How is Conflict Presented in the Play 'A View from the Bridge' by Arthur Miller

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Conflict is a clashing strain. Some find conflict with outsiders, where uprooting their existence, would mean everything. Some find dissent within themselves, desires, hidden deep in the fabric of their entity, holding power to tear their lives away. Some find discord with beloved ones, squabbling over ‘love’, or ‘safety’, though, vaporizing it quickly, as if it were like, a volatile liquid. But every liquid leaves its stain. Every conflict leaves its mark. It builds up, brick by brick, finally, letting loose. In Arthur Miller’s, A View from the Bridge, these disagreements act as fuel, that encompass our tragic hero, Eddie Carbone, who deals with external/internal conflicts, resulting as consequences of absurd decisions and mindsets. Eddie is portrayed as igniting strife, defying societal beliefs, bearing lustful thoughts, switching between communal and state laws/cultures, all while holding, stereotypical views. Miller, carefully, crafts the play, manipulating conflict, to gradually deepen the plot, and channel it as a final force, against Eddie, while presenting themes and motifs, throughout.

Eddie’s inner conflict is displayed, vide his inability, in accepting his forbidden desires, for Catherine. Eddie exclaims that he’s troubled, by Catherine “walkin' wavy!” Eddie can’t welcome his affection, for Catherine, to an extent, where he’s unable to, clearly, express his dislike, of her somewhat, flirtatious persona. The adjective “wavy”, not only implies that, Catherine is physically, evoking a sense of sexuality, but also indicates, she is under the intoxication of her, own, increasing sensuality, from her progression into adulthood, magnifying her desirability, thus igniting Eddie’s inner conflict. Conflict, germinates, with Eddie’s difficulty, accepting Catherine’s escalating beauty, leading to a partially, overt conflict between his outer and inner self. The exclamation mark, reveals Eddie’s strong emotions, of concern and possessiveness, concluding Eddie’s inner conflict/hamartia as his inappropriate desires and abstinence. The audience, when experiencing Eddie’s safeguarding stance towards Catherine, may relate, but upon realizing his underlying feelings, they could be horrified and perplexed. Miller highlights the intricacies of lust’s true nature, how it evokes, hunger of intimate contact, that devoid one’s perception. Conflict within Eddie is, exhibited, when Alfieri notices “a passion … moved into his body … like a stranger”. The noun “passion” refers to Eddie’s lust. The simile compares “passion”, to the noun “stranger”, hinting on Eddie, denying his incestuous thoughts. His impermissible ‘love’ is suppressed and is unknown, to his conscious being. This not only suggests, his mind and body are physically altered, as of his confused and conflicted state, but that it also, influences him mentally, where an active battle seems to be occurring, increasing the audience’s concentration, due to Eddie’s intensified feelings. Miller presents Eddie, in a state of oblivion, to emphasis flaws hidden within people, that arise in times of tension and dispute.

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Conflict is presented, within Eddie, when his conscience is withering away, leading to psychological turmoil. When Eddie first approaches Alfieri, his face is dark, and his “eyes … like tunnels”. The plural noun “eyes” connotes radiance and clarity. The simile contrasts his eyes, also regarded, as gateways or visions into one’s soul, to tunnels, passages associated with darkness, hollowness or journeys, here being, Eddie’s transformation from an authoritative figure, common in patriarchal societies, to a doubtful, disoriented character, leaving him emotionally broken. This indicates Eddie’s physical exhaustion, suggesting his innermost self is encompassed with gloom, contradicting the conventional symbolism of “eyes”, thus, insinuating a metaphysical struggle, within Eddie, between dark and light/good and evil. Clashes between his moral conscience and negative emotions, including anger and ardour, leads to Eddie’s mental disorder and emptiness, as of his obsession with his niece. This creates an aura of abnormality, presenting him as an occult, incomprehensible creature, instilling dread and unease in the audience, thus foreshadowing forthcoming sins. When Eddie’s shown to be “[unconsciously twisting]” a [“newspaper into a tight roll]” his mental stability is questioned. The stage direction indicates, Eddie’s inability to prevent his mental strain from surfacing, for his vicious impulses crave physical expressions, illuminating the difficulty of restraining urges. Eddie isn’t, just deforming the paper, but, since the “newspaper” links to Rodolpho’s song, Paper Doll, it symbolises Rodolpho’s feminine qualities, suggesting within Eddie’s imagination, it’s Rodolpho who he’s metaphorically, strangling, as their stereotypical society, deem men assertive. Eddie’s distaste of Rodolpho creates conflict, as he cannot physically injure Rodolpho. The verb “twisting” and adjective “tight” share violent connotations, implying rising tension and, sprouting fear, attributable to Eddie’s lack of control. The adverb “unconsciously”, signifies Eddie’s unawareness of his menacing behavior, evincing his, diminishing mental condition. Miller presents Eddie’s behavior as, becoming unpredictable, where he may, physically, hurt Rodolpho, casting anxiousness throughout the audience.

Conflict is presented, between Eddie and Beatrice, when Beatrice divulges sensitive information, and is portrayed as veracious and outspoken. Beatrice, unable to withstand, poses the question, “when (will I) be a wife again, Eddie?”. The proper noun “Eddie”, focuses the audiences’ attention on him, implying a crucial revelation/conversation is upcoming. The noun “wife” connotes both marital and sexual relation. Beatrice’s question, implies, Eddie is disregarding her, devoting more endearment on Catherine, causing discord and inducing sympathy in the audience. The interrogative statement, raises doubts of conventionalism, for earlier, men held ascendancy and power, but here, Eddie is forthrightly questioned by Beatrice, revealing her desperation, and portraying conflict between them, consequently shocking the audience. Beatrice’s extent, discloses the veracity of her deteriorating relationship, signifying the great lengths, people go, defying traditional expectations, when dishonored or despaired. Miller’s euphemism, especially of the noun “wife”, reveals his intentions to leave the exact interpretations, at the hands of the audience. Beatrice, understanding Eddie’s lecherous desires, helps him realize he “want(s) somethin’ else” and repudiates him, stating, “you can never have her!”. In this imperative statement, the use of interpersonal language, stresses Beatrice’s confidence and certainty, in detaching Eddie from his immoral path, creating conflict through her point-blank accusation. Anagnorisis is displayed as Eddie’s wrongful sentiments towards Catherine, are discerned by him. Beatrice’s blunt confrontation, forcing Eddie to face his feelings, creates a problematic situation between them, since she’s first to acknowledge this, relatively, delicate subject. Her outburst lets the audience commiserate with Beatrice, holding animosity towards Eddie. The exclamatory statement, highlights the immensity of Beatrice’s disturbance and distress, deepening the conflict. This develops Beatrice’s character, presenting her as self-standing and vociferous, because of her catharsis, generating a turning point, where Eddie’s underlying feeling are brought to Eddie’s consciousness.

Conflict is depicted through physical actions, when Eddie’s reputation is tarnished and he’s publicly defamed. To defuse Marco’s anger, Catherine pacifies him with the knowledge, that “everybody knows” he “spit” in Eddie’s face. The noun “spit”, connotes dishonor and shame, also symbolizing revulsion and revolt, thus, representing a raw and heavy image of primeval justice and rage, further, indicating, brewing conflict, and a pivotal point in the plot, frightening the audience with possibilities of future, vengeful acts. The pronoun “everybody” implies, Eddie’s humiliation was observed, further implying that, in Red Hook, if a man’s mortification was prominently displayed, the knowledge of his wrongdoings leaves his reputation in tatters, kindling wrath and fury, within Eddie’s pugnacious self. Peripeteia is displayed, between Eddie and Marco, for previously, Marco was under Eddie’s guidance, but now, has abashed Eddie, developing discord, and foreshadowing destruction, because of the search for retribution. Earlier, Vinny Bolzano snitched on his uncle, arising repugnance, thus, presenting the mirroring of events, hinting towards catastrophe. Marco spitting on Eddie’s face, relates to the tight and honorable system of justice, in Red Hook, appalling the audience with Eddie’s insensitivity. In the climax, Marco kills Eddie as he turns the blade inward, “[pressing it home]”. This evokes tragic irony, as Eddie’s own knife, killed him. The scene’s antagonism and hostility, captures the audience’s attention, preparing for a dramatic conclusion, by heightening their emotions, as the final strands of conflict build-up. The noun “home” implies, from where the conflict originated, it has ended there too, since Eddie’s hamartia initiated problems. Therefore, Marco hasn’t only annihilated Eddie, but, commenced a peaceful beginning, and an end, to an age of conflict, bringing forth a powerful image of classical poignancy and pathos. Miller allows the audience, to interpret this ‘depiction’ of Eddie’s death freely, presenting its tragedy, but inevitability. The audience could be satisfied, for they viewed Eddie’s thoughts of incest, ego and betrayal, bitterly, linking to loyalty, communal laws and protection, integrated within families, of Red Hook, Sicily.

Every conflict leaves its mark. It reaches heights, presenting an authentic society, in the 1950s America. Conflict poisons minds, with apprehension and unease, granting revelations and catharsis, the ability to quench this thirst. Eddie’s inner conflict, unquestionably, leads to disputes, and his downfall, acting as a harbinger of his death. Miller depicts ruinous aspects and traits, involving fantasies or psyches. Eddie, in this case, is an amalgamation of good and evil, two extremes, portraying the real nature of humanity. Conflict, aids the connection between 1950s America and modern societies, pushing the reflection of one’s, own, shortcoming.

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