In “a View from the Bridge” Arthur Miller depicts the search for the American dream in the early 1900’s. Miller use of a narrator and precise stage directions give the play an underlying sense of tension from the very beginning. The use of power struggles between characters also gives the audience a sense of dread and the ability to predict the climax of the play. The social surroundings of the characters are also sources of tension.
The theme of justice is used to focus on specific characters and to add a sense of foreboding what they will do. It leaves the audience guessing as to what might happen and what people are feeling. The pressures of others views and the fear of being deported or found out gives the play a sense that the characters are always tense. This is shown on stage with dramatic spotlight and facial expressions.
The original audience of “a View from the Bridge” would have had experience with Immigrants or would have heard stories and rumours of people finding out or snitching on friends and family. This draws the audience in and makes them feel more in touch with what the characters are feeling. We know there were many ending to the play. One example is Catherine kills Eddie. Miller refers to this in his autobiography, it was based on a true story, which was expressed by a member of the audience from a performance in 1965. This ending has lots of tension and would have added to the play, although it would have taken away the innocence of Catherine. One of the main themes of the play, is Catherine’s and it goes against Catherine’s character. It also releases the issue of revenge only by Marco it drains Marco’s anger and makes him seem fragile, as Catherine killed Eddie not Marco.
The Audience’s contact with the play was crucial as during the time the audience would be experienced the same kind of ‘snitching’. Senator McCarthy was a man who was wrongly naming and shaming alleged communists. This meant they were outcast from family and friends, even though all accusations were false. We see a twist to this as Eddie tells the immigration office of Marco and Rodolpho, to get a Catherine Back. This would have happened during the McCarthy period, people would name others as communists to get something they want like their job.
There were also other changes Miller made to the play before he considered it finished. His first version was written in verse. The example of a verse opening and closing speech gave the play less mystery. ‘green smell of the sea’ and ‘tide is right’ show how the verse speeches flow and put the audience into a sense that is calm, meaning they lose the tension of the play. The opening verse speech gave a substantial amount of historical background that Miller still retained in the final version but he kept it relevant to the darkness of the play. The prose opening is also more accessible to the audience, you flow into the heart of the story.
The closing speech in verse similarly lacked the troubling effect needed to keep the audience thinking. It was calmer, and left little for the audience to contemplate. ” Leading back towards some ancestral beach”. The prose is continuous in the audiences’ mind. You are troubled by the play and leave us thinking of the feelings and thoughts of the characters. This ongoing thought brings us back to the experiences of the audience.
The character of Alfieri is the audience’s connection to the characters. He adds tension by hinting what will happen later on in the play. It is like one of the audience who has been through something, telling us the story. Alfieri knows the conclusion and can give hints to the audience without giving too much away. “I was powerless to stop it… ‘Pray for him…” This line is from a speech by Alfieri, he is showing how he felt about Eddie and his input to what happened.
A focus in this line is the “very wise old woman” this shows the closeness of the community and the respect for the elderly. The wise also gives us a sense she could see into the future and is a clairvoyant. This is sinister due to the strong Catholic community. This also leads back to the opening speech “justly shot by unjust men” this create the picture of other spirits and a mixed up and disordered community. It also shows there is threatening people and things going on.
‘Justly shot by unjust men’ gives us the sense of Justice versus Law. This idea is that these people being shot were being shot for a good reason, although the people shooting them were no better, they were unlawful. What the characters see as Justice is against the law or is no covered by the law. ‘Morally and legally you have no rights’ here Alfieri is telling Eddie there is nothing he can do to stop Rodolpho getting married and even though he thinks it is his right, Alfieri sees that it is just his jealousy acting.
The narrator enables means there is no need for setting the scene by the characters and leaves the audience in suspense to what has happened. The audience is left to speculate about what has happened previously. As we see when Alfieri turns from a narrator to playing a part in the play. When Eddie enters onstage him and Alfieri seem to start in the middle of a conversation, this means the audience is left guessing to what has happened previously and the moods of both characters.
“That’s what I want to ask you” this is the first line when Eddie enters, it makes the audience confused and they have to think for them to work out what they are feeling. There is also the climax of the play when Eddie phones immigration. The phone box on the side of the stage lighting up shows this. We have our attention drawn to it. The audience knows what has happened, due to the hints of Alfieri and their general knowledge of how Eddies mind works. “Bless her” The struggle between Eddie and Rodolpho means he thinks the bast way to get Catherine back is to get rid of Rodolpho.