A View From the Bridge

by Arthur Miller

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Student Question

How does the Italian background of Marco and Rodolpho affect their identity in A View From the Bridge?

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In Arthur Miller's play A View from the Bridge, Marco and Rodolpho are as Italian as they come, and their Italian heritage is a major part of their pride, their hard-working nature, and their value of tradition.

Marco and Rodolpho have just come from Italy. In fact, they are illegal immigrants as they settle in with their cousin Beatrice, her husband, Eddie, and Eddie's niece Catherine. Marco takes great pride in being Italian, but he is also a realist, and he knows that a poor family cannot survive very long in Italy. That's why he has come to America; he wants to earn money to send home to his wife and children who are nearly starving and constantly ill. Marco will work as hard as he has to in order to do this, and he works very hard indeed.

Marco is also a proud man in that when he is insulted, he will take his revenge. He does this at the end of the play when Eddie attacks him. Eddie has already turned Marco and Rodolpho in to Immigration, and this means that Marco's family is in jeopardy once again, having lost his income. Marco cannot stomach this, and his temper surfaces. He comes after Eddie, preserving the tradition of honor, and when Eddie comes at him with a knife, he is strong enough to turn the knife back on Eddie.

Rodolpho is quite different from his brother but no less Italian. Rodolpho's character expresses the artistic side of the Italian heritage and tradition. He loves to sing and dance and tell jokes. People love him for that. Yet he works hard, too, and takes pride in the fact that he is now in America. Unlike Marco, though, Rodolpho wants to stay, and he is willing to do what he must to earn that right.

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