How does Miller present ideas about justice and the law in A View from the Bridge? Essay
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In A View from the Bridge, Miller portrays the two main methods of bringing about justice – the US Law System and the Sicilian moral code – and their many downfalls. He also uses the character of Alfieri as a symbol for the US Law System, and uses him to describe the archaic nature of the US Law system, as well as how it is ineffectual. The title of play is ‘A View from the Bridge’, and Miller portrays the way in which the characters are unable to bridge between the two cultures.
Initially, Miller presents ideas about how the US Law System is out of date and ineffectual. Alfieri, the lawyer, is the personified symbol of the US Law system in the play, and he is initially described by Miller, at the start of the play, as ‘in his fifties, turning gray’. This could possibly be used to suggest the way that the US Law system is out-of-date – by 50 years – and that it is becoming increasingly ineffectual. In addition, Alfieri himself states that ‘the law is very specific’, which goes to show the way in which the law is not very effective and cannot solve many problems. This is further compounded upon by the way in which both Eddie and Marco come to the law, seeking for assistance, but neither of them get their way, although both are coming to the legal system for very different reasons.
In fact, Alfieri himself states twice how he was ‘powerless’ to stop the story running ‘its bloody course’, which goes to show that Miller believes that the US Law system is ineffectual. In fact, Alfieri himself has to state that ‘only God makes justice’, further showing how the law system is too black-and-white to be effective, and that because of that, justice is out of their power. Through this, