The play A view from the bridge the author, Arthur Miller, is presented to the audience as a tragedy but not a classical, a new, modern tragedy. I still employs the elements well known to classical tragedies but then it is set in the docks of America where illegal immigrants are not uncommon to be hiding.
There are many cultural issues surrounding the play and the modern tragedy genre like the way that different cultures treat justice; in America there are laws and anyone who breaks them goes to jail but these laws are not always good enough as Alfieri says on Eddie’s first visit to him “the law is very specific”, it does not deal with every situation; The Sicilians treat justice by taking the law into their own hands and getting even in their own way.
The Sicilians arrived in America in the first place to search for the ‘American Dream’ of a job, money, welcome and hope for the people left behind back home.
The genre of modern tragedy uses a protagonist, like classical tragedies, in the form of Eddie. Miller uses him to focus on the frailty of human nature, how humans often do not know their own feelings so cannot see what they are doing wrong: Eddie, when told by Alfieri “she wants to get married, Eddie. She can’t marry you, can she? “, his answer of “What’re you talkin’ about, marry me! I don’t know what the hell you’re talkin’ about” is indignant and the audience sees that Alfieri has noticed what Eddie just does not see about himself.
The tragic elements used to make A View from the Bridge into a modern tragedy are taken from the old Greek classical tragedies; there is a protagonist who has a tragic flaw led by temptation followed by a downfall; a catalyst inevitably influences the outcome of the play; there is a chorus who makes comments throughout the play, warning the audience of future happenings; the protagonist has predestination throughout the play; the drama contains a violent element; the audience become involved in the drama as if they are really there; after the action, the audience experiences catharsis preceding calm being restored into oneself.
Miller also uses tragic themes to accompany the tragic elements already used in the play. These themes are love, loyalty, betrayal, honour, revenge, jealousy and death and through them is displayed the two cultures; one which used to be Sicilian but has been moulded over time conforming more to the American way of life but still rooted with Sicilian beliefs; the other being completely Sicilian.
Marco and Rodolfo mainly come to America to avoid the depression which was leaving many people without jobs, money or food. The time in which the play was set, a depression was upon Italy, the land in the south and Sicily was so unproductive there was hunger everywhere as Marco described “my wife – she feeds [the children] from her own mouth”. Many Italians and Sicilians realised that in order to get money for food, they would have to emigrate.
Marco has a wife and three children, “the older one is sick in his chest”. Marco came to America to obtain money to send out to his wife and children to pay for food and medication. Marco is excited when Eddie tells him how much money he can earn in a year and he is desperate to send his wife money: “my wife – I want to send right away maybe twenty dollars”.