I told you I would have more content containing Literature. Well, here it is:
I will try to go through these one at a time. I really do read a great deal for my classes. Here is our first selection, Arthur Miller’s A View from the Bridge.
This is a great play that examines life of a small community of Italian in New York, Brooklyn I believe. The main character Eddie finds himself with deeper than acceptable feelings for the young girl, Catherine, he has raised since her mom died. Eddie’s wife is the girl’s biological niece. Eddie is forced to confront these feelings when two illegal immigrants that are also cousins of his wife Bea’s come to live them.
One of the cousins, Rodolpho makes the moves on Catherine and the two find themselves in love. Eddie wants more for Catherine. He has worked hard to provide her with the American dream; he wants her to do better and move out of that neighborhood.
Miller explores the nature of laws: natural law, written law, and the laws of communities. He also explores what it means to be family, and the lines of loyalty. Ask yourself: is it more wrong that Eddie, who is not related to Catherine but raised her, to love her or Rodolpho who is a cousin? This play challenged my ideas of love and right and wrong. I also had to ask myself what laws require more loyalty and where should loyalty begin and end. Does it end with your immediate family? Are they the most important? Or does loyalty extend to all family no matter how far removed? Do communities warrant as much loyalty as families?
I cannot say better than what Arthur Miller said himself about his views of tragedy. I will say that this play also looks at the nature of the tragic hero and explores the fact modern audiences do not need a king or noble to fall from grace. Modern audiences can see tragedy, if not more so, in the fall and plight of the common man. And for us to be invested, there needs to be that glimmer of hope. This play was set up very much like a Greek tragedy, Alfieri acting as Miller’s version of a chorus, warning us of the impending doom and telling us nothing is to be done but for fate to take its course.
“Tragedy, called a more exalted kind of consciousness, is so-called because it makes us aware of what the character might have been. but to say or strongly imply what a man might have been requires of the author a soundly based, completely believed vision of man’s great possibilities. As Aristotle said, the poet is greater than the historian because he presents not only things as they were, but foreshadows what they might have been. We forsake literature when we are content to chronicle disaster. … Tragedy, therefore, is inseparable from a certain modest hope regarding the human animal.”
—Miller “The Nature of Tragedy.”
“Insistence upon the rank of the tragic hero, or the so-called nobility of his character, is really but a clinging to the outward forms of tragedy. If rank or nobility of character was indispensable, then it would follow that the problems of those with rank were the particular problems of tragedy. But surely the right of one monarch to capture the domain from another no longer raises our passions, nor are our concepts of justice what they were to the mind of an Elizabethan king.
The quality in such plays that does shake us, however, derives from the underlying fear of being displaced, the disaster inherent in being torn away from our chosen image of what or who we are in this world. Among us today this fear is as strong, and perhaps stronger, than it ever was. In fact, it is the common man who knows this fear best.”
—Miller “Tragedy and the Common Man”
This is not his best play, but is still a great work. We get an inside glimpse of life and striving for the American dream that we might otherwise miss. The read was fast and enjoyable. The play has been done many times with famous people, and there is a movie version.