“A View from the Bridge” presents two totally diverse cultures. Discuss In A View from the Bridge, we encounter many cultural conflicts between the Italians and the American-Italians. The economic situation in America in comparison to the economic situation in Italy is extremely strong. In Italy, as Rodolpho says, the economic situation is terrible ; terrible enough to make Marco leave his wife and children to find work elsewhere, as his children are starving and unhealthy. We are informed of this when Marco tells Eddie and Beatrice, ” The older one is sick in his chest. My wife -she feeds them from her own mouth. I tell you the truth, if I stay there, they will never grow up.”
Miller shows us that there are many similarities between Red Hook and Italy by using Alfieri’s speech at the beginning of the play. Alfieri’s constant reference to the Italian culture shows us that Red Hook is a district that is occupied by people that originate from Italy, and therefore has many Italian principles and ways of life. For instance, the belief of all Italians that betrayal of your family is the biggest sin is highlighted in Red Hook, not just by the tale of Vinny Bonzalo, but Eddie Carbone’s tale as well. In this respect, Red Hook is extremely similar to Italy and so the two cultures are not totally diverse.
An aspect in which the two cultures are totally different in is work. In America, there are many professionals, and people usually keep to one or two careers. Eddie Carbone is an example of this ; he has been a longshoreman for a long period of time.It is also obvious that education is easier to obtain in America than in Italy. In Italy, people try to work as soon as they can, whereas Eddie insists on Catherine completing her education before she takes a job. In America they are more professional, but in Italy, people are so desperate for work and money that they take any job that they can find. We are told this when Rodolpho says, “Sometimes they build a house, or if they fix the bridge – Marco is a mason and I bring him the cement. In harvest time we work in the fields…if there is work. Anything.”
In Red Hook, the Carbone household resembles the stereotypical Italian household. In theory, the father or husband is meant to provide the money, so that the wife can continue her household duties. The daughters help in the household when they are old enough, and the sons go to work and help provide more money. This is shown when, in the first scene of the play, Eddie simply sits down and smokes a cigar whilst the two females set the table and also clear it. This shows us that some American-Italians run a household the way an Italian would, and so a lot of Italian principles are obviously intact, and therefore the difference between the two cultures on this aspect is quite small. However, there are a few changes in the Carbone household when we join them in the play. Catherine has a job, which is quite strange according to Italian standards , as the females usually run the household and rarely work, so there is a small difference in the two cultures.
The American-Italians and the Italians hold many misconceptions about each other, as many other cultures do, and this is highlighted in A View from the Bridge. As an example, Eddie says to Marco, “I heard that they paint oranges to make them look orange.” Rodolpho also assumes that it is much easier to take a girl out in America than in Italy, and tells Eddie, “It’s not so free in Italy.” These comments show the stereotypical view that one culture has of the other and also displays ignorance regarding other cultures and ways of life. This highlights the fact that the two cultures believe that they are different from each other, but if a neutral audience compares them, then their beliefs and ways of life are not so varied. It is only the standard of life that is particularly different. The two cultures both have their similarities, and so they are not totally diverse cultures.
In Italy, justice is very important. Theoretically, it is also important in Red Hook, and this is shown when Alfieri tells us, “Many here were justly shot by unjust men.” Now, Alfieri says, in Red Hook they, ‘settle for half’. This is a huge difference in culture because in Italy people rarely rely on the police or lawyers, and instead prefer to deliver justice themselves. This is shown when Marco says, “In my country he would be dead now. He would not live this long.”
This introduces the idea of the Mafia, and the Italian code of vendetta, as well as the emphasis that Italian people put on revenge and loyalty. It is made extremely obvious to us that although justice is important to Italians, the idea of the written law is not as appealing. We are informed of this at the very beginning of the play, when Alfieri also says to us, “Behind that suspicious nod of theirs lies three thousand years of distrust. In Sicily, from where their fathers came, the law has not been a friendly idea since the Greeks were beaten.” There is a huge difference between the American-Italian and the Italian cultures on the subject of ethics and law, and widens the difference between the two cultures themselves.