A view from the bridge is a dramatic, tragic play written by Arthur miller about a man called Eddie Carbone and ordinary Italian man who is faced with the challenge of sheltering his wife’s two immigrant cousins from Sicily (Marco and Rodolfo) who are looking for work. The main themes in this play are justice and law. Justice is a concept of moral rightness and the act of being just or fair whereas laws can be defined as rules and regulations set by the authorities. Justice can vary through the minds of different people, coming from different communities, as people are from different cultures and traditions, where what is considered 'right' or 'just' may be very different to that in other places. The play is set in red hook, Brooklyn during the 1950s and explores the Italian Sicilians traditional sense of justice; know as the Omerta, compared to the American constitutional form of justice.
1. The American laws and the community’s rules conflict throughout the play. The community abides to their Omerta. The Omerta forbids anyone to ‘snitch’ on each other however Eddie goes against this rule and follows the American law. He does this, as this is his only option left. As a result Eddie loses the respect of his friends and family. Eddie says to Marco during the final event “I want my name back,” suggesting when he decided to turn against the Omerta he was stripped of his identity within the community. This shows he values community more than the American laws as he proceeded to do anything in order to regain his name.
1. Earlier on Eddie has told the story of Vinnie Bolzano, precisely to show us his belief in loyalty to family and to teach Catherine a community value: to not inform the authority about immigrants. When Eddie and Beatrice mention to Catherine the tale of young Vinny Bolzano "the family has an uncle that they were hidin' in the house, and he snitched to the Immigration". A tense tone is set as they talk of the family's reaction "pulled him down the stairs", "spit on him in the street", "the whole neighborhood was “crying”. Their view of Vinny is one of disgust, as betrayal is the most dishonorable thing a person can commit. There is also irony in Eddie's doing exactly the same thing of which he has spoken with such horror making him a hypocrite. Eddie has warned Catherine “you can quicker get back a million dollars that was stole than a word that you gave away". Which shows how difficult it is to evade the eye of the community once such a terrible deed has been committed
1. As result of the law in New York the area has changed; “I no longer have to keep a pistol in my filing cabinet”. This is a good example of how New York has benefited and become a safer place due to the law. The transition from natural law to constitutional law seems difficult for Marco as he still behaves the way he would In Italy. The American law diminishes his opinion and beliefs. For example Marco says “in my country Eddie would be dead now”. This shows Marco’s anger towards what has been done to him and later on says “he degraded my brother my blood…where is the law for that?” it is clear that Marco Is disappointed by the way the American law is unable to aid him in a way he believes is just and evenhanded.
1. Alfieri, as a lawyer, is aware that the law, despite its limitations, must be encouraged. However, he is also aware of the inability of the law to dispense total justice. He feels powerless to intervene when a character in the play decides to find justice in his own way – outside the law. Eddie Carbone is a man who does not understand the reasons for the limitations of the law. There is a feeling that if people always abide by the law then they will have to "settle for half". Alfieri seems to be saying that the law is often incapable of satisfying everybody. Eddie tries to force Alfieri to give him his kind of justice. He believes that Rodolpho is going to marry Catherine in order to make him a legal immigrant.
He feels that this is unjust and that the law should be capable of making a case against Rodolpho. Alfieri is very rational and unemotional as he informs Eddie “no law has been broken”. The real injustice as far as Eddie is concerned is that Rodolpho, who, according to Eddie, is an effeminate "weird guy", is taking Catherine for his own and away from Eddie who in his opinion believes he’s a real man. Alfieri warns Eddie that if he betrays the brothers he will be breaching the code of Omerta and that they will turn against him. Here Alfieri is placing the law against natural justice – he is emphasizing that it would be unjust to betray the Italians even if Eddie is actually upholding the law by reporting them.
1. Conflict between justice and law is shown when “A phone booth begins to glow on the opposite side of the stage: a faint lonely blue”. Miller’s use of lighting is used to present Eddie’s alternative action if the law was to fail him. The phone booth is described as being “lonely blue” foreshadowing that once he informs the immigration bureau he will end up being lonely.
1. Arthur miller raises many important questions. For example what are the repercussions of searching for justice? This is shown through Eddie and how your life changes if you decided to side with your moral rather than the law as Eddie did. However the main question is it “better to settle for half”. Miller shows how natural law can lead to death and tragedy and how constitutional law can lead to being excommunicated. The quote "most of the time now we settle for half” explains how the law may never be able to deliver total and ultimate justice, therefore being unable to satisfy everybody. Marco and Eddie are a perfect example of characters that are not willing to settle for half even though others around them have.
1. To conclude miller helps us see the different forms of justice and how justice can differ in different communities. This is presented through each characters different view of justice. Miller also shows us how the law is unable to dispense total justice and to gain full justice you must take the law into your own hands. However taking the law into their own hands only lead to tragedy as seen through the conflict between Eddie and Marco. Miller shows how these men were too ruled by their emotions to be trusted to see what was right or wrong. Their delusion only resulted in death and tragedy.