The play “A View from the Bridge” is set in the 1950’s, in Red Hook; an area in Brooklyn described by Alfieri as, “the slum that face the bay on the seaward side of Brooklyn Bridge . . . the gullet of New York”. The title suggests looking over from a high point watching events from a distance; the view of two places could represent Alfieri looking over at Manhattan which resembles the American culture and Red Hook which resembles Sicilian culture. This shows that Alfieri is seen as a link between the two cultures as he has a wider perspective.
This play was originally written as a Greek tragedy, however, unlike original Greek tragedies which consisted of one act, the play was written in two acts; this was to allow for a break for the audience and performers. Greek tragedies have a main character or protagonist; this character always has a fatal flaw which leads to his downfall. In this play Eddie is the protagonist and his fatal flaw is his over possessive love for Catherine. There is a catalyst which is a person who speeds up the downfall of the protagonist.
The catalyst in this play is the arrival of Rodolfo who Catherine falls in love with. A Greek tragedy contains the idea of pre-destiny, having no freewill in your life, as everything is inevitable. In Ancient Greece fate was very important, even to the extent where the Greeks personified it; three women known as the fates who spun, measured and cut each mans life. The play is about a family of Sicilian immigrants. Eddie Carbone is the head of the family and also the protagonist, he is married to Beatrice. Together they look after Catherine, Beatrice’s niece.
They also agree to allow Marco and Rodolfo to stay in their house after entering illegally into America from Sicily. Catherine and Rodolfo fall in love, which activates a chain of events that leads to Eddie’s downfall. A Greek Chorus is one more key component of a Greek tragedy. A Greek chorus is traditionally a group of people who would watch the action, comment on it and address the audience directly. They would foreshadow an event as if retelling an incident that has already transpired; however in play Alfieri is the Greek chorus and also a character in the play, a lawyer.
I think Arthur Miller chose Alfieri as the chorus as his occupation requires detachment of the cases he would undertake and this is an attribute that is shown in a chorus. Also he is the only educated and highly articulate character in the performance and the fact that he was born in Italy and lived in America a long time, helps him to distinguish both societies perspectives and the concept of “settling for half” is well acknowledged by him.
In the opening soliloquy of the play, Alfieri begins by introducing ideas about the play and what is going to happen throughout it; focusing on destiny and inevitability. One point which he talks about is how justice is taken seen differently by Americans and Sicilians. He says that in Sicily the law, “has not been a friendly idea” saying that in this area justice is taken into the inhabitants own hands.