Knowing a bit about Miller helps us understand the context of the play - migration from Italy to the US during the 1950s. Miller was born in New York but later moved to Brooklyn, where AVFTB is set. When he was just starting out as a journalist and a writer, Miller befriended many Italians when he worked for two years in the Brooklyn shipyards. He heard a story of men coming over to work illegally and being betrayed. This story inspired him to write A View from the Bridge in 1955. A lot of Miller&#x2019;s work includes political and moral issues and also ideas from Greek tragedy. A reminder if you don&#x2019;t remember what a greek tragedy is - a greek tragedy features an individual who basically becomes tangled in a terrible fate - a chorus comments on what happens. Arthur Miller also is interested in how personal relationships determine how people live their lives and what justice means to them.
Italy was a very poor country in the 1955s. Unemployment rate was high and with little hope, many people wanted to migrate to America to try their luck. This is known as the American Dream. This led to many illegal immigrations, just like Marco and Rodolpho.
As they are illegal immigrants, their entrance to America is a difficult one and they constantly face the threat of being discovered. They depend on Eddie and his family not to tell on them. Eddie even tells Beatrice and Catherine the story of Vinny Bolzano, who betrayed his own uncle and lost his honour, suffering terrible consequences.
But why is this so important?
At that time in Italy, a betrayal would have been seen as a crime. This is significant, because Eddie meets Alfieri three times in the play, but by the second meeting, Eddie betrays the cousins to the immigration bureau. This then leads to a series of events.
The setting and context of the play influences the behaviour of the characters because of the social expectations at the time.
Rodolpho is very untraditional, he&#x2019;s blond, wants to make his fortune, and buy a motorcycle in America. He buys a record with his first pay, whereas men would generally send money home to their family. His appearance and that fact that he sings suggests he isn&#x2019;t very masculine - Eddie says &#x201C;the guy ain&#x2019;t right!&#x201D;. His dislike of Rodolpho leads to him later kissing Catherine, trying to prove that Rodolpho is homosexual.
Marco is a contrast to Rodolpho. Unlike his brother, he is traditional and masculine - he is concentrated on making money for his family back in Italy.
Beatrice fits the ideal role of a devoted wife and homemaker. She stays loyal to Eddie throughout the whole play and raises the family. Her role within the family is very traditional, which provides a contrast to Catherine who represents the new and independent generation.
Now Catherine represents a new generation. At that time, young people in America were experiencing more freedom and independence. We can see this in Catherine when she starts wearing high heels - there was a also a change of clothing styles for young people. Clothes became more tailored as opposed to before when people wore more reserved clothing. Catherine gets a job - a symbol that she is becoming more independent and experiencing more freedom.
The play is like a Greek drama - action takes place in one location - either the Carbone&#x2019;s appartment or outside of it.
The community of Redhook full of poverty and distrust means that a lot of conflict is stirred up - this ultimately leads to Eddie&#x2019;s death. The context of &#x2018;A View from the Bridge&#x2019; all ties in with the significant themes of the play - justice, law, and loyalty. Both the context and Alfieri encourages the audience to question exactly what is justice?
Context A VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE
• Born in New York > Brooklyn
• Brooklyn shipyards, befriended
• Realistic characters and events
• Political and moral issues
• Greek tragedy
• Relationships and justice
Redhook/Italy and immigration
• Italy in the 1955s
• The American Dream to Marco and Rodolpho, America represents work and
is a place of opportunity
• Marco and Rodolpho - difﬁcult immigration?
• Alﬁeri "This is the slum that faces the bay on the seaward side of Brooklyn
• “Like Vinny Bolzano, remember Vinny?”
• Sicilian code of honour
• Untraditional, blond, a singer
• “I want to be an American. And
then I want to go back to Italy when
I am rich, and I will buy a
• Eddie: “The guy ain’t right!”
• Both Rodolpho and Catherine
represent the new generation with
their relationship and eventual
marriage. Rodolpho’s desire for
freedom and to work to become
rich contrasts Eddie’s values of
hard work in the neighbourhood.
• Traditional & masculine
• “My wife - I want to send right
away maybe twenty dollars”
• Devoted wife and homemaker
• Raises a family, stays loyal to Eddie,
even until the very end even she knows
that Eddie has crossed the boundaries
of fatherly love towards Catherine.
• “When am I gonna be a wife again,
• “Now go to your wedding, Katie, I’ll
stay home. Go. God bless you, God
bless your children.”
• Her role within the family is very
traditional, which provides a contrast to
Catherine who represents the new and
• New generation - more freedom
• Eddie: “I don’t like the looks they’re
givin’ you in the candy store.”
• Eddie: “What’s the high heels for,
• Catherine, with Beatrice’s help and
encouragement, eventually breaks
away from Eddie’s control. This can
be seen when she and Rodolpho
want to get married.
To sum up...
• Greek drama
• Redhook - poverty, secrecy, distrust. The characters’ values of honour and
justice are based on where they are from - the community of Redhook and
the honour codes of Italy.
• Arthur Miller uses places to represent and portray the people and actions -
eg. Marco is compelled to revenge upon Eddie which ultimately leads to
Eddie being killed.
• Justice, law and loyalty
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