from him and the way in which he tells Alfieri how it’s making him feel. If you told a person
who has never read a view from a bridge to read the section on P35, you would have thought Eddie was
Catherine’s boyfriend.
Alfieri understand where Eddie is coming from but tries to explain in nice words that he has too much
love for Catherine. He does this because Eddie will see Alfieri as disrespectful to accuse Eddie of such
thoughts. What more, Eddie has a short temper which Alfieri is almost juggling with in this conversation.
Beatrice also suggests signs that Eddie has too much love for Catherine ‘I’m not mad, you’re the one
that’s mad’. Even Beatrice knows how crazy Eddie has become and says it straight to his face as Eddie
has a strong relationship with Beatrice which lets Beatrice speak her opinion which is mostly true.

Later on in the play, when Eddie comes home drunk from a night out and finds Catherine and Rodolpho
in bed together, he reaction tells a lot about his feelings: for both Catherine and Rodolpho. He kisses
them both. But why? Bare in mind him being drunk released his true feelings towards each person.

Eddie kisses Catherine because:

 He doesn’t want to let Catherine go.

 He’s jealous as he hasn’t had sex in ages.
 He wants to show he loves Catherine.
 He wants to tell Rodolpho that she’s Eddie’s.

Eddie kisses Rodolpho because:

 He tries to prove Rodolpho is gay, ‘you see?’ P48, showing Catherine that because Eddie kissed
Rodolpho, Rodolpho is gay.
 Eddie comes up with the stereotype ‘if a man’s gay, he fancies every other man’.
 He’s drunk and mocking Rodolpho.
 He’s trying to insult Roldolpho. Rodolpho tried attacking Eddie but Eddie pins him down and
kisses him.

The kiss tells the audience a lot about Eddie as the alcohol makes his emotions just burst out. His
feelings for Catherine that have been hidden away have appeared and his anger in Rodolpho has arrived
too. Up until this point, Eddie was like a volcano waiting to erupt. At this point, he erupts and you could
say this is where his downfall starts to pick up pace.

Eddie Carbone as a Tragic Hero

A tragic hero…

 Descends into chaos and disorder – Yes. Eddie does descend into chaos and disorder and finally
 Is from Noble stock – No. Eddie is a longshoremen in Redhook. He is not from Noble stock.
 Has a fatal flaw – Yes. His love for Catherine and short temper are his fatal flaws.
 Often uses soliloquies (talking to themselves) to vocalise their thoughts and feelings – No.
Eddie is the total opposite of this where he finds it very difficult to vocalise or show his thoughts
and feelings.
 Is superior and has further to fall – Maybe. Eddie feels superior but falls as he feels he has lost
his respect and ‘superiority’ when he hasn’t lost anything really.

Eddie Carbone is not the typical tragic hero but definitely possesses the main traits of a tragic hero.
Without the traits that I said he has, he wouldn’t be a tragic hero.

The Snowball Effect – This is what a tragedy is: something

that’s small then becomes bigger and explodes at the end.
Throughout this play there is a lot of conflict be it verbal, physical or psychological. The conflict in this
play is significant in keeping to the snowball effect.

– Marco calls Eddie ‘Anima-a-al!’
– Marco again, ‘That one! He killed my children!’ P58
– Beatrice says, ‘You want something else, Eddie, and you can never have her!’ P62 (this is also a
bit psychological)

– The boxing between Eddie and Rodolpho P41
– Eddie kissing Catherine and Roldolpho P47 (psychological too)
– Marco spits on Eddie P57 (psychological too)
– Marco stabbing Eddie P64

Beatrice Carbone is a the wife of Eddie Carbone and lives in New York city. She is married to Eddie, the
blood aunt to Catherine and cousins with Marco and Rodolpho. Throughout the play, Beatrice is seen as
the only person who is on both sides that is Catherine and Rodolpho’s side and Eddie. She sometimes
gets jealous over Catherine and very emotion around Eddie as Eddie is pushing her to her limits.

First let’s get across the facts about Beatrice Carbone:

 As I have said, married to Eddie and blood aunt to Catherine as well as cousins to Marco and
 She wants Catherine to grow up.
 She’s a housewife.
 Supports her family.
 Loving and caring.
 Wants the best for everyone.

Now let’s go into the character of Beatrice Carbone a little deeper…

 She’s suspicious of Eddie and Catherine’s relationship and possibly jealous.

 Knows Eddie better than Eddie knows himself.
 Doesn’t want to take sides.
 Is the victim in this story? Loses husband and niece (to Rodolpho).
 Stays by Eddie‘s side.
 The mediator being the only one everyone can talk to.

An important part of the play is when Beatrice has a chat to Catherine about Eddie giving her advice on
what she should do Here’s the advice Beatrice gives Catherine (page numbers will be from the book to
the right):

 Stick up for yourself

 Don’t worry about Eddie’s feelings
 Be independent P30
 Grow up P30
 ‘Be yourself’ P30
 Catherine and Eddie should let go of each other P31
 Don’t go into the bathroom whilst he’s shaving in his pants
 Don’t hug Eddie when he comes in from work
 Move out
 Don’t work around in your slip

Here’s the important parts in the play involving Beatrice:

 Stands up to Eddie, persuades him to let Catherine to have the job as secretary P10-11.
 When she asks about her sexual relationship with Eddie P24.
 Warns Catherine that she flirts with Eddie P30.
 When she realises Eddie called immigration P56.
 When she stands up to Eddie about how Eddie wants Catherine P62-63.
 Loves Eddie, Eddie cries out’My B!’ to her P64.

Important quotes:

 ‘When am I gonna be a wife again Eddie?’ P24

 ‘(to Catherine) gotta be your own self more’
 ‘(to Catherine) the time came when you said goodbye (to Eddie)’
 ‘My God, what did you do?’ (to Eddie) P56
 ‘Don’t call him that’ (to Catherine) P61
 ‘You want somethin’ else Eddie, and you can never have her!’ P62
 ‘I love you (Eddie)’ P62
Beatrice is seen as the victim in this tragic hero as she loses everything because of something not her
fault. We feel sympathy for her as the audience as there was nothing more she could have done. She
was always the ‘middle man (women I mean)’ and was, like Alfieri, powerless and liked him in some
way watched it run it’s ‘bloody course’. She loses Eddie and Catherine, the two people that mean most
to her. Beatrice is the character most impacted negatively in A View From the Bridge.

Eddie Carbone is an Italian longshoreman working on the New York docks. When his wife‘s cousins,
Marco and Rodolpho, seek refuge as illegal immigrants from Sicily, Eddie agrees to shelter them. Trouble
begins when his wife‘s niece is attracted to Rodolpho. Eddie‘s jealously eventually makes him call
immigration for the two cousins: he will do anything to get Rodolpho away from his wife’s niece
Catherine. Marco hates Eddie for this and spits at him before he is escorted away by immigration. Marco
then swears not to kill Eddie and is released on bail in which time Eddie tries to get his name and respect
from Marco. Marco refuses so Eddie tries killing him with a knife. Marco turns the knife so it points at
Eddie and stabs him in the stomach, killing Eddie: the tragic hero.

Alfieri’s Monologue
At the right beginning, a lawyer named Alfieri performs an opening monologue. He speaks about how to
came to New York 25 years ago in the era of Al Capone and Frankie Yale. He speaks colloquial and brings
up key issues that will be in the play of struggling to grow up in New York and running into gang warfare.
He also tells the audience this is a tragedy ‘watched it run it’s bloody course’ and the tragic hero’s name
is Eddie Carbone, ‘a longshoreman working the docks from Brooklyn Bridge.

We get the impression that the people of Red Hook are:

 Poor
 Have a lack of elegance and glamour
 not welcoming to outsiders
 untrustworthy
 a immigrant hotspot

The most important thing Alfieri says speaks for the region of Red Hook and the story plot itself:

‘Justly shot by unjust men’

People that deserved to be killed are shot by people who also deserved to be shot: criminals shoot
criminals. This brings up some ideas of:

 Law – all the law is not in a book.

