A View From the Bridge

by Arthur Miller

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How does Arthur Miller present the ideas of manliness, hostility and aggression in Act One of A View from the Bridge?

Marco quietly and politely exhibits a more traditional masculinity. Eddie's masculinity is of a type that is most readily presented in the modern world, though it has its roots in many older societies. He acts as if he were the head of a household, commanding his wife and daughters to do as he says. It seems that Eddie takes his responsibility as head of the household much too seriously, however. He is unable to see Rodolpho for who he really is – a decent man who does not deserve the harsh treatment Eddie gives him. Instead, Eddie sees Rodolpho as an intruder, someone who has come to steal his family's love away from him.

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Eddie, Marco and Rodolpho each exhibit distinctly different types of masculinity in this play. 

Eddie is presented as an emotional (over-emotional perhaps) patriarch. He makes commands in his household, which he expects to be obeyed. He proclaims his views openly and acts protectively (over-protectively). 

Rodolpho is less traditionally masculine and seemingly unconcerned with appearances regarding his ruggedness or lack thereof. He sings, sews and cooks. His masculinity is of a foreign type. This difference causes some problems for Rodolpho. 

[Rodolpho] has difficulties at work with the other longshoremen because he is too effeminate...

 

Marco's silence, his warning demonstration of strength, and his code of behavior present him as an Old World figure. The silent and polite Marco shows himself to be prepared to defend his family if that should be necessary.

Marco then proceeds not only to lift the chair but also to raise it over his head, revealing himself as a hidden threat.

His masculinity is of an almost ancient type. 

Though Eddie is the only truly hostile character in the play in his treatment of Rodolpho and Catherine, it is Marco who best shows the idea of aggression. Eddie is mostly content with threats and violent language, whereas Marco is beholden to a code that binds him to violent action when crossed. This trait is, however, latent in the first act of the play. 

Eddie's hostility toward Rodolpho is demonstrated repeatedly in his discussions with Beatrice and Catherine, as well as his discussions with Alfieri. Though Eddie has agreed to house Beatrice's cousins, he is thoroughly unable to be hospitable because of his jealous feelings for Catherine.

 

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