‘A View from the Bridge’ is a play written by Arthur Miller. It was first procreated as a one-act play in verse in 1955: the amended and extended two-act play followed in 1956. Arthur Miller was born on October 17th, 1915 in New York City. His parents were both immigrants into the United States. He went to Michigan University in 1934 to study Economics and History. While at University Miller also pursued a course in playwriting and this now became his prime aspiration.
‘A View from the Bridge’ has its roots in the late 1940s when Miller became intrigued in the work and lives of the communities of dockworkers and longshoremen of New York’s Brooklyn Harbour. Miller found that the ‘waterfront was the Wild West, a place inhabited by people who were poorly paid, exploited by their bosses and many were recent arrivals, a near majority of them were Sicilian-Italian. They had arrived in the ‘Land of Opportunities’ hoping for the work, wealth and security that their home countries could not pledge. ‘A View from the Bridge’ is set, very precisely in Red hook, a slum that faces the bay on the seaward side of Brooklyn Bridge. It is delineated as the ‘gullet’ of New York ‘swallowing the tonnage’ of the world.
The play is narrated from the third person’s point-of-view by Alfieri who is the choric eminence in this play. The play is about Carbone family and how unpretentious Eddie Carbone, who is the principal character, gets galvanized by his loyalty to the promise, he made to his cousin on her deathbed and over-protectiveness towards his niece, leads him to put his own loyalty, honour and respect among his community in the past and lead the Immigration Bureau on his wives cousins, in order to break the marriage of one of the cousins with his niece. It is these themes: justice, loyalty, honour and respect and how knowledgeably Arthur Miller articulates and manifests this, by using sensational stage directions to the audience and the reader that indeed, makes this a truly astonishing play.
Paragraph 1. The lights rise in the apartment where Catherine and Beatrice are clearing the table. Catherine – “You know where they went?” Beatrice – “Where?” Catherine – “They went to Africa once. On a fishing boat.” Catherine – “It’s true, Eddie.” Eddie – “I didn’t say anything’.” Eddie at this point in the play is becoming very vigilant of the growing interconnection between Catherine and Rodolfo, which he strongly deprecates. Beatrice who contravenes Eddie’s claims against Rodolfo assents Catherine and Rodolfo’s growing affection and senses Eddie’s perturbation; so Catherine and Beatrice try to conciliate the situation by jokes. Beatrice – “You know, Marco, what I do not understand – there’s an ocean full of fish and you are all starving.”
Eddie – “They got to have boats, nets, you need money” Beatrice – “Yeah, but couldn’t they like fish from the beach? You see them down Coney Island” Marco – “Sardines.” Eddie – “Sure. How you gonna catch sardines on a hook?” Beatrice – “Oh, I didn’t know they are sardines. They are sardines!” Beatrice sensing Eddie’s annoyance tries her best to avert Eddie’s cognizance regarding Rodolfo and Catherine. She tries to keep the situation conciliated, however when Catherine joins in the endeavour to reconcile the situation she proves unfortunate. When emboldened by Beatrice’s sardine joke she tries to joke about oranges and lemons on a tree without sensing Eddie’s exasperation. This proves catastrophic as Eddie, who is now beginning to ease a bit, jokes that he heard they paint the oranges to make them look orange. Marco instantaneously interrupts and asks – Marco – “Paint?”
Eddie – “Yeah, I heard that they grow like green.” Marco – “No, in Italy the oranges are orange.” Rodolfo – “Lemons are green.” This hasty interruption from Rodolfo infuriates Eddie for a moment, as he thinks Rodolfo is questioning his wisdom. This brings out a very contentious reaction from Eddie who instantaneously denunciates Rodolfo saying – “I know lemons are green, for Christ’s sake, you see them in the store they’re green sometimes. I said oranges they paint; I did not say anything about lemons.” Although it does not bring out all the indignation Eddie has inside him for Rodolfo, it does give him a slight insight into how bad things are and how enraged Eddie is from Rodolfo. Eddie this time stays constrained, as he senses he is brandishing his revulsion for Rodolfo, but not for long. Beatrice who is sitting down again tries to shift attention by asking Marco if his wife is receiving the money all right.
Marco – “Oh, yes!” Beatrice – “She must be nice. She pretty? I bet heh?” Rodolfo – “Oh, he’s got a clever wife.” Eddie who now senses conciliation around him tries to antagonise Marco. He tries to take benefit of the situation that has evolved in the past few days by saying – Eddie – “I bet you there are plenty of surprises sometimes when those guys get back there, heh?” Marco – “Surprises?” Eddie – “I mean, you know – they count the kids and there’s a couple extra than when they left?”
The reaction from Marco is very communicable, he feels that Eddie is making an attempt to propound to him that his wife may become perfidious to him, when Marco is not around. This makes Marco astound but still not belligerent, because he cherishes Eddie’s beneficence of giving him and his brother’ Rodolfo a safe firmament from American Immigration Bureau, as they are both illegal Immigrant in the country. He tells Eddie that these surprises are a minority and it is very strict in their town and not so free.
This gives Eddie a chance to make a point he has been trying to make for a long time. Eddie who has always deprecated Rodolfo, since he got in this country, because he judges Rodolfo that he is effeminate, he is only here for fun and most consequentially that he is showing fictitious adoration for Catherine, so that he can marry her and then enjoy the privileges of an American Citizen. Eddie has also been trying to tell that he is a strict uncle but never got the chance, until now.