 Justice.
 Distrust.
 Civilised.
 Compensation.
 Eviction.
 People deserved to be shot that had no right to shoot.
Back to the point all the law is not in a book, this is illustrated best with the example of Vinne Borsalno
(P5-15) which is a kid who snitched to immigration on his own family. Because of this, his own family
dragged him head first down the stairs and through him out turning their back on his like he’s not family.
People spat at him in disgust down the street. All the law is not in a book as there is a moral code too.
The early pages, pages 5-15, of the book we also find a bit about:
Eddie‘s feelings towards Catherine:

 He’s sad she’s growing up – ‘I’m responsible for you. You’re a baby, you don’t understand these
 He’s very protective – ‘(to Catherine) I don’t like the looks the’re giving you’.
 Proud of her beauty – ‘if your mother was alive to see you now she wouldn’t believe it’.
 Proud of her success – ‘(to Catherine surprised) Fifty?’

How Catherine feels about Eddie:

 Upset at his disapproval – ‘(almost in tears because he disapproves) What do you want me to
do?’ – It’s like she’s given up.
 Eager to please.
 Repeats his opinion.

How Eddie feels about Beatrice:

 ‘too big a heart’.

 She fusses too much.
 ‘You mad at me lately?’

How Beatrice feels about Eddie:

 Annoyed – ‘you’re the one is mad’.

 Respect his authority.
 ‘Your’re an angel’.

Chain of Events of pages 36-42

On pages 36-42, how does Miller build the tension?

 Eddie says they paint oranges in Italy – P36

 Rodolpho: ‘lemons are green’ – P37
 Eddie to Marco, ‘I mean you know – they count the kids and there’s a couple extra’ – P37
 Eddie explains how you shouldn’t have a girl without permission like Rodolpho has – P38
 Eddie sets his rules – P38
 Beatrice backs Rodolpho, ‘Same chance in daytime’ – P38
 Catherine dances with Rodolpho using a record they bought together – P38
 Eddie, ‘He’s a cook too! He sings, he cooks’ suggesting Rodolpho is out of place at waterfront –
 Eddie invites cousins to boxing fight to change subject as he can’t sing or cook. Play to his
strengths – P40
 Has a little play boxing fight with Rodolpho to show his dominance over him – P41
 Marco challenges Eddie and uses his strength to pick up the chair. Marco proves his strength:
sets authority and shows he’s going to stand up to Rodolpho – P42

Key Events
Here is the key events of A View From the Bridge in order:

Insults Rodolpho about being different:

 Eddie keeps his head turned away – P23

 Louis and Mike conversation laughing at Rodolpho.
 Eddie, ‘B., the guy is no good!’
 Eddie, ‘he sings on the ship, did ja know that’

Suggests Marco’s wife will cheat on him

Boxing/punching Rodolpho

Kissing Rodolpho and Catherine

Calling immigration

Attacking Marco and dying

Important Quotes
P16-22 – The arrival of the cousins

 ‘Look kid’ – Eddie being disrespectful – P21

 ‘Do me a favour’ – Eddie disrespects Catherine
 ‘You’ll be quiet’ Marco says – Father figure
 ‘When you say go, we will go’ – Marco respects Eddie and his house
 ‘Older one sick in chest, my wife – she feeds from own mouth’ – P18


 Marco will be aware of Eddie’s discomfort around Rodolpho


 ‘You come early now’ – Marco – P39

 ‘Count kids and there’s a few extra when you come back’ – Eddie
 ‘No oranges in Italy’ – Marco takes control – P37
 ‘I beg you pardon Eddie’ – Marco wants an apology – P39
 ‘Sure, very good cook. Rice, pasta, fish, everything’ – Marco’s proud of Rodolpho, compliments
him on his cooking – P39

 Eddie disrespects Rodolpho and kisses him – P47
 ‘You see’ – Rodolpho loses pride and family honour – P47
 Eddie has a crazy thing going on for his niece Catherine but he goes judging others.


 Calling immigration bureau

 Beatrice gets angry at situation
 Marco spits in Eddie‘s face in front of everyone – P57
 ‘That one I accuse that one!’
 ‘That one! He killed my children! That one stole the food from my children!’
 ‘Animal! You go on your knees to me!’ (P63, he wants Eddie to admit it)


 ‘All the law is not in a book’ – Marco suggesting different type of justice – P59
 ‘I want my respect’ – Eddie wants his respect back – P60

A View From the Bridge?

The bridge mentioned in the title is indeed Brooklyn bridge, which is located just near Red Hook. It is
called a A View From the Bridge because Alfieri is giving the audience the same view he was given: a
powerless view like you are watching this tragedy from a bridge.

If Eddie is meant to represent everyman, does this mean that Miller believes all men love their nieces
(those who have nieces)? Of course not. What Miller does suggest is that we have basic impulses, which
civilisation has seen as harmful to society, and taught us to control. We have self-destructive urges, too,
but normally we deny these. Eddie does not really understand his improper desire, and thus is unable to
hide it from those around him or from the audience. In him we see the primitive impulse naked, as it
were: this explains Alfieri's puzzling remark that Eddie "allowed himself to be perfectly known".

Clearly, Eddie is, in the classical Greek sense, the protagonist of the play. Alfieri tells us this at the end of
his opening address: "This one's name was Eddie Carbone..." Eddie is the subject of Alfieri's narrative,
and all other characters are seen in relation to him. We are shown at first a good man who seems
perfectly happy: he has the dignity of a job he does well, he is liked in the close-knit community of Red
Hook, he has the love of wife and foster-daughter/niece, and his doubts about Catherine's prospective
job are not very serious.

Back to top

Showing a happy domestic scene is a favourite device of Miller's. Next a catalyst is introduced, and we
see, by steady and inexorable stages how the happiness is destroyed. A catalyst is literally something
which speeds up a chemical reaction; in this play it refers metaphorically to Rodolpho, one of Beatrice's
illegal immigrant cousins. Catherine's attraction to him brings Eddie's love for his niece into the open.
This unlawful love first appears in Eddie's obsessive concern with Catherine's appearance and way of
dressing: "I think it's too short," he says of a dress. He goes on: "Katie, you are walkin' wavy! I don't like
the looks they're givin' you in the candy store. And with them new high heels on the sidewalk - clack,
clack, clack. The heads are turnin' like windmills".
Back to top

Later, as Catherine is attracted to Rodolpho, Eddie tries to discredit his rival: he first implies that
Rodolpho is not serious, merely in search of American citizenship. When this fails he comes to believe
that Rodolpho is a homosexual, and tries to show up his lack of manliness. The failure of this in turn
causes him to betray Rodolpho and Marco, a futile gesture, as Rodolpho is allowed to stay. Indeed, his
marriage to Catherine is brought forward to secure his staying in the country. Marco's accusation of
Eddie leads him, in the latter stages of the play, to an impossible effort to recover his good name in the
community. In his doomed attempt to force Marco to take back his accusation, Eddie dies.

This general outline of Eddie's declining fortune in the play can now be seen in more detail. When Eddie
meets the brothers he is friendly to both, but he warms quickly to Marco, a man's man, and superficially
like Eddie. When Marco "raises a hand to hush" Rodolpho we read that Eddie "is coming more and more
to address Marco only". He is made uneasy by the talkative young man with his unusual blond hair.

Back to top

Eddie will seek to discredit any rival. In Rodolpho's case, he quickly finds a "reason" for this. Rodolpho is
slightly-built, blond, a good singer and dancer, and he can cook and make dresses. Moreover, Mike and
Louis seem to share this view: "He comes around, everybody's laughin' ," says Mike. The stage directions
indicate seven times that Mike and Louis laugh; finally, they "explode in laughter". After this, Eddie
abuses his trust as a wise father-figure to persuade Catherine that Rodolpho is a "hit-and-run guy" and
"only bowin' to his passport". She protests disbelief but is clearly shaken until Beatrice reassures her.

