Explore the way Arthur Miller writes about justice in "A View From the Bridge". Write about the character's search for justice and the feeling that the law is sometimes inadequate. Consider the way that Miller makes use of places in the play. Arthur Miller is now regarded as one of the world's greatest dramatists. In his plays he explores the struggles of the ordinary man against authority and insurmountable odds.
Miller's own struggle therefore with this issue is present in 'A View from the Bridge' as he, like the characters in his plays (such as Eddie Carbone), was faced with the problem of choosing to be American or not, specifically by naming names of people who were doing (what were considered then) unlawful acts. Miller chose to write about a community that accepted and protected unlawful people. Miller spent two years in the shipyards of Brooklyn and was thus able to study the social background of the lives of the dockworkers in that area.
Many of the immigrants were of illegal legacy and were being exploited by the people who helped bring them to America and so consequently he further advanced his knowledge of the community spirit in the slum areas of New York and the beliefs and values of the Sicilian community as a whole. The law however, is everywhere, and this is the role played by Alfieri in 'A view from the Bridge' and much of his speaking takes the form of soliloquies. His description of the people within the play and narration at the beginning of each scene helps to distinguish the different sections of the play.
Alfieri is fairly unimportant in the action of the play in general, but he more importantly frames the play as a form of a modern story. The words justice and law are frequently heard in the play. Alfieri, the lawyer for all intents and purposes is the view from the bridge. He is the all-seeing, all-knowing, objective outsider looking in, correctly predicting the forthcoming doom. His office is always visible in the wings throughout the play, and by doing this; Miller is showing the audience that the law is always there, but in the sidelines sometimes powerless to stop impending tragedy.
Although Alfieri knows what will happen to Eddie, his function in the play makes him 'so powerless to stop it'. His function doesn't allow him to do more than observe. Alfieri establishes that justice and the law are going to be important in the play in his opening speech. He sets the story that he is going to tell us in the context of history, both ancient and modern. "In Sicily, from where their fathers came, the law has not been a friendly idea since the Greeks were beaten. I only came here when I was twenty-five.
In those days, Al Capone, the greatest Carthaginian of all, was learning his trade on these pavements, and Frankie Yale himself was cut precisely in half by a machine-gun on the corner of Union Street, two blocks away. " The fact that Alfieri goes on to state that lawyers in ancient times, as well as he in modern times, were unable to prevent a "complaint" running a "bloody course" causes us to question the power and influence of the law. In other words, although justice is very important, often the law as it stands is incapable of delivering justice.
Alfieri believes that it is best to "settle for half": it is better to rely on written law as far as possible and accept it even when you are only 'half' satisfied. The written law may not always act in favour of justice yet it is better to follow the law than to take it into your own hands. In the play we see that Eddie betrays Marco and Rodolpho, there is no law to punish Eddie so Marco takes the law into his own hands, the play ends with a fight to the death.
Alfieri reiterates his beliefs at the end of the play: "Most of the time now we settle for half and I like it better. " Alfieri values the law more than justice; he sees that when people go against the law to assert justice it can lead to conflict and death. The play encourages us to ask what is justice? What makes justice? Both Eddie and Marco have strong ideas of what is 'just' and are prepared to go to great lengths to achieve it.
The characters often mistake their own desires for justice, they fail to look for a higher principle of justice separate from their own feelings, and this is what leads to conflict. There are numerous instances in the play when justice and the law feature: The story of Vinny Bolzano is an example of how someone obeying the law (as Vinny technically was when he informed on his uncle) is actually doing something unjust. However then Eddie tells his family of the treatment Vinny received from his family, we feel that this too is unjust.
This sets the theme of law in the play, and shows us that in the battle between law and justice, there are no winners, and sometimes, as Alfieri said, it is better to settle for half. It is ironic that Eddie appears so horrified and this story of someone betraying one of their own, when at the end this is exactly what he does. Alfieri tries to warn Eddie about his relationship with Catherine and argues with him to allow her to marry Rodolpho. When the law is wrong it's because it's unnatural, but in this case it is natural and a river will drown you if you buck it now.
He is suggesting that it is Eddie's feelings for Catherine that are 'unnatural'. We see that Eddie's yearning for Catherine changes his attitude towards his wife. She complains that he is not treating her like a loving husband should, and that he has gone off her in bed. She knows exactly that Catherine is the reason for this sudden change in Eddie's attitude towards her, but does not appear to harbour any ill feelings towards Catherine, even though she is unwittingly ruining Beatrice's relationship with Eddie.