Everything Apart From Coloured Leg Warmers

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

mccarthyism essay

Does Arthur Miller fail in his indictment of American political policy that intervenes in the lives of citizens regarding their ideological choices? Base your answer on Eddie's betrayal of Rodolpho, considering Eddie a representative of the law.

Arthur miller’s play ‘A view from the bridge’ is a relatively short, 2 act drama set somewhere around the middle of the 20th century, at a time when the ideologies of rightist American senator Joseph McCarthy were most abundant. McCarthy’s somewhat extreme beliefs and policies (known as McCarthyism) led to several consequences in American society, one of which miller has tried to portray in his play. McCarthy was a staunch opposer of any form of communism or other leftist beliefs, and tried his very best to remove people with any such associations from society. He felt it part of a citizen’s patriotic duty to his country to ensure that no such ideas existed in the minds of the people, to an extent that betrayal of friends and family to the government was justified. The general attitude was to be suspicious of everyone, and as a result of this a large number of people were prosecuted based on mostly implausible evidence. In most instances, the only ‘evidence’ that the government had to go on was the word of a third party, who would rarely be investigated for his or her credibility. Miller believed that people were beginning to use patriotism as an excuse to betray others as a means of achieving their own personal, and for nothing to do with the country at all.
The main objective of miller in this play was to show the audience the negative impact McCarthyism was having on American society, and how it was absolutely eroding the general sense of loyalty to one another. I believe that Miller has generally failed in this objective. This could be due to, in part, the fact that this edition of the play is the revised edition. It was revised as the original version of the play was met with much criticism, being called devoid of human emotion. The introduction of a larger emotional and humane element into the play could possibly be what has caused the audience’ mind to be deviated diverted from what they are actually supposed to see and feel.
Eddie Ccarbone is supposed to be seen as a person who has committed a terrible crime (which he did) by betraying his two cousins, and is not meant to evoke sympathy be sympathised with at all. however, in the entire build up to the climax to the play, miller depicts Eddie as an emotionally torn and troubled character who cannot help how he feels and is doing his best to try to understand what he actually feels for his niece, Catherine. Eddie seems to be trying to only do his best for Catherine by being protective of her, but it is clear to the audience that his affection for her goes beyond being merely fatherly. This realisation alone is supposed to turn the audience against Eddie, as such emotions are highly improper, but what happens earlier and what follows later takes away this impression.
First impressions are very important in literature, as they are in real life, and the author must keep this in mind when he portrays his characters. Eddie is initially shown as a hard working, honest family man, albeit a bit over-protective. This actually creates a good impression of Eddie in the audience’ mind, and it is due to this that later Eddie is sympathised with. Later on in the play, after Rodolfo comes into the picture and Eddie begins to see the romantic involvement of Catherine and Rodolpho, Eddie begins to fall apart and show his true emotions to the rest of the characters in the play. Due to the good impression the reader or viewer already has, the audience feels that Eddie is forced to behave this way. These events are seen as intrusions to Eddie’s personal and family life.
Miller wanted to express his political belief and criticism through this play, but then why has he made is such an extensive story of love and heartbreak? The audience is so caught up in the way all the characters feel that they are blinded from seeing the broader, deeper theme of the play. Even after the play reaches its end, after the betrayal of marco and rodolpho by Eddie, the audience sees the play as a romantic, comic tragedy, not as a fictionalised, literary criticism of the present political mindset of American society. I feel that the original version of the play would have been more effective in getting the message across to the audience, though less effective as a drama.
If the play is seen in the light of McCarthyism, etc., the end seems fitting- betrayal of family members for personal means. The problem here is that it should be- betrayal of family members for personal means under the pretence of patriotism and political beliefs. Nowhere in the play is the reader able to see the political undercurrents of the play, as the psychological ones are too overwhelming for the reader to look at the play from a macro level. The betrayal by Eddie is perceived by the audience as a last resort. Eddie tried every other way he could think of to prevent Rrodolpho from marrying Catherine, and only after those failed did he decide to betray them to the authorities. Eddie is seen as a man of despair rather than as a man of treachery.
Ultimately, I feel that though the audience does feel a certain amount of resentment towards Eddie, that resentment is cancelled out by the sympathy they feel towards him. Miller should have brought the political theme more to surface, instead of immersing it below such an extensive seemingly emotion based storyline. Alternatively, he could have downplayed the emotional side of it, which is perhaps what he had initially done.