Eddie tells Alfieri of Rodolpho, that "he ain't right", and that "you could kiss him, he was so sweet", but
Alfieri advises him that there is nothing he can do. In the conclusion to the first act, we see how Miller
has choreographed the action.

Back to top

 First, Rodolpho dances with Catherine, symbolically taking her from Eddie. Eddie's bitter
response is three times to repeat the formula: "He sings, he cooks, he could make dresses...I
can't cook, I can't sing, I can't make dresses, so I'm on the water front. But if I could cook, if I
could sing, if I could make dresses, I wouldn't be on the water front". The stage direction tells us
that Eddie has been "unconsciously twisting the newspaper" and that he senses "he is exposing
the issue".
 In the second movement, Eddie tells Rodolpho about boxing matches and offers to teach him to
box. After allowing Rodolpho to land some blows, Eddie strikes him harder: "It mildly staggers
Rodolpho". The three onlookers all see what Eddie is trying to do, but his attempt to make
Catherine think less of Rodolpho has failed.
 The third, and final movement comes from Marco, who invites Eddie to lift a chair by one of its
legs. When Eddie fails, Marco lifts the chair, and raises it "like a weapon over Eddie's head".
Once more, the other characters watch the action attentively.

Back to top
The second act opens with an episode which relies equally on the stage action, as the drunken Eddie
kisses both Catherine (to show her how a "real man" kisses) and Rodolpho (partly to show Catherine
that he enjoys it, and that his failure to resist it is significant; partly, just to humiliate Rodolpho). The first
kiss (which is near-incestuous) and the second (because a man kisses another) will repel the audience.

In 1955, when the play was first performed, the double kiss would have been utterly shocking. Eddie has
lost the audience's sympathy, and loses it yet further when he calls the immigration authorities. At the
time, we see how the phone-booth gradually lights up, symbolizing the triumph of Eddie's desperation
over his conscience.

Back to top

Earlier in the play, Eddie has told the story of Vinnie Bolzano, precisely to show us his belief in loyalty to
family and community. There is also irony in Eddie's doing exactly the same thing of which he has
spoken with such horror. Eddie has warned Catherine that "you can quicker get back a million dollars
that was stole than a word that you gave away". Now he find this to be true: his feigned horror on
finding the Liparis have relatives sharing with Marco and Rodolpho, and his suggestion that they are
being tracked, coming just before the immigration officers arrive, is a giveaway. Eddie tries to outface
Marco, but the accusation is believed. Lipari and his wife, Louis and Mike, the stage representatives of
the wider community, one by one leave Eddie alone, symbolizing his isolation.

Back to top

The climax of the play is like the "showdown" at the end of a western. Marco is coming to punish Eddie;
Eddie in return will demand his "name" back. Marco believes it is dishonourable to let Eddie live, but has
given his word not to kill him. Eddie's pulling a knife means that Marco can see justice done, while
keeping his word. Again the action is symbolic of the play's deeper meaning. Eddie literally dies by his
own hand, which holds the knife, and is killed by his own weapon; but Eddie also metaphorically
destroys himself, over the whole course of the play. And this is what Alfieri introduces to at the play's
opening: the sight of a man destroying himself, while those around him are as powerless as a theatre
audience to prevent it.

Back to top

We have considered Eddie in terms of what he does and says, but we should also consider how we are
meant, finally, to see him.

Alfieri's speeches generally explain Eddie's actions and Alfieri's own inability to save him. But his last
speech tries to explain the mystery of Eddie's character. Most of us, says Alfieri, are "civilized",
"American" rather than Sicilian. Most of us "settle for half", and this has to be a good thing. (He has
earlier told us with relief of the passing of the gangster era, and that he no longer keeps a loaded gun in
his filing cabinet). But although Eddie's death was "useless", yet "something perversely pure calls to
[Alfieri] from his memory - not purely good, but himself purely, for he allowed himself to be wholly
known". Most of us, says Alfieri, being more educated, more sophisticated, more in control, can either
hide our feelings or, better, overcome them.

Back to top
Eddie is a suitable subject for a modern tragedy because the potential for self-destruction, which is in all
of us, in Eddie's case has destroyed him. And apart from this improper love, Eddie is a good man; and
this love has its origin in the quite proper love of father for child, and Eddie's sense of duty to his family
and community. This is shown in the early part of the play in the love and trust Catherine and Beatrice
have for Eddie, and of what we learn of his hustling for work when Catherine was a baby. Eddie is a very
ordinary man, a decent and well-liked man, and yet the one flaw in his character forces those around
him and Alfieri to watch "powerless" (as does the audience) as the case runs "its bloody course".

Back to top


After Eddie, Alfieri's is probably the most important rôle in the play. He is, of course, in some (not much)
of the action, as Eddie consults him. This is essential, as it explains how he has come to know the story.
Miller has said that he wanted to make this play a modern equivalent of classical Greek tragedy. In the
ancient plays, an essential part was that of the chorus: a group of figures who would watch the action,
comment on it, and address the audience directly.

In A View from the Bridge, Alfieri is the equivalent of the chorus. He introduces the action as a retelling
of events already in the (recent) past. By giving details of place, date or time, he enables the action to
move swiftly from one episode to another, without the characters having to give this information. This is
often skilfully mixed with brief comment: "He was as good a man as he had to be...he brought home his
pay, and he lived. And toward ten o'clock of that night, after they had eaten, the cousins came".
Because much of this is fact, we believe the part which is opinion.

Back to top

We also trust a lawyer to be a good judge of character and rational, because he is professionally
detached. Alfieri is not quite detached, however. His connection with Eddie is slight: "I had represented
his father in an accident case some years before, and I was acquainted with the family in a casual way".
But in the next interlude, Alfieri tells us how he is so disturbed, that he consults a wise old woman, who
tells him to pray for Eddie. You should consider what Alfieri says in each of the interludes, and you must
be able to find them quickly.

In the brief scenes in which Alfieri speaks to Eddie, we gain an insight into his idea of settling for half. He
repeatedly tells Eddie that he should not interfere, but let Catherine go, "and bless her", that the only
legal question is how the brothers entered the country "But I don't think you want to do anything about

Back to top

As Eddie contemplates the betrayal, Alfieri reads his mind and repeatedly warns him: "You won't have a
friend in the world...Put it out of your mind".

Alfieri as the chorus/narrator need never leave the stage. Stage directions refer not to exits and
entrances but to the light going down or coming up on Alfieri at his desk, as we switch from the
extended bouts of action (flashbacks to Alfieri) to the interludes which allow him to comment, to move
forward in time, and give brief indications of circumstantial detail, such as the source of the whisky
Eddie brings home at the start of Act Two. Alfieri's view is also the "view from the bridge" of the title. To
those around Eddie, those "on the water front", the events depicted are immediate, passionate and
confused. But the audience has an ambiguous view. In the extended episodes of action we may forget,
as Marco lifts the chair, or as Eddie kisses Rodolpho, that Alfieri is narrating. What we see is theatrical
and exciting; we are involved as spectators. But at the end of the episode, as the light goes up on Alfieri,
we are challenged to make a judgement. If Eddie, as we see him, appeals to our hearts, Alfieri makes
sure we also judge with our heads.

Back to top

Catherine and Beatrice

Both Catherine and Beatrice are very likeable characters. Miller deliberately developed the part of each
in revising the play for its London production (and this is the version he has chosen to publish). In
studying Catherine you should consider how Eddie sees her, and how she sees him. In the course of the
play the second of these changes considerably. What are the key events that cause this change?
Beatrice is a much more stable character. Where the young Catherine is uncertain, Beatrice is mature
and has a clear view of matters. Eddie's ceasing to have sexual relations with her, of course helps her
see his problem. She talks to Eddie and to Catherine, but her relationship to Eddie seems more that of a
friend than that of wife and lover.

