A View from the Bridge: Story of a Brooklyn Longshoreman

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Arthur Miller first heard the story of a Brooklyn longshoreman that would become the basis for his play, A View from the Bridge in 1947. He would not write it until 1955, when it was produced on Broadway as a simple, unadorned one-act. Miller would then develop and expand it into a full-length production with director Peter Brook in London in 1956. The incubation period of A View from the Bridge, spanning from 1947 to 1956, straddles and absorbs a host of major events both on the national landscape and in Miller’s own life. In his autobiography, Timebends: A Life, Arthur Miller defines the trajectory of this turbulent chapter of his life that began with his curiosity in a new longshoremen’s movement trying to clean up the corruption on the Brooklyn waterfront:

Out of it would come a movie script (never to be produced); a play, A View from the Bridge; and a trip to Hollywood, where I would meet an unknown young actress, Marilyn Monroe, and at the same time come into direct collision with the subterranean machine that enforced political blacklisting and the ideological disciplining of film writers, actors, and directors (149).
Miller’s distillation of that period provides a convenient outline or a bounding set of markers guiding the search through the historical context of A View from the Bridge, as well as the personal and cultural influences at work on him. But before examining the details of Miller’s life, we should zoom out to a larger view of this period and the currents leading into the 1950’s to root our understanding in a broader context.

The economic depression of the 1930’s had a profound effect on Miller as he has intimated in his autobiography, but not solely for the pain of watching his family and community suffer. Growing up in the Depression meant a time “when it had been all but impossible to think of one’s fate apart from that of society” (Timebends 363). This is a belief that would stick with Miller and so many other working class men and

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