A View from a Bridge Dramatic Techniques

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How does Arthur Miller successfully engage an audience with
"A play with no surprise"?

A view from a bridge is a play written by Arthur Miller in the 1950's. Miller wrote the play as a modern day Greek tragedy in New York Brooklyn. Arthur Miller captures the audience with a true story twisted in his own words from which emerge the controversial ideas of incest, cultural obligation and masculinity. The part in the play where Alfieri mentions ‘it is not what but how' means that even though we know the end result its how the end result happens in such an unexpected but inevitable way that it grips us and leaves us in shock even after the end.

The play is set in a ghetto community of Sicilian Italians. Most Italians at that time lived in poorer areas rather than regular Americans who lived in richer areas. During the 1950's the Italians that lived in America had working class jobs. Miller was studying the lives of dockworkers and longshoremen in Brooklyn's harbour. The characters in Millers play also work as dockworkers. In the play women stayed at home cooked, cleaned and raised the children the men where breadwinners they would work take lead of the family. This idea of men being the lead and women being a mediocre compared to men, was part of Italian culture. This idea is quite controversial in Act 2, as it is Beatrice who recognises Eddie's feelings for Catherine, and it is also Beatrice who stops him from going any further.

Most of the Italians in A view from a bridge are immigrants who had come to seek the American dream. The American dream in their mind was a good job that had a high income. Many of the immigrants lived illegally. Every Italian with or without any relation (to the immigrant) was to remain silent about the matter. This was another aspect about Sicilian code of honour. Italians would come to America to find work, to live a good life, to earn a decent living. A quotation to show why immigrants come to America ‘Me, yes forever me I want to be an American and then I want to go back to Italy and buy a motorcycle' this statement by Rodolfo shows that he thinks that America is a land of opportunities and can earn enough money for himself.

A view from the Bridge is written in the style of a Geek Tragedy. Greek tragedies are made up of a main character who suffers a downfall because of a fault in themselves. The protagonist Eddie suffers a downfall because of a fault in him. Eddie is unable to recognise his growing feelings for Catherine. Eddie is a longshoreman with a normal life; another aspect of a Greek tragedy is that the protagonist is often an ordinary character. A Greek tragedy would usually have a chorus or narrator to introduce and take the audience through the play. Alfieri is the chorus at the beginning; he observes the characters and narrates the play throughout. The theme of betrayal is strong in Greeks tragedies; Eddie betrays the Italian culture by giving Rodolfo and Marco's names to the immigration Bureau.

Alfieri is chorus he narrates the play. He is also a character in the play. Alfieri immediately starts the play and creates the atmosphere. Alfieri starts the play with the opening speech. ‘You see how uneasily they nod to me, that's because I'm a lawyer', Alfieri has now established he is a lawyer.' We're only thought of in connection with disasters' this quote shows us that people in the play have a very set way of thinking also that the play holds tragedies. ‘I often think that behind that suspicious little nod of theirs lies three thousand years of distrust' the way Arthur Millers uses the word suspicious and distrust adds tension to the atmosphere. This statement also tells us that the play is going to be about ordinary people and their lives. ‘Justice is very important here' Arthur Miller mentions this after law, to show us that law and justice are too different things. This creates tension because he has mentioned Italians having their own Idea of fairness. Alfieri...
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