A View From the Bridge Essay - Critical Essays

Critical Evaluation

Arthur Miller modeled A View from the Bridge after Greek tragedy: He made the lawyer, Alfieri, the leader of a dramatic chorus, mimicking the ancient Greek dramas of Sophocles and Euripides. As a result, it is Alfieri’s view that defines the action of the play and its unfolding. He remains the play’s narrator throughout, even as he relates scenes to which he was not a witness, and he warns the audience from the beginning that he is powerless to divert the action from its anticipated bloody course. In addition to the chorus, the play incorporates a classical Greek temporal structure: The narrative unfolds at an unusually rapid pace within the conventions of mid-twentieth century American drama. It incorporates few frills; instead, the action of the play is rapid and unrelenting.

Much has been written about the impact upon Miller of the anticommunist witch hunt led by Senator Joseph McCarthy and the hearings conducted by the House Committee on Un-American Activities (also known as HUAC). It is well known that Miller was responding to these events when he wrote The Crucible (pr., pb. 1953), which allegorized the hunt for communists in its tale of the witch trials conducted in Massachusetts in the seventeenth century. It could be argued, however, that A View from the Bridge was an even more important play for Miller in his quest to understand and respond to McCarthyism. In fact, Miller used the character of Eddie Carbone as a reference in his statements to HUAC when he was called to testify and name associates known to him to be communists. Unlike the central character of his drama, Miller did not point his finger at anyone, and he consequently remained on the high moral ground that Eddie Carbone forfeits by his actions in the play.

Miller notes in his writings about A View from the Bridge that he had been told a story about a longshoreman who turned two illegal Italian immigrants into the authorities and about the impact that act had on the surrounding community. He states that...

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