“A view from the bridge”, has been constructed in the style of Greek tragedy. The first incomplete draft was called an ‘Italian tragedy’. Original Greek tragedy would be one act long and would take place in a single setting. Miller’s play differs from the original Greek tragedy because it took place over two months and is not in one setting, as it moves from Carbone household, to the streets and even to Alfeiri’s office.
A component of Greek tragedy is a tragic hero, or a protagonist, who is usually of high status and who is between the extremes of goodness and badness, and must come to grief on account of self error. In this play our tragic hero is Eddie Carbone. Eddie is a simple, straightforward man who works and lives a normal life. He is very humorous, kind. He is also generous in anticipating the arrival of his wife’s cousins who have entered America illegally.
He is over protective of his niece Catherine, in her increasing maturity and physical attraction. It is this over protectiveness that keeps Catherine away from her independence as Eddie says, “you are a baby”, he insists though she is almost eighteen; “I guess I didn’t figure on one thing that you would ever grow up”. Due to his possessiveness and sexual desire which he doesn’t understand, he loses his life at the end of the play in a fight with Marco. This makes him our tragic hero.
To enable the play to flow continuously, Miller uses the role of the Chorus. The chorus is the person, or a character in the play, whose function is to deliver the prologue and the epilogue, comment on the play, establish norms of behaviour, tell the audience what they should think and even what is going to happen next. A chorus remains emotionally detached from what is happening in the play, their role is to inform the audience.
In his role of the chorus Alfieri is able to express the following qualities. Alfieri is the one who opens the play by setting the moods and atmosphere for what is going to happen next, and he is one closing the play when he gives his own remarks about Eddie, “Who allowed himself to be wholly known”. He switches his role from the chorus to the character. This is evident in another part of the play when Eddie comes to him to talk about Rodolfo and Alfieri says to him, “He has not done any crime…..you should let nature take its path”. Alfieri advises Eddie that Catherine has grown up and he should let Rodolfo marry her, instead Eddie betrays the brothers by phoning the immigration bureau, and also unintentionally betraying his neighbours who were also harbouring illegal immigrants.
In order to provide the context of the play, Miller uses Alfeiri as the chorus. From the opening speech of Alfieri we learn about the place where the play was set. “. He provides the audience with the brief history of the area of Red Hook, where Eddie lives and also where the crime was set. He says the Sicilian community has their own laws and justices. He says Red Hook is, “The gullet of New York swallowing the tonnage of the world”, which suggests that the Brooklyn area is the entry point of all the illegal immigrants. He tells us about the justice and law of the land, as being very important but no one actually acts on them, instead they live by the rules and laws that they have created themselves, as “law has not been a friendly idea”.
He forewarns the audience that terrible things will happen when he talks about a “bloody course” to events which are going to be revealed. He introduces the audience to what is going to happen in the play, when he talks about “every few years there is still a case”, he means we are going to see a tragedy unfold. He tells us that Romans such as “Al Capone, Frank Yale” lived in Red Hook, which suggest crime will be involved in the play. The Italian/Sicilian element in the play shows that Eddie and people around him are not sophisticated Americans; they are immigrants, bringing with them the primitive way of life of Calabria in their virtues as well as brutal lawlessness.
Alfieri as a character has been given the role of a lawyer. He speaks a plain direct language to be expected of a lawyer. Although his job is very “unromantic” and less well paid because of all the poverty in the area, he still wants to help his own people because he feels sorry for them. Alfieri introduces Eddie Carbone to the audience, “This one’s name was Eddie Carbone”, which suggests that the story that he is going to tell us is from the past or may have already taken place. Eddie is going to be our protagonist. Alfieri introduces us to play and the scene.
From the last part of Alfieri’s first speech we learn that we will witness a murder. When “Alfeiri: walks into darkness”, we know the play has started and we will see every thing that Alfeiri has talked of earlier in his speech. In the first few minutes there is conversation about family honour in Eddie’s household, as he does not want his niece, Catherine to wear short skirts with “clacking high heels”. Her “wavy” walk, her chat with Louis and her plan to get a job, shows his concerns by saying people will not respect her. This also shows that he is caring for her and he also warns her about what troubles she can face when “heads are turn’in like windmills”.
Miller discuses several themes in the play, love being the first one. Most of the characters actions are influenced by love of one type or another. Catherine has a great capacity of love for Eddie as a daughter, and there is absolutely no doubt about her love for Rodolfo. Her love for Rodolfo starts when he and his brother Marco come from Italy. The love grows when Rodolfo and Catherine start to dance, and another incident which makes their love grows is when Rodolfo makes Catherine a new dress.
The opening section of act II makes clear the emotions between Rodolfo and Catherine. They take more than a cousinly interest in one another. They love each other, and are being honest and truthful when they are discussing their future life together. They discuss their feelings and fear, because they love and trust each other. Catherine is so much involved in her relationship with Rodolfo that she even wants to go to Italy and live there forever. She wants to go from Brooklyn because she is afraid of Eddie. Rodolfo is building up her confidence to get rid of the fear of Eddie that she has within herself, when Rodolfo says,