A View from The Bridge is a play written by Arthur Miller in the 1950's in the United of States of America. The original copy of the play as a book was released in 1955. The genre of the book is modern drama and it is set in Brooklyn, Manhattan in the 1940's -1960's. This was the time the number of immigrants from Italy immigrating to America drastically increased. Miller uses this issue as the base of his play and successfully discusses it through the characters of the play.
The characters in the play are Eddie Carbone, Beatrice Carbone, Catherine, Rodolfo, Marco and Alfieri. The play is about Eddie Carbone a married man who lives with his wife Beatrice and her niece Catherine who is roughly 17/18 yrs of age. Eddie loves Catherine which is not fatherly love, but loves her in a way which the society will not accept. The love for Catherine is his motive, but Eddie is not aware of this due to things preventing him to see this, this is his culture and the culture of the community and also the respect he has in society.
When Rodolfo and Marco who are illegal immigrants from Italy and also Beatrice's cousins come to America and take Shelter in Eddie's home, things start to go wrong, as Marco and Rodolfo act as catalysts towards Eddie and Beatrice's breaking marriage. Marco is here in America to work and send money back home to his wife and children and Rodolfo is here to get settled, get a green card.
Eddie is over protective of Catherine and he does not like her talking to boys, so when she flirts with Rodolfo Eddie gets annoyed and when things start to get serious between Catherine and Rodolfo, he goes to Alfieri a lawyer to see if he can stop the marriage and goes to Alfieri the second time to see if he can send them back to Italy. He goes home and calls the immigration bureau and when the immigration bureau arrives to arrest Marco and Rodolfo Marco spits in Eddies face, this is the climax.
Marco also blames him for killing his family. The theme of the play is: * Allegiance to community law- This is being loyal to the community law. The community tends to follow the Sicilian-American customs, shelters illegal immigrants with in their homes, values respect and family. The community law is a bit like moral law it is affected by your conscience, so if one who is close to heart has been wronged you will want to take revenge.
And this comes in conflict with the American system of justice. The motifs in the play are: * Betrayal- deceiving one of your own kind; like Eddie betrays Marco. * Community-Community is the most powerful aspect of the play, as it has law-like limits which you can or cannot cross; these are moral rules and standards for the family which controls what each member of the family does. The cultural difference between American and Italian Community causes the conflict in the play.
"All the laws are not in the book" is said by Marco to Alfieri after the immigration bureau comes to arrest them. He says this because he is frustrated and wants to kill Eddie for breaking his trust. This is something that this character believes in as he is from Italy where they have immense belief in brotherhood, which is helping one another, trusting and not betraying and deceiving each other. Alfieri's opening speech is extremely essential as it informs the viewers of the drama to key themes and also establishes main characters.
In this opening speech Alfieri significantly associates` the audience to the play by telling them" the attitudes of people towards lawyers and priests", this grabs the audience attention and makes them to listen to Alfieri with more care as they now know that it is his history that he is unfolding to them, they know this as he is a lawyer and by talking about the attitudes towards lawyers means he is telling something connected to him. Within this opening, Alfieri introduces the key notes of 'justice and law', and about the society that these Italian resided characters live in, known the "Red Hook…
gullet of New York". There are three different types of law that the audience are informed of, one being moral law (to do with the conscience), the other community law (traditional law) and the last being the written law, something everyone has to follow no matter where you come from as said by Alfieri "if he obeys the law, he lives" so you need to obey the law otherwise the punishment is clear. A significant theme in the play is law and order. Arthur Miller highlights the differences between Sicilian and American life, this is trust and justice. Red hook is near Brooklyn Bridge.
This bridge is a symbolic reference to the rites of passage, meaning journey, something that the protagonist has to take. The bridge is also a linkage of American and Italian cultures in the play; the bridge is a reminder of the 'American dream' and the opportunities available. Marco and Rodolfo move from a place where there is no work to a new place where there is meaning more opportunities. There is more to the title than just a view from the bridge as there is one person who sees the whole community below, some one who can outlook the whole situation.
This character is Alfieri. Travelling below the water means that you are hiding as no can see you so therefore you are an immigrant as you are illegal, but if you cross over the water then as every one can see you than you are legal. The role that Alfieri plays is of a lawyer in the play; he is a representative of the American legislature. "We're only thought of in connection with disasters". Alfieri says this in the prologue. This tells us straight away that the play is a tragedy and that something bad will happen in the play.
Alfieri is a character that also comments on actions of other characters whether it be Eddie of one the brothers. "He worked on the piers when there was work", "after they had eaten, the cousins came". In doing this, Alfieri performs a key role of the chorus, as he comments on actions and happenings within the play but can no one else can do that. Alfieri manipulates the audience's view on certain characters. He directs us in our opinions and reactions to characters, such as Eddie. Alfieri acts as engaged narrator. He is the bridge between the audience and the action on stage.
Because he can speak directly to the audience he has the power to guide and manipulate the audience in their responses to Eddie and other characters. Alfieri is involved with law as he also plays key role of a lawyer, but some viewers may see it as him as a priest as he give the right advice and characters in the play come and confess to him (Eddie) just like you would to a priest. As a lawyer he can only deal with the case if it can be solved by written law if not his hands are empty for you. Eddie confesses indirectly his inner world to Alfieri, by making criticisms of Rodolfo.
For example "he ain't right he's a blonde guy like platinum" (page 32/33). This shows that he doesn't like Rodolfo so makes excuses against him to make him look bad; this is shown on both his visits to Alfieri. The cause of his dislike towards other men is Catherine, as when she talks to other men Eddie doesn't like it, as he is too protective over her and makes criticisms against them. The core of Eddie's inner world is his motive and his denial makes him unaware of this and his fatal flaw's existence and this is Catherine.
There are two things that are stopping him to accept this and this is his culture, which is connected to moral law, so he knows what is wrong and his respect, now this s connected to the community and there law, so if he does something wrong, against the law of the community his will lose his respect. With in these visits Alfieri says "his eyes were like dark tunnels". So Alfieri can see his motive he knows that there is something wrong as they say that the eyes are a window to your soul and Eddie's motive is part of his soul.
Alfieri realizes this incest, but he is unable to do anything "sat there as powerless as I and watched it run its bloody course" (as a chorus character he can only observe and as a lawyer he can only deal with what's in the book) ;( page 4). This portrays the ideas in a Greek tragedy; the events within the play are unavoidable a lot like the events in 'A View from the Bridge'. From Alfieri's preliminary dialogue, what will happen is clear, and the point is made that man is powerless to stop it ' sat their as powerless as I, and watched it run its bloody course'.
This makes it obvious to the audience that the problems that Eddie and the other characters face are difficult. The main character in Greek tragedies is a good person, usually a king or someone important, who breaks the natural unwritten rules in some way. In 'A View from the Bridge', unlike a Greek tragedy, Eddie is not a king or anyone important, he is an average man, but he is a good human, we know this because he is accepted in his house and society, provided for, being a father-like figure to his wife's niece, Catherine, due to her mothers death.
A Greek tragedy is meant to make the audience empathise with the characters on stage so are meant to feel emotions for each and every character depending on what they do. 'A View from the Bridge' does this in many times; the audience continually reacts and empathizes with the characters. In a typical Greek Tragedy the theme of the play goes back to prehistoric traditions and this is to do with Justice, family and honour(respect), these themes are obvious in 'A View from the Bridge'.
Alfieri addresses the point of justice when he converses with Marco near the end 'this is not god, Marco. You hear? Only God makes justice. ' Family and also honour are incorporated right through the play, honour, this is clearly visible in the final act, where Eddie chooses to jeopardize his esteem by reporting Marco and Rodolfo to the immigration agency, his honour is crushed under his own feet when Marco spits in his face and insults him in the street, outside his house.
Eddie is aware of the fact that his life will not be worth living in this community without his honour, 'wiping the neighbourhood with my name like a dirty rag! I want my name, Marco. Now gimme back my name'. Eddie's feelings are exposed to the audience through the dialogue in personal discussions with Alfieri. This permits him to be himself and allows him not to suppress his sentiments, this way he makes his thoughts known.
In these discussions, Eddie decides what to do about Beatrice's cousins and also where Alfieri tells him to forget about it and tells him that if Catherine wants to get married he should "bless her and let her go". At the beginning the audience are told is that the catastrophe cannot be prevented no matter who you are, "another lawyer, quite differently dressed, heard the same complaint and sat there powerless as I, and watched it run its bloody course.
" This again is another Greek idea but of fate and destiny, which cannot be avoided or prevented. Although we know the outcome we cannot prevent it. In his speech he says how, "There are times when you want to ring an alarm, but nothing has happened", and he also mentions how he "could have finished the whole story that afternoon", which shows that he could have prevented the events, but his position as a reputable lawyer prohibited him from doing so.
This would have meant contravention of the client's confidentiality. There are many ways he could have stopped the calamity, for example by reporting Marco and Rodolfo to the immigration so that they were removed from the country, or he could have not granted Marco bail, which would have prevented Eddie's death. However this wouldn't fit in the Greek idea of fate and Eddie's destiny would have been altered, which is not right according to early Greek tragedies.