Back to top

Eddie has a more obvious relationship with Catherine. We watch her gradually free herself of
dependence on him, as she moves closer to Rodolpho, but Eddie's kiss accelerates the process. She is
bitter in her condemnation of Eddie after he has betrayed Marco and Rodolpho, but she shows she still
cares for him when she says: "I never meant to do nothing bad to you", as he dies. The two women have
a good relationship with each other; this is never as intense as Catherine's relationship with Eddie, but it
outlasts it.

Beatrice has reason to be jealous but is generous to Catherine at all times. She knows Eddie has done a
terrible thing in calling the authorities, but stands by him. Both women are present as Eddie dies, and
their concern makes Alfieri's plea for our sympathy more persuasive. You should know in which episodes
each appears, and what both say.

Back to top

Look at Catherine's relations with Eddie, with Beatrice and with Rodolpho; look at Beatrice in relation to
her niece and husband. Is Beatrice's childlessness significant? Look at Catherine's actions which show
her closeness to Eddie. She brings him a beer or lights a cigar; Beatrice tells us that she sits on the edge
of the bath while Eddie shaves, and walks around in her slip (we do not see this), and Catherine explains
to Rodolpho how she can sense Eddie's moods: "I can tell a block away when he's blue in his mind and
just wants to talk to somebody..." Catherine's part is ambiguous in several ways: she is, at seventeen,
but socially inexperienced, both little girl (Rodolpho calls her this) and adult woman; to Eddie she acts
both as daughter and as lover; she is a simple, pretty girl from Brooklyn but Eddie sees her as a
"Madonna". (This has nothing to do with the celebrated singer, who was not even born in 1955. It refers
to the Virgin Mary as she is depicted in Old Master paintings of the nativity. Madonna literally means
"my lady", in Italian - the language of Eddie's native land.)

Back to top

Marco and Rodolpho

In the play the brothers, widely separated by age, are usually referred to in this order, but Rodolpho is
more prominent in the first act and at the start of the second, while Marco becomes more important
towards the end of the play. Make sure you know why this is. In every sense except their being brothers,
the two are unalike. This is not just a subtle matter of character, but is shown in ways which are obvious
in a theatre. They look different, they act differently and their speech differs.

Rodolpho is slender, graceful and (unusually in a Sicilian) blond-haired (Eddie nicknames him "Danish");
he is strong enough to work, but weaker than the thick-set Eddie. Marco is not simply strong by
contrast, he is unusually strong by any standard, and excites admiring comment from Mike. Marco is
dark and powerfully built.

Back to top

Where Rodolpho speaks almost incessantly, Marco is often silent. He has some difficulty speaking
English, but this is not his only reason. He is very attentive to what is going on and being said, he thinks
and then speaks, and he clearly believes actions speak louder than words, whether in unloading a ship
or threatening Eddie. In the latter case, as he raises a chair like a weapon, he is able to express an idea
which he would not wish to put into words as it would seem to show ingratitude to his host. Rodolpho is
an enthusiast for all things American.

This explains why he spends money on fashionable clothes and records, of which Eddie so disapproves.
He loves Catherine but is appalled at her suggestion that they return to Italy. Marco, on the other hand,
clearly misses his family and has only come to the U.S.A. out of love for them. Rodolpho has learned,
presumably from tourists, records and books, how to speak fluent English. Marco speaks more slowly
and less correctly, but with simple dignity and clarity. Because there is no regular paid work in his home
country, Rodolpho has learned other ways to support the family: there is nothing so odd in his singing,
cooking and dress-making skills. But in a world where there is work, and men's and women's tasks are
clearly defined, as in Red Hook, these talents are suspect.

Back to top

Both Rodolpho and Marco are proud, but Marco has a stronger sense of the traditional values of the
community. When Eddie attempts a joke about the "surprises" awaiting men who return from working
in the U.S.A. for several years, Marco corrects him, while appearing not to see anything funny in the
suggestion. It is Marco who tells Alfieri that at home Eddie would already be dead for his betrayal: he
feels even more strongly than Eddie does the values which Eddie expresses in telling the story of Vinnie
Bolzano. Rodolpho, on the other hand, tries to calm his brother, and offers Eddie a chance to make
peace, a chance which Eddie spurns.
Marco feels a sense of responsibility for his brother (he tells him to "come home early") but also feels
responsible to the community, and ready to punish the one who has injured its unity, Eddie. It is
Rodolpho whom Eddie seeks at first to eliminate (by showing Catherine he is homosexual, then by
betraying him and Marco to the authorities). But after Marco spits in his face and announces: "I accuse
that one", Eddie's quarrel is with the elder brother. He will barely speak to Rodolpho and refers to him in
the third person when he is present: "He didn't take my name; he's only a punk. Marco's got my name."
Eddie understands that, in effect, a challenge has been issued by Marco; contradicting Marco is Eddie's
only way of trying to recover the lost name, but is as impossible as it is for him to have Catherine as a

Back to top

Dramatic techniques

You should read the comments on xiv - xix of the Hereford Plays edition, and note the discussion above
of Alfieri's function as narrator and commentator. How the playwright tells the story on stage is a matter
of dramatic technique. To give an essay on the subject some kind of plan, you need to write a section on
as many of the following as you think you understand: the structure of the play in episodes and
interludes; the rôle of Alfieri; action, as shown in stage directions; the set and other properties, including
effects of sound and lighting; the language of the dialogue, and symbolism.

Back to top


The structure of the play is quite simple. Originally a one-act drama, the play was extended to allow an
expanded part for Catherine and Beatrice. At this point an interval became necessary, and Miller used
the two acts to mark a division in Eddie's story: in the first act, he tries to keep Catherine from falling in
love with Rodolpho; in the second, he finds he has failed in this, and first throws Rodolpho out of the
house, then tries to have him deported as an illegal immigrant, which provokes the fatal confrontation
with Marco, as Eddie tries to recover his name. Within each act are clear episodes; you should know
what these are, and find the interludes of comment and narration from Alfieri which mark where each
begins and ends.

Back to top


Action is most important in this play. Because of Eddie's and Marco's limitations as speakers, and
because some matters cannot be openly discussed, ideas are often shown in gesture and action.
Sometimes this is apparently minor detail, but at times it is highly symbolic. When we see Catherine
serve food (p. 11) or offer Eddie a beer (p. 5) or light a cigar for him (p. 15), when we hear of how she
sits on the bath as he shaves and walks around in her slip, we are being told about their relationship.
Without being lovers, they have the kind of intimacy only lovers should have. For a 1950s audience,
familiar with the image from hundreds of films, the lighting of the cigar would be the most suggestive
action, probably.
Later in Act One, we see Eddie sitting, reading the paper, while Marco reads a letter; Rodolpho helps
Beatrice stack the dishes and then reads a movie magazine with Catherine. What does this suggest? At
moments of high drama or climaxes, we often see some very striking action.

Back to top

The climax of Act One is beautifully choreographed by Miller: Rodolpho teaches Catherine to dance, the
action allowing physical closeness; Eddie, to "win back" his beloved, humiliates Rodolpho in a boxing
"lesson"; but the final action trumps Eddie's, as Marco, who has silently watched what is happening,
shows Eddie the danger he invites by threatening Rodolpho. Politeness does not permit Marco to say
anything, and the gesture is far more effective as the audience sees the chair "raised like a weapon"
over Eddie's head, symbolizing the destruction he will shortly bring on himself.

The two kisses at the start of Act Two are equally effective on stage: one with its suggestion of incest
and the other illustrating Eddie's mistaken belief in Rodolpho's homosexuality. When Marco is arrested
he shows his condemnation of Eddie before he speaks it, as he spits in his face. The final action of the
play is where Eddie dies by his own hand (a metaphor of his self-destruction) and his own weapon
(perhaps a metaphor for his sexuality).

Back to top

Set, properties, sound and lighting

The set of the play is not (or should not be) naturalistic (closely or exactly resembling what it depicts).
The building is "skeletal" but the few props (properties - objects used on stage) are authentic-looking.
The arrangement enables the inside of the apartment, the street outside and Alfieri's office all to be
represented without any scene changes. The area in use will be lighted when needed, otherwise dark.
Alfieri can remain on stage throughout, if need be: the light can go up or down as required. Props may
be as simple as the coins Mike and Louis pitch, or Eddie's pocket knife for cutting an apple. One very
important prop is the phonograph (record-player) which is used in the dancing episode, to play Paper
Doll. At the start of the play a foghorn tells us where we are. Lighting is used theatrically, as the phone
booth glows brighter and brighter, signalling Eddie's idea, then determination, to call the immigration

Back to top


The device of depicting Italian and Sicilian immigrants, enables Miller to make them more or less
articulate in English. Only Alfieri, is a properly articulate, educated speaker of American English: for this
reason he can explain Eddie's actions to us, but not to Eddie, who does not really speak his language.
Eddie uses a naturalistic Brooklyn slang ("quicker" for "more quickly", "stole" for "stolen" and so on). His
speech is simple, but at the start of the play is more colourful, as he tells Catherine she is "walkin' wavy"
and as he calls her "Madonna".
Catherine's speech is more often in grammatically standard forms, but not always. Her meekness is
shown in the frequency with which her speeches begin with "Yeah", agreeing with, or qualifying, Eddie's

Rodolpho speaks with unnatural exactness. The words are all English but the phrases are not always
idiomatic. He recalls vivid details of his life in Sicily, and he is given to poetic comparisons, as when (p.
46) he likens Catherine to "a little bird" that has not been allowed to fly.

Marco has to think before he can speak in whole phrases or sentences; this means he says little, which,
on stage, reinforces two ideas: that Marco is thoughtful, and that he is a man of action, rather than


Symbolism is most often found in the action, and has been discussed above (the dancing, the chair-as-
weapon, Eddie's dying by his own hand). The set as well as accommodating the action is symbolic of
Eddie's world and values: the apartment (home, where the family is) and the street (the wider
community, where he meets friends).

The story of Vinny Bolzano is a parable about the need for solidarity and loyalty in the community (this
ranks even above family ties, it seems), but also is prophetically symbolic of Eddie's own act of

Finally, there is symbolism in the play's title. After we see have seen the play, we wonder why the play is
so named. We are made to think of the more panoramic view, which sees things, from afar, in relation
to each other. It is not the view from ground level or the "water front", but a detached and objective
view. This is the view we should have of Eddie, the view of Alfieri, the view that is "civilised" and will
"settle for half".
The Clod and The Pebble

Songs of Innocence and of Experience is divided into two halves. The first half is about Innocence, and
the second half is about Experience. The two concepts for William Blake represented two polar
opposites of the soul. Rather than define them or analyze them, it was Blakes intent to evoke them.

Traditional western morality often views the world through the lens of good versus evil.

Yet, William Blake goes beyond this simple view. Instead of talking about good versus evil, he talks about
Innocence versus Experience. He does not try to say which is better than the other, only that both exist
and are a part of us.

Innocence represents our childhood state. Blake associates it with spontaneity, submissiveness, and the
imagination. Experience, on the other hand, represents adulthood. Blake associates it with calculation,
aggressiveness, and authority.

The Clod and the Pebble presents to the reader two different lenses on love. We see love first through
the lens of Innocence, and then through the lens of experience.

This explains why the poem reveals so much about William Blake’s two concepts. The goal of our
analysis should be to reveal as much as we can about William Blake’s dual conception of love.

The Clod and the Pebble analysis: First Stanza

“Love seeketh not itself to please,
Nor for itself hath any care,
But for another gives its ease,
And builds a Heaven in Hell’s despair.”

Our analysis of The Clod and the Pebble by William Blake first turns to the beginning stanza of the poem.

This stanza seeks to define love in a particular way. Love is described as a selfless act. Love isn’t about
pleasing oneself, but pleasing the object of the love. Take a minute to reflect on what this suggests. If
you love someone, then you should want to do things for them. You devote yourself to making them

So your work increases and another’s decreases. If you truly love the other person this should please
We’re told that this is how to build a “Heaven in Hell’s despair.” But how can this be? Consider a
person’s role in society. We all have to work to get by. Working isn’t always easy, right? Who looks
forward to Monday morning? Life can be quite hard.

Yet, what if we do this work for another? How about a parent that works to provide for their family?
Working to provide for others can be satisfying. Or another example, consider a small child that draws a
picture for his or her mother.

Love draws us out. Often we want to do just about anything for the person we love. Not because we
want something from them, but simply for the joy that it brings us.

Work is never easy. Labor is never easy. But when work and labor are done for someone we love, it can
become a joy. This is why William Blake suggests hell can be made into heaven.

The Clod and the Pebble analysis: Second Stanza

So sung a little Clod of Clay
Trodden with the cattle’s feet,
But a Pebble of the brook
Warbled out these metres meet:

In our analysis of The Clod and The Pebble by William Blake, we will now look at the second stanza.

Imagine that The Clod and The Pebble were an old fashioned scale. Innocence is on one side, and
experience is on the other. Between these two is the pivot upon which both balance. This second stanza
is that pivot.

The first stanza defines love as a selfless act. The third stanza, as we will see, defines love as a selfish act.
The second stanza is a pivot between these two views.

So who is offering us the view of selfless love? It’s a Clod of Clay. Who is this Clod of Clay? Well, it’s a
Clod of Clay that’s been trodden on by cattle’s feet.

What are some features of clay? It’s soft and pliable. It can easily be molded to fit whatever need arises.
It’s inherently unformed. It holds the potential to become anything. These are all features that suggest
to the reader Innocence.

Now who offers us the viewpoint of selfish love? It’s a Pebble from a brook. What are the features of a
pebble? It’s hard. While the world of the brook changes form ceaselessly around it, the pebble refuses
to change. Like a baked cookie, the pebble holds no unknown potentials. It’s a finished and done object.
What do the different features of a Clod of Clay versus a Pebble suggest to our analysis? This is an
important question.

The Clod and the Pebble analysis: Third Stanza

“Love seeketh only self to please,
To bind another to its delight,
Joys in another’s loss of ease,
And builds a Hell in Heaven’s despite.”

Now in our analysis of The Clod and The Pebble by William Blake, we will examine the third stanza.

In this case, we are to see love as something that takes from others. It’s not hard to imagine a man that
loves a woman and basically want to take from her. For William Blake, we think this is the type of selfish
love he has in mind.

Love can be more selfish than anything else. We often expect so much of the person we love. We often
want all their time and attention. We want them to agree with us on all things. We want them to swear
allegiance to us. We are pleased when they do things for us. Love can be more selfish than anything

But then what of the other person. Consider the case of a man turning his lover into a kind of object
that’s there only to serve him. Or consider the case of a woman that uses her man only as a
breadwinner so she can have more freedom. These are both adult and selfish forms of love.

While love can be beautiful and heavenlike. But if we are not careful selfish side of love can make a hell
of another’s life. We constantly demand more and more of them until their life becomes intolerable.
This heavenly love builds for someone a hell on earth.

The Clod and the Pebble analysis: Summary and Interpretation

Our analysis of The Clod and the Pebble by William Blake will now take what we’ve learned so far and
summarize and interpret it.

We don’t think William Blake intends to say there are two separate forms of love. We think instead he
wants to suggest there are two different aspects to love. Love can be selfless and selfish at the same

A simple view of the world says some things are good, and some things are evil. You should stay stick to
the good things and stay away from the evil things. William Blake’s view is much more nuanced.
He suggests that love contains the seeds of Innocence and of Experience. Both these aspects of love are
both intrinsic to each other. They are interwoven and inextricable.

Consider if everyone’s love were entirely selfless? This would turn all of us into docile slaves a the mercy
of others. Consider if love were entirely selfish? We’d all be constantly trying to victimize each other.
William Blake suggests that when our love is both selfish and selfless, it will be balanced. Love is giving
and receiving.

If we understand this dual aspect of love, then we gain insight into William Blake’s deeper views. Just as
love contains two aspects, one of innocence and one of experience, so do our souls. Thus, life isn’t about
choosing good or evil. Instead, it is about finding the right balance between Innocence and Experience.
Both of these aspects of ourselves define us, just as they both define love.

Love is a common theme in the literary world, but none talk of it with such fluency as William Blake. In
William Blake's poem, "The Clod and the Pebble," his use of heaven and it's connotations with
selflessness reveal that only by giving away oneself, and allowing others to use us, can we be truly
.rewarded by our love

In the first stanza of the poem, Blake describes the clods perspective of love. In the clod's view, love is
seen as a selfless, caring, and even amenable force. His perspective of love seems almost religious, with
how pure and innocent his ideas are, and is further cemented as a religious perspective due to the fact that
this love, "builds a Heaven…," and also since it comes from a clod made of clay, which represents the
medium god supposedly used to create man. The connection between the clod, and the fact that it
believes love to be a wonderful amazing power, indicates that only a clod or something that is lowly and,
trodden with the cattle's feet," would feel this way, since the pebble, as something which represents a "
more sophisticated or a higher beings view point, says that love is selfish and sadistic. The confliction of
the two earthly objects views on love leads to the unveiling of the concept that love is only beneficial to
one if he or she is willing to sacrifice and humble oneself, such as the clod did, and that love can be
.disastrous when used in a self centered manner

The connection between the objects and their views on love also form another layer of truth to the nature
of love. The pebble, which is something that is arguable more valued than a clod, is represented as the
wiser or more educated being in poem, which could represent a person of higher intellects views on love,
while a clod or fool, believes in an idealistic fantastical view of love. On this basis it becomes clear that
Blake is saying that only the dimwitted individual believes love is a holy thing, and that a person with any
intelligence will know that love can be a cruel and destructive force
?Proofread my lieterary analysis on The clod and the pebble by william blake

William Blake’s “The Clod and the Pebble” we see the two metaphors used to describe the contrasting
sides of love. Blake uses a Clod and a Pebble as his metaphors for love. The clod exemplifies a selfless
kind of heavenly love, while the pebble represents a stubborn and selfish kind of love. The theme of the
poem is the two contrasting sides of love represented by a clod and a pebble. William Blake says loving
others “builds heaven in hell’s despair.” That is the kind of love Blake thinks we should strive for in this
The clod in Blake’s poem is a metaphor for a selfless pure kind of love. The Clod represents a heavenly
biblical love, which puts others in front of him. Blake stated at the beginning of his poem, “Love seeketh
not itself to please,/ Nor for itself hat any care,/ But for another gives it ease) 1,2,3).” The clod gets joy
out of helping others. A clod is soft, and it will not hurt someone. It can be molded, changed stepped on,
and squished without pain for anyone. The clod also represents a person full of innocence. It represents a
person that has not been drove to the point of being a pebble by the hard times of life. That is why a clod
.is a perfect metaphor for this kind of love
The pebble in Blake’s poem is a metaphor for a selfish person that desires everything only for himself.
Blake states, “Love seeketh only Self to please,/ To bind another to its delight (9,10).” The pebble has no
feelings for anyone except himself. The pebble is the perfect metaphor for selfishness. A pebble is hard,
and it will not change. Just like the selfish love that the pebble represents. The pebble is also experienced
and has lost its innocence, unlike the clod. The pebble has been jaded by life and expects the worst out of
.people. This is why the pebble is so self-centered
Blake also uses heaven and hell as metaphors for the clod and the pebble. Talking about the clod, Blake
states, “And builds a heaven in hell’s despair (4).” Heaven is a strong metaphor to use, and that is a very
strong compliment to give the clod. However, Blake says the exact opposite about the pebble. Blake
states, “And builds a hell in heaven’s despite (12).” These metaphors show that the clod is trying to make
the best out of life. The clod wants to turn a hell into a heaven. However, the pebble builds a hell on earth
for everyone around him. The metaphors of heaven and hell prove just how contrary the clod and the
.pebble are
The clod and the pebble are perfect metaphors for the two kinds of love. They are the exact and complete
opposites. Everyone has traits of the clod and the pebble, but they usually have overwhelming traits that
determine whether they are a clod or a pebble. Kindness, selflessness, and understanding are good traits
.of the clod. The pebble possesses selfishness, pride, and stubbornness

"The Clod and the Pebble"

This poem takes up the refrain of love from the last line of “Earth’s Answer” and explicates two views on
the nature of love. The “Clod of Clay” sees love as selfless and giving, building “a Heaven in Hells
despair.” The hard “Pebble of the brook,” however, sees love as seeking “only Self to please” in order to
”.eventually build “a Hell in Heavens despite
The love that has been bound by Reason, and which must be renewed in order to free Earth from her
chains, is thus examined to ask if men love selflessly or selfishly. The difference in perspective aligns
with the “experiences” of the two inanimate speakers. The clod has been “Trodden with the cattle’s feet,”
so that it is malleable, but also easily shaped to the will of others. The pebble has been hardened by its
time in the brook and therefore offers resistance to any who would seek to use it for their own ends. By
contrast, the clod is somewhat mobile, whereas the pebble must remain at rest in its place on the bottom
of the brook. Blake uses his ironic voice of experience to point out that love, if done according to the
edicts of Reason, creates a Hell on earth, whereas selfless love—love from the heart and the ever-adapting
.Imagination—can make a Heaven out of the Hell surrounding mankind
Nonetheless, the poem does not allow the reader to side completely with the Clod and its view of love.
Both clod and pebble experience loss; the Pebble rejoices in the loss of others, while the Clod rejoices in
its own loss of ease. Even the Clod's Heaven is built on the despair of Hell, thus "taking" from another in
order to increase. In the "Experienced" mind, exploitation of others is a requirement for progress of any
Structurally, the poem appears at first to be two balanced syllogisms of the respective viewpoints. The
word “but” in line 6 is the turning point from the Clod's argument to that of the Pebble. The former
argument is one of Innocence, while the second shifts to Experience. That Blake chooses to end the
debate with the Pebble's argument lends to this poem an interpretation that favors the Pebble's hardened
point of view regarding love. However, the balancing lines "And builds a Heaven in Hell's despair" )line
and "And builds a Hell in Heaven's despite" )line 12( force the reader to see the two views as balanced )4
.and to reach his own conclusions based on personal experience

Poem Analysis

Posted by Ragan Glover

William Blake’s “The CLOD and the PEBBLE” provides two thought-provoking interpretations
regarding love. The first, which is given by a clod of clay, reasons that love is selfless and that “Love
seeketh not Itself to please.” The second, which is given by a pebble, is that love is selfish and that “Love
seeketh only Self to please.” Because the word love is personified throughout the poem, it is reasonable to
believe that Blake was speaking not specifically of love, but of human nature in general. Furthermore, by
examining the symbolism and artwork of this poem, the audience will better understand the contrasting
.interpretations of love given by the clod and the pebble
The clod of clay, which speaks first in the poem, represents a naïve perception of the world. The clod of
clay also offers a sort of “self-denying version of love” )Essick(. “The clod is pliable…and therefore is
chosen quite appropriately to represent unselfish love” )Damon(. They clod symbolizes innocence to the
experience of love. The pebble displays a sense of hope and selflessness, which based on the pebble’s
perspective, diminish with experience. In the poem, the clod of clay is “trodden with cattle’s feet” which
represents it true, self-sacrificing nature. However, as stated in the previous stanza, despite its sacrifices
”.the clod of clay makes a “heaven in hell’s despair
The last stanza of Blake’s poem discusses the pebble, which is considered “hard and selfish” )Damon(.
The pebble symbolizes experience in love which is very different from the inexperienced clod of clay.
The pebble offers a version of love that is based on fulfilling the needs of the self over others. The pebble
looks “to please the self using the beloved as a mean to that end even if this includes bondage and the
beloved’s “loss of ease”” )Essick(. The last line of the stanza states that the pebble “builds a hell in
heaven’s despite.” This statement indicates that the pebble seems to lack the hope that the clod of clay
holds onto so dearly. It seems that the experience of love has taught the pebble to build a barrier of
.defense and hurt others, rather than being hurt
Accompanying the poem is the artwork that Blake used to further convey his message. The artwork
consists of sheep and cows, both of which are considered cattle in his time, a sitting and a leaping frog,
and a worm. The cows in the artwork are also considered to represent experience, whereas the sheep
represent innocence )Wickstead(. The idea that cattle are representative of experience is perhaps
attributed to their rugged nature. Sheep are perhaps more delicate cattle, much like the clod of clay is
more delicate than the hard pebble. Beyond the cattle, the artwork is not considered to have much more
symbolism. In fact, Blake did not even color this piece or art, nor did he include it in his original copy of
Songs of Innocence and Experience. Reasoning behind this is suggested to be that the message was “too
far developed” for Songs of Innocence and Experience )Wickstead(. Instead, Blake chose two other
poems that consisted of similar, but less powerful meaning to complete the original copy. Furthermore,
the choice to color the artwork and to include it in later printed editions of Songs of Innocence and
.Experience was made after the death of William Blake
The message conveyed by the poem “The CLOD and the PEBBLE” is dependent on personal
interpretation of love. Blake’s presentation of the clod of clay and the pebble through symbolism
demonstrates how the perspective on love can depend on life experience. Following that idea, one who
has experienced and perhaps been “hardened” by love might believe that love is selfish and by believing
so, act selfishly. However, one who is new and perhaps “soft” to the experience of love, might believe
that love is selfless and continue to believe so until he or she is hardened by experience of love.
Regardless of interpretation, the poem presents a very old and important question - Are things what we
make them or does experience make us? This poem was written by the English poet William Blake. Blake
was a poet, painter and a printmaker. Largely unrecognised during his lifetime, Blake´s work is today
.considered seminal and significant in the history of both poetry and visual arts

According to Norhrof Frye, his Blake´s poems form “what is in proportion to its merits the least read
body of poetry in the English language”. Others have praised Blake´s visual artistry, at least one modern
.critic proclaiming Blake “far and away the greatest artist in Britain has ever produced

Blake is highly regarded today for his expressiveness and creativity, and the philosophical vision that
.underlies his work Blake

The poem was published as a part of his collection Songs of Experience in 1794. His spiritual beliefs are
evidenced of here, in which he shows his own distinction between the Old Testament and the New

Songs of Experience deals with the loss of innocence. Poems are darker, concentrating on more political
.and serious themes
The disastrous end of the French Revolution caused Blake to lose faith in the goodness of mankind,
explaining much of the volume’s sense of despair. Blake also believed that children lost their innocence
through exploitation and from a religious community, which put dogma before mercy. He did not,
however, believe that children should be kept from becoming experienced entirely. In truth, he believed
that children should indeed become experienced but through their own discoveries, which is reflected in a
number of these poems. Blake believed that innocence and experience were “the two contrary states of
.the human soul”, and true innocence was impossible without experience

We can say that this poem expresses symbolic references towards innocence and experience. For this
.reason I will talk about the Songs of Innocence too

Songs of Innocence was first published by itself in 1789. It mainly consists of poems describing the
innocence and joy of the natural world, advocating free love and a closer relationship with God. Its poems
have a generally light, upbeat and pastoral feel and are typically written from the perspective of children
.or written about them

Both, Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience, are a series of poems on how we see the world at
different stages of our lives. They are, as Blake says himself, “shewing the Two Contrary States of the
.”Human Soul

The word “songs” invokes images of musicality, from the pastoral shepherd’s pipe of the Introduction of
the Songs of Innocence to the bardic harp of The Voice of The Ancient Bard, concluding Songs of
Experience. Each collection shows comparative images of children, babies, religion and the general world
in which we live, and how we see things differently when we are first in a state of innocence and when we
.reach maturitywww.

The author of this poem was a Romantic poet. Romanticism was a movement is an artistic, literary, and
intellectual movement that originated around the middle of the 18th century in Western Europe, and
gained strength during the Industrial Revolution. It was partly a revolt against aristocratic, social, and
political norms of the Enlightenment period and a reaction against the scientific rationalization of nature
in art and literature. The movement stressed strong emotion as a source of aesthetic experience, placing
new emphasis on such emotions as trepidation, horror, and the awe experienced in confronting the
.sublimity of untamed nature

We have to think that Blake lived in London in the 18th century. The city was supposed to be a place full
of opportunities but not the countryside. For this reason, people emigrated from the countryside to the
.city. This movement was called Industrial Revolution


The poem is about two different points of view from love. One of view is from The Clod and other is
from The Pebble. The two views coexist and each view insures each other. The one can not never exist
.without the other

The poem shows contrast between these two personalities )the clod and the pebble(. The two contrasting
.points of view on love

..We can see the theme of love and the different aspects form it: love is altruistic, selfish


It is not a complex poem. There are two statements from two characters and a comment. Two statements
are opposite. It is a basic disagreement, a reply. We can find verbs such as “sung”, “warbled”, which
represent the idea of music. We can find a reporting statement from the first speaker. The two participants
talk about a third character who is not present. Only the Clod and the Pebble are present. The third
.”character is “love

The first line and second line are coordinated but in the third line we have got a different succession
.because of the word “but” that means that there is a conflict

.We have an image: “Love seeketh not itself to please” means that love is selfless

The line 1 and 2 indicates that love to the clod is good. The clod´s song is full of optimism

In the second stanza, we have the two participants. The clod is described as “trodden with the cattle feet”,
that means that the clod has been trampled on but he does not mind what is going to happen because he
.accepts that

In the first line we have the word “clay”, that means that the clod is soft, not hard. Soft means something
.sentimental, unrealistic, weak

Later we have the other participant, the Pebble. The Pebble is hard. Hard means something cinical,
unsentimental, realistic. He has a different point of view from the Clod. He is someone who has suffered
.of love. He described love as selfish

We have another image: the Pebble of the brook. This image says where is the Pebble. In the brook. This
.image explains the negative vision that love is or what will be. The Pebble has a negative tone

.”In the last line of second stanza, the word “meet” has the idea of “appropiate

Why the Pebble´s metres are appropiated? Perhaps there is an ambiguity. The two views are balanced one
.and other. The one can not exist without the other
.In the third stanza, we have a dark image

The first line: Love seeketh only Self to please means that love is selfish and for this reason the wor d
.Self” is capitalized“

.In the first and third line we can observe: please-ease. These words have an idea of pleasure

:We have another image. Heaven has two meanings

.it is associated with the idea of pleasure )1

.It is associated with the idea of pain, suffering )2

When the poem says: builds a Hell in Heaven´s despite means that the Pebble believes that love corrupts
.purity, honesty


.The rhyme scheme in the first and third stanza is the same: ABBA

Personal Response

This poem shows the two contrasting views of love. We can find two participants and maybe we can say
that the Clod is a female and the Pebble is a male. Why am I saying this? Because of the characters´s
speech since if we see this poem from a context of sexual love, we see that the Clod shows a kind of pure
and altruistic love )related with the concept of giving( that belongs to women; and the Pebble shows a
.selfish love )related with the concept of receiving( that belongs to men

This poem has been interesting because shows differents points of view. These points of view are present
in real life since when we fall in love, our relationship can be good )an altruistic love( or bad )selfish
love(. You decide what kind of love you want to have. But sometimes it does not depends on you


This is a beautiful poem about someone wallowing in their heartbreak induced misery and
lamenting the fact that they have to feel this way, not sharing the calm of the natural conditions
she observes around her.

However, it twists to a positive and upbeat message when she realises that, just like nature, life is
meant to be full of ups and downs – storms and sunshine, if you will. We are meant to feel that
passion should be embraced and we should acknowledge that emotional turmoil and ups and
downs are a crucial part of our earthly existence.
Passion” is a part of an anthology, “Songs of Ourselves Volume 2, Part 1” which focuses on the
themes of love and family. This poem by Kathleen Raine has 8 stanzas in total with 3 verses in
each one. She has used metaphors, personification, and many other language features in order to
put her message across — that love, even if it gets you down, should not keep you feeling down

The first stanza depicts an image of someone letting their mind and heart revel in solitude whilst
yearning for tranquility. The sadness in this stanza is reflected on how the personified sky
was “wounding” the person through drizzling rain, and massive clouds moving slowly in the sky
(“Each cloud a ship without me sailing”).

In the second stanza, the person insinuates that they only want to hear one thing – their beloved’s
voice. It is suggested that they had been planning on making a phone call, perhaps to gain
closure from their previous significant other – up to no avail, as they are unable to speak due to
immense pain from the heartbreak. The reader is able to empathize due to possibly recounting
painful experiences with heartbreak, as it is something which everyone can relate to – as written
by the poet: “With the well-known and mortal death, heartbreak.”

Due to the excruciating agony which heartbreak has caused, the person’s ability to speak their
mind has depleted, as explained in the third stanza. The third verse indicates that perhaps, the
person tried to persuade their significant other to stay or change their mind – but all in vain. The
poet used metaphors in order to describe her speech as two things: “Homer’s ghosts” as well as
“savage conches of the beach”. Homer is known as one of the greatest Greek poets, whose
works are mostly speeches. He has also provided many models in persuasive speaking and
writing. Referring to her speech as “Homer’s ghosts” prove that she attempted to persuade her
significant other. Meanwhile, the word “savage” merely reiterates the brutality of the feeling of
abandonment, as juxtaposed by the author with “conches” – which are attractive abodes
abandoned by snails. The setting of the conches being put on the beach could convey the
impression that the person felt like their relationship was at a lovely and peaceful place which
most people would enjoy, therefore implying that the person suffering the heartbreak was
confused as to why it ended.

The person gains a rather happy revelation from the personified sky in the fourth, fifth and sixth
stanza; that they had everything they’ve ever wanted, and must not dwell on the small cracks of
the road. One can choose to live optimistically or pessimistically (“Sleep in the tomb, or breathe
the living air”) even if the personified sky suggests that it would be best to live optimistically by
not being afraid of loving once more (“Lift up your heart again without fear”). It is also as if the
person is being told that the world comes with both the good and the bad, and it is up to them to
find the good in the bad, as well as the bad in the good – the Chinese philosophical concept of
yin and yang. (“This world you with the flower and with the tiger share.”)

The words of wisdom take effect on the person, as seen in the seventh stanza – the person is
portrayed to change their perspective from negative to positive: “Then I saw every visible
substance turn Into immortal, every cell new born”. The positivity is conspicuous as seen in the
eighth stanza where the sky clears up (“When the war ends, and the sky rolls away”) and is
recapitulated when the poet writes, “All is light, love and eternity”.
Everyone has, or will experience the anguish delivered by heartbreak during their lifetime.
“Passion” by Kathleen Raine acknowledges this, but also provides hope for everyone towards the
end, encouraging readers to get up and dust themselves off. The reality is that though the misery
may send you down into the spiral of depression, the heartache will only make you stronger and
will help you improve as a person – if you let it, with optimism.

1. Passion - Kathleen Raine Review and Analysis

"Passion" by Kathleen Raine is a poem written in free verse.


"Passion" is a poem that tells the readers the poet's own story; about how she felt, making it a somewhat
personal poem. It highlights the feelings of desire and love and uses nature as an image for descriptions.
It starts off with the poet feeling very low; as if in a dark phase and ends with her feeling revived; thanks
to nature seemingly "speaking" to her.


This poem is about the sorrow and anguish the poet felt when she had been forsaken by a loved one.
She longed for some communication but none was forthcoming. While so depressed, she '‘hears'’ the sky
speaking to her saying; she was one with the universal spirit; the eternal mountains, the clouds and the
oceans were part of her and the love she bore for them was more important than the unrequited love
that was troubling her.

Analysis and Annotation

Full of desire I lay, the sky wounding me, - The poet was burning with desire as she lay under the sky
that seemed to hurt her. – Oxymoron with “desire” and “lay” as they contradict each other as people
often desire to lay next to their beloved. It shows both the feeling of energy and inactivity.
Personification with “The sky” being able to physically hurt her.

Each cloud a ship without me sailing, each tree - The clouds that were sailing across the sky seemed
impersonal to her. Even the trees. – Personification with the clouds and trees being able to sail. Also
presents imagery.

Possessing what my soul lacked, tranquillity. - Her soul lacked calm and tranquillity.There was turmoil
and chaos within her.

Waiting for the longed-for voice to speak - She was waiting to hear the voice of a loved one.

Through the mute telephone, my body grew weak - She wanted the phone to ring but it was silent. While
so waiting she felt her body go weak. The absence of her beloved’s company caused her to feel
physically weak.
With the well-known and mortal death, heartbreak. - She seemed close to dying of heartbreak caused by
unrequited love – Metaphor comparing her feelings to death and physical pain demonstrating the power
of her emotion.

The language I knew best, my human speech - What the narrator was most familiar with was the
language of human speech.

Forsook my fingers, and out of reach - This language abandoned her fingers and stayed beyond reach.
Personification of language being able to abandon her.

Were Homer’s ghosts, the savage conches of the beach. - It was like the ghosts of Homer’s Odyssey that
lay like conches on the beach. – Metaphor proving that she attempted to persuade her significant other,
Meanwhile, the word “savage” merely reiterates the brutality of the feeling of abandonment.

Then the sky spoke to me in language clear, - At this point, the sky spoke to her unequivocally –
Personification with the sky being able to speak.

Familiar as the heart, than love more near. - This was as common as the heart and more familiar than
the love that she was pining for.

The sky said to my soul, `You have what you desire. - Speaking to her soul, the sky told her that she
already had what she was pining for - Personification with the sky being able to speak.
Anthropomorphism is used, creating an ethereal sense with the word “soul”

`Know now that you are born along with these - The same spirit that permeates nature is also part of

Clouds, winds, and stars, and ever-moving seas - She is one with the clouds, stars, the wind and the
restless sea - Imagery.

And forest dwellers. This your nature is. - Like the hermits in the forest, she is one with nature.

Lift up your heart again without fear - She can regain her spirit and be without fear.

'Sleep in the tomb, or breathe the living air, - It does not matter whether she sleeps in a tomb or is alive
and breathing.

This world you with the flower and with the tiger share.’ - The same universal spirit that lives in a flower
and the tiger is in her too – Paradox with her feeling both immortal and mortal.

Then I saw every visible substance turn - At these words she saw all that was visible. Metaphor and
allegory used to show a voice that tells her to move on.

Into immortal, every cell new born - Turn eternal, with every cell that was on earth. . Metaphor and
allegory used to show a voice that tells her to move on.
Burned with the holy fire of passion - Permeated with the sacred fire of passion - Anthropomorphism is
used, creating an ethereal sense with the word “holy” Imagery showing that new things in life were full
of love.

This world I saw as on her judgment day - Her view of the world was as it would be on the Day of

When the war ends, and the sky rolls away, - When all strife would be at an end and the sky is clear -

And all is light, love and eternity - And the world is filled with everlasting love and brightness.
Anthropomorphism is used, creating an ethereal sense with the word “eternity.