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Themes, Motifs And Symbols Essay

1637 words - 7 pages

Themes, Motifs and Symbols

Arthur Miller was called to testify in front of the House Un-American
Activities Committee to name names of communist sympathizers in 1956,
the height of the McCarthy Era. Miller refused to do so and was
heralded by the arts community for his strength of conviction and
loyalty. In 1957, Miller was charged with contempt, a ruling later
reversed by the U.S. Court of Appeals. Miller, like Eddie Carbone, was
faced with the problem of choosing to be American or not, specifically
by naming names of people who were doing (what were considered then)
unlawful acts. Miller's own struggle with this issue is very present
in A View from the Bridge. Unlike Eddie Carbone, Miller chose to be
loyal to his fellow artists, but like Carbone, Miller went against the
cultural consensus at the time. Miller, in the play, has reversed the
scene—rather than the mass culture supporting the extrication of
possible communists, Miller chose to script a community that accepted
and protected unlawful people. The consequences and eventual
repercussions of naming names, for Eddie Carbone, are drastic. Miller
used this play to strongly condemn the McCarthy trials and those who
named the names of innocent artists.

Eddie looses control of his actions in the play. Driven and possessed
by incestuous love for his niece, Eddie resorts to desperate measures
to protect his identity and name in the community. Alfieri's
commentary often remarks on this theme. Alfieri seems constantly
amazed by Eddie's actions and his own reactions to the events of the
play. Alfieri sees his own irrational thinking, just as he recognizes
Eddie's irrational behavior. Irrationality is also how Alfieri defines
acting wholly. The human animal becomes irrational when he acts fully
on his instincts—just as Eddie does in the play. Alfieri proposes that
humans must act as a half, or restrain some of our instinctual needs
or wants for reason. Nonetheless, Alfieri still admires the
irrational—the unleashed human spirit that reacts as it will.

Allegiance to community law

There is great conflict between community and American law in the
play. The community abides by Sicilian-American customs protects
illegal immigrants within their homes, values respect and family, is
hard working and know the shipping culture, has strong associations
with names, believes in trust and wants revenge when a member has been
wronged. Some of these values, however, come in conflict with those of
the American system of justice. Eddie Carbone chooses to turn against
his community and abide by the state laws. He looses the respect of
his community and friends—the name and personal identity he treasures.
Eddie Carbone, with a stronger allegiance to the community, reverts
back to another custom of Sicilian-Americans: revenge. Not only is

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