A View From the Bridge: A Play in Two Acts

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A View From the Bridge: A Play in Two Acts Page 8

by Arthur Miller

There is a pause of darkness before the lights rise, on the reception room of a prison. Marco is seated; Alfieri, Catherine, and Rodolpho standing.

  ALFIERI: I’m waiting, Marco, what do you say?

  RODOLPHO: Marco never hurt anybody.

  ALFIERI: I can bail you out until your hearing comes up. But I’m not going to do it, you understand me? Unless I have your promise. You’re an honorable man, I will believe your promise. Now what do you say?

  MARCO: In my country he would be dead now. He would not live this long.

  ALFIERI: All right, Rodolpho—you come with me now.

  RODOLPHO: No! Please, Mister. Marco—promise the man. Please, I want you to watch the wedding. How can I be married and you’re in here? Please, you’re not going to do anything; you know you’re not.

  Marco is silent.

  CATHERINE, kneeling left of Marco: Marco, don’t you understand? He can’t bail you out if you’re gonna do something bad. To hell with Eddie. Nobody is gonna talk to him again if he lives to a hundred. Everybody knows you spit in his face, that’s enough, isn’t it? Give me the satisfaction—I want you at the wedding. You got a wife and kids, Marco. You could be workin’ till the hearing comes up, instead of layin’ around here.

  MARCO, to Alfieri: I have no chance?

  ALFIERI crosses to behind Marco: No, Marco. You’re going back. The hearing is a formality, that’s all.

  MARCO: But him? There is a chance, eh?

  ALFIERI: When she marries him he can start to become an American. They permit that, if the wife is born here.

  MARCO, looking at Rodolpho: Well—we did something. He lays a palm on Rodolpho’s arm and Rodolpho covers it.

  RODOLPHO: Marco, tell the man.

  MARCO, pulling his hand away: What will I tell him? He knows such a promise is dishonorable.

  ALFIERI: To promise not to kill is not dishonorable.

  MARCO, looking at Alfieri: No?


  MARCO, gesturing with his head—this is a new idea: Then what is done with such a man?

  ALFIERI: Nothing. If he obeys the law, he lives. That’s all.

  MARCO, rises, turns to Alfieri: The law? All the law is not in a book.

  ALFIERI: Yes. In a book. There is no other law.

  MARCO, his anger rising: He degraded my brother. My blood. He robbed my children, he mocks my work. I work to come here, mister!

  ALFIERI: I know, Marco—

  MARCO: There is no law for that? Where is the law for that?

  ALFIERI: There is none.

  MARCO, shaking his head, sitting: I don’t understand this country.

  ALFIERI: Well? What is your answer? You have five or six weeks you could work. Or else you sit here. What do you say to me?

  MARCO lowers his eyes. It almost seems he is ashamed. All right.

  ALFIERI: You won’t touch him. This is your promise.

  Slight pause.

  MARCO: Maybe he wants to apologize to me.

  Marco is staring away. Alfieri takes one of his hands.

  ALFIERI: This is not God, Marco. You hear? Only God makes justice.

  MARCO: All right.

  ALFIERI, nodding, not with assurance: Good! Catherine, Rodolpho, Marco, let us go.

  Catherine kisses Rodolpho and Marco, then kisses Alfieri’s hand.

  CATHERINE: I’ll get Beatrice and meet you at the church. She leaves quickly.

  Marco rises. Rodolpho suddenly embraces him. Marco pats him on the back and Rodolpho exits after Catherine. Marco faces Alfieri.

  ALFIERI: Only God, Marco.

  Marco turns and walks out. Alfieri with a certain processional tread leaves the stage. The lights dim out.

  The lights rise in the apartment. Eddie is alone in the rocker, rocking back and forth in little surges. Pause. Now Beatrice emerges from a bedroom. She is in her best clothes, wearing a hat.

  BEATRICE, with fear, going to Eddie: I’ll be back in about an hour, Eddie. All right?

  EDDIE, quietly, almost inaudibly, as though drained: What, have I been talkin’ to myself?

  BEATRICE: Eddie, for God’s sake, it’s her wedding.

  EDDIE: Didn’t you hear what I told you? You walk out that door to that wedding you ain’t comin’ back here, Beatrice.

  BEATRICE: Why! What do you want?

  EDDIE: I want my respect. Didn’t you ever hear of that? From my wife?

  Catherine enters from bedroom.

  CATHERINE: It’s after three; we’re supposed to be there already, Beatrice. The priest won’t wait.

  BEATRICE: Eddie. It’s her wedding. There’ll be nobody there from her family. For my sister let me go. I’m goin’ for my sister.

  EDDIE, as though hurt: Look, I been arguin’ with you all day already, Beatrice, and I said what I’m gonna say. He’s gonna come here and apologize to me or nobody from this house is goin’ into that church today. Now if that’s more to you than I am, then go. But don’t come back. You be on my side or on their side, that’s all.

  CATHERINE, suddenly: Who the hell do you think you are?


  CATHERINE: You got no more right to tell nobody nothin‘! Nobody! The rest of your life, nobody!

  BEATRICE: Shut up, Katie! She turns Catherine around.

  CATHERINE: You’re gonna come with me!

  BEATRICE: I can’t Katie, I can’t ...

  CATHERINE: How can you listen to him? This rat!

  BEATRICE, shaking Catherine: Don’t you call him that!

  CATHERINE, clearing from Beatrice: What’re you scared of? He’s a rat! He belongs in the sewer!

  BEATRICE: Stop it!

  CATHERINE, weeping: He bites people when they sleep! He comes when nobody’s lookin’ and poisons decent people. In the garbage he belongs!

  Eddie seems about to pick up the table and fling it at her.

  BEATRICE: No, Eddie! Eddie! To Catherine: Then we all belong in the garbage. You, and me too. Don’t say that. Whatever happened we all done it, and don’t you ever forget it, Catherine. She goes to Catherine. Now go, go to your wedding, Katie, I’ll stay home. Go. God bless you, God bless your children.

  Enter Rodolpho.

  RODOLPHO: Eddie?

  EDDIE: Who said you could come in here? Get outa here!

  RODOLPHO: Marco is coming, Eddie. Pause. Beatrice raises her hands in terror. He’s praying in the church. You understand? Pause. Rodolpho advances into the room. Catherine, I think it is better we go. Come with me.

  CATHERINE: Eddie, go away, please.

  BEATRICE, quietly: Eddie. Let’s go someplace. Come. You and me. He has not moved. I don’t want you to be here when he comes. I’ll get your coat.

  EDDIE: Where? Where am I goin’? This is my house.

  BEATRICE, crying out: What’s the use of it! He’s crazy now, you know the way they get, what good is it! You got nothin’ against Marco, you always liked Marco!

  EDDIE: I got nothin’ against Marco? Which he called me a rat in front of the whole neighborhood? Which he said I killed his children! Where you been?

  RODOLPHO, quite suddenly, stepping up to Eddie: It is my fault, Eddie. Everything. I wish to apologize. It was wrong that I do not ask your permission. I kiss your hand. He reaches for Eddie’s hand, but Eddie snaps it away from him.

  BEATRICE: Eddie, he’s apologizing!

  RODOLPHO: I have made all our troubles. But you have insult me too. Maybe God understand why you did that to me. Maybe you did not mean to insult me at all—

  BEATRICE: Listen to him! Eddie, listen what he’s tellin’ you!

  RODOLPHO: I think, maybe when Marco comes, if we can tell him we are comrades now, and we have no more argument between us. Then maybe Marco will not—

  EDDIE: Now, listen—

  CATHERINE: Eddie, give him a chance!

  BEATRICE: What do you want! Eddie, what do you want!

  EDDIE: I want my name! He didn’t take my name; he’s only a punk. Marco’s got my name—to Rodolpho: and you can run tell him,
kid, that he’s gonna give it back to me in front of this neighborhood, or we have it out. Hoisting up his pants: Come on, where is he? Take me to him.

  BEATRICE: Eddie, listen—

  EDDIE: I heard enough! Come on, let’s go!

  BEATRICE: Only blood is good? He kissed your hand!

  EDDIE: What he does don’t mean nothin’ to nobody! To Rodolpho: Come on!

  BEATRICE, barring his way to the stairs: What’s gonna mean somethin’? Eddie, listen to me. Who could give you your name? Listen to me, I love you, I’m talkin’ to you, I love you; if Marco’ll kiss your hand outside, if he goes on his knees, what is he got to give you? That’s not what you want.

  EDDIE: Don’t bother me!

  BEATRICE: You want somethin’ else, Eddie, and you can never have her!

  CATHERINE, in horror: B.!

  EDDIE, shocked, horrified, his fist clenching: Beatrice!

  Marco appears outside, walking toward the door from a distant point.

  BEATRICE, crying out, weeping: The truth is not as bad as blood, Eddie! I’m tellin’ you the truth—tell her good-by forever!

  EDDIE, crying out in agony: That’s what you think of me—that I would have such a thought? His fists clench his head as though it will burst.

  MARCO, calling near the door outside: Eddie Carbone!

  Eddie swerves about; all stand transfixed for an instant. People appear outside.

  EDDIE, as though flinging his challenge: Yeah, Marco! Eddie Carbone. Eddie Carbone. Eddie Carbone. He goes up the stairs and emerges from the apartment. Rodolpho streaks up and out past him and runs to Marco.

  RODOLPHO: No, Marco, please! Eddie, please, he has children! You will kill a family!

  BEATRICE: Go in the house! Eddie, go in the house!

  EDDIE—he gradually comes to address the people: Maybe he come to apologize to me. Heh, Marco? For what you said about me in front of the neighborhood? He is incensing himself and little bits of laughter even escape him as his eyes are murderous and he cracks his knuckles in his hands with a strange sort of relaxation. He knows that ain’t right. To do like that? To a man? Which I put my roof over their head and my food in their mouth? Like in the Bible? Strangers I never seen in my whole life? To come out of the water and grab a girl for a passport? To go and take from your own family like from the stable—and never a word to me? And now accusations in the bargain! Directly to Marco: Wipin’ the neighborhood with my name like a dirty rag! I want my name, Marco. He is moving now, carefully, toward Marco. Now gimme my name and we go together to the wedding.

  BEATRICE and CATHERINE, keening: Eddie! Eddie, don’t! Eddie!

  EDDIE: No, Marco knows what’s right from wrong. Tell the people, Marco, tell them what a liar you are! He has his arms spread and Marco is spreading his. Come on, liar, you know what you done! He lunges for Marco as a great hushed shout goes up from the people.

  Marco strikes Eddie beside the neck.

  MARCO: Animal! You go on your knees to me!

  Eddie goes down with the blow and Marco starts to raise a foot to stomp him when Eddie springs a knife into his hand and Marco steps back. Louis rushes in toward Eddie.

  LOUIS: Eddie, for Christ’s sake!

  Eddie raises the knife and Louis halts and steps back.

  EDDIE: You lied about me, Marco. Now say it. Come on now, say it!

  MARCO: Anima-a-a-l!

  Eddie lunges with the knife. Marco grabs his arm, turning the blade inward and pressing it home as the women and Louis and Mike rush in and separate them, and Eddie, the knife still in his hand, falls to his knees before Marco. The two women support him for a moment, calling his name again and again.

  CATHERINE: Eddie I never meant to do nothing bad to you.

  EDDIE: Then why—Oh, B.!

  BEATRICE: Yes, yes!

  EDDIE: My B.!

  He dies in her arms, and Beatrice covers him with her body. Alfieri, who is in the crowd, turns out to the audience. The lights have gone down, leaving him in a glow, while behind him the dull prayers of the people and the keening of the women continue.

  ALFIERI: Most of the time now we settle for half and I like it better. But the truth is holy, and even as I know how wrong he was, and his death useless, I tremble, for I confess that something perversely pure calls to me from his memory—not purely good, but himself purely, for he allowed himself to be wholly known and for that I think I will love him more than all my sensible clients. And yet, it is better to settle for half, it must be! And so I mourn him—I admit it—with a certain ... alarm.





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