Essay Questions For A View From The Bridge

  • 1

    Does Catherine deserve any blame for Eddie's feelings towards her?

    Catherine is a teenager and has grown up with Beatrice and Eddie as her parents. She has not seen much of the world and is just experiencing what it feels like to be a woman. Given all this, she deserves absolutely no blame for her role in Eddie's obsession. He, on the other hand, is an adult, and he manipulates and preys on someone who is essentially a child. However, Catherine does give Eddie signs that encourage his attention, and here Miller complicates our moral sense of the two characters. Beatrice tells Catherine she must stop walking around in a slip and sitting on the edge of the bathtub while Eddie shaves in his underwear. Even the most naive teenager might realize these things on her own, it seems. Furthermore, Catherine gives a strange speech criticizing Beatrice for not being a good wife to Eddie and insinuating she does a better job of taking care of him. It is certainly likely that Catherine knows what she is doing to an extent, and even though Eddie is still in the wrong, his feelings are somewhat understandable.

  • 2

    What makes Eddie a tragic hero?

    Eddie is a classic tragic hero. He is an Everyman trying to live his life while burdened by a terrible secret and a terrible flaw. His love for Catherine and his inability to recognize it for what it is lead to his downfall. As Alfieri points out, this downfall is almost inevitable. Eddie can no longer look at himself perspicaciously; he cannot change or grow or deviate from his path. He does not achieve redemption and dies at the close of the play. However, despite his stubbornness and immoral love for Catherine, he retains some sympathetic qualities which also add to his status as a tragic hero; he is no villain whose comeuppance we yearn for. He is a regular man suffering from a tremendous guilt and burden, and his death is sorrowful.

  • 3

    Why is the play's setting important?

    While the psychosexual tension, repression, and violence of the story are universal (indeed, there are multiple parallels with Greek tragedies), Miller chose to set his play in his own era: 1950s America, in an immigrant population in Brooklyn. He does this to 1) assert the working-class nature of the protagonist, which exacerbates some of the tensions regarding Rodolpho "stealing" Catherine 2) delve into a population already marginalized by xenophobia 3) call attention to the persecution of supposed communists, which led to snitching and rumormongering. He makes us question the values of American society while presenting his universal drama.

  • 4

    How would you characterize Beatrice's relationship with Eddie?

    Beatrice is a beleaguered character if there ever was one. She watches her husband fall in love with her niece, stop sleeping with her, fall into rages/sulking/despair/violence, and utterly repress any true self-knowledge about what is going on. He even blames Beatrice for their marital problems and demands that she respect him more. However, in the end, all of her sharp words and accusations and cries of frustration are muted by her choice to stay with Eddie instead of going to the wedding. There are many speculations as to why she does this. She may truly love Eddie despite all he has done; she may fear the wrath of her community if she violates gender norms by leaving her husband; she may fear the loss of any economic security if she leaves. Whatever her reasoning was for staying with Eddie it is to no avail, for Beatrice still finds herself alone at the end of the play.

  • 5

    Why is Eddie so distrusting?

    Throughout the play Eddie expresses profound distrust of almost everyone he meets or knows. He says that the women cannot trust anyone to keep the secret about the immigrants. He does not trust men with Catherine. He does not trust Rodolpho. All of these examples are no doubt projections of Eddie's tormented psyche: he does not know himself or trust himself with his true feelings regarding Catherine and/or his potential homosexuality. Somewhere deep down he knows he is living a lie, so it is only natural that he projects that outward and assumes everyone else is full of secrets and subterfuge.

  • Past Paper Questions – A View from the Bridge

    You will have the option of picking from one of two questions on this paper. Each question is worth 40 marks and you should spend about 45 minutes on your chosen question. Only answer one!

    May 2010:

    1.       Examine the roles of Catherine and Rodolfo in this play.

    2.       How are the themes of obsession and desire explored in this play?

    November 2009:

    1.       How successfully does Miller present Eddie’s changing character, throughout the play?

    2.       In what ways are events and relationships in the play affected by the arrival of the Italian cousins?

    May 2009:

    1.       How successfully does Miller present the female characters in this play?

    2.       Show how the theme of jealousy is explored in this play.

    November 2008:

    1.       Alfieri speaks directly to the audience, and yet he is also a character within the action of the play. Explain what you think his importance is, in both roles.

    2.       Betrayal is an important theme in the play. Explain how Miller uses the characters to examine this theme.

    May 2008:

    1.       ‘There are many different ways of being a man.’ Choose two or more male characters and write about them to show how far you agree with this statement.

    2.       How does Miller illustrate the difficulties which immigrants face in this play?

    November 2007:

    1.       Some audiences feel angry about the behaviour of the male characters in this play. What do you think there is in any of the male characters which might make the audience feel this way?

    2.       Do you consider A View from the Bridge to be an effective title for this play?

    May 2007:

    1.       How are Marco and Rodolfo shown to be both similar and different? What is the importance of each character in the play?

    2.       Write about two situations in the play that involve conflict and explain their importance.

    May 2006:

    1.       What do you consider to be the dramatic importance of Beatrice and Catherine?

    2.       The ending of this play often brings about strong feelings in the audience. Explain your response to the ending of the play referring to the events which lead up to it.

    November 2005:

    1.       What is the importance of Alfieri, both when he is talking directly to the audience, and in his relationships with the other characters?

    2.       In what ways does the relationship between Eddie and Beatrice change during the play?

    May 2005:

    1.       Throughout the play, issues of law and justice are raised frequently. Choose three events from the play that highlight these issues, and explain their dramatic importance.

    2.       Consider how Catherine’s relationship with Eddie develops as the play progresses.

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