Friday, October 27, 2006

probably my favourite poem

As I walked out one evening,
Walking down Bristol Street,
The crowds upon the pavement
Were fields of harvest wheat.

And down by the brimming river
I heard a lover sing
Under an arch of the railway:
"Love has no ending.

"I'll love you, dear, I'll love you
Till China and Africa meet,
And the river jumps over the mountain
And the salmon sing in the street,

"I'll love you till the ocean
Is folded and hung up to dry
And the seven stars go squawking
Like geese about the sky.

"The years shall run like rabbits,
For in my arms I hold
The Flower of the Ages,
And the first love of the world."

But all the clocks in the city
Began to whirr and chime:
"O let not Time deceive you,
You cannot conquer Time.

"In the burrows of the Nightmare
Where Justice naked is,
Time watches from the shadow
And coughs when you would kiss.

"In headaches and in worry
Vaguely life leaks away,
And Time will have his fancy
To-morrow or to-day.

"Into many a green valley
Drifts the appalling snow;
Time breaks the threaded dances
And the diver's brilliant bow.

"O plunge your hands in water,
Plunge them in up to the wrist;
Stare, stare in the basin
And wonder what you've missed.

"The glacier knocks in the cupboard,
The desert sighs in the bed,
And the crack in the tea-cup opens
A lane to the land of the dead.

"Where the beggars raffle the banknotes
And the Giant is enchanting to Jack,
And the Lily-white Boy is a Roarer,
And Jill goes down on her back.

"O look, look in the mirror
O look in your distress:
Life remains a blessing
Although you cannot bless.

"O stand, stand at the window
As the tears scald and start;
You shall love your crooked neighbour
With your crooked heart."

It was late, late in the evening,
The lovers they were gone;
The clocks had ceased their chiming,
And the deep river ran on.

- W.H. Auden

Thursday, October 12, 2006

I am the only being whose doom

I am the only being whose doom
No tongue would ask no eye would mourn
I never caused a thought of gloom
A smile of joy since I was born

In secret pleasure - secret tears
This changeful life has slipped away
As friendless after eighteen years
As lone as on my natal day

There have been times I cannot hide
There have been times when this was drear
When my sad soul forgot its pride
And longed for one to love me here

But those were in the early glow
Of feelings since subdued by care
And they have died so long ago
I hardly now believe they were

First melted off the hope of youth
Then Fancy's rainbow fast withdrew
And then experience told me truth
In mortal bosoms never grew

'Twas grief enough to think mankind
All hollow servile insincere -
But worse to trust to my own mind
And find the same corruption there.

-Emily Brontë

Sunday, October 08, 2006

ten favourite albums

1. Coldplay A Rush of Blood to the Head
2. R.E.M. Automatic for the People
3. Bob Dylan Blood on the Tracks
4. Pavement Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain
5. Radiohead OK Computer
6. Kris Kristofferson The Austin Sessions
7. Pearl Jam Ten
8. Jethro Tull Songs from the Wood
9. Paul Simon Graceland
10. Bob Dylan Nashville Skyline
near misses: Sarah McLachlan Fumbling Towards Ecstasy, Bob Dylan Blonde On Blonde, Paul Simon Graceland, U2 The Joshua Tree

a slap in the eye

An eyeful of polished mirrors, brimming over
With unwanted reflections. Every time you look,
You see, and see and see and see. Your life,
It could be summarized in a pupil, a perverted
Sort of miniscule nutshell. Light in and again,
Light out with fluttered openings, all timed
To hit you, but with beautiful, marked out grace.

-I wrote this a long time ago, when I read 10D's english paper, and a line in one of the comprehension texts caught my attention..."We searched and searched, but no Rex. It was like a slap in the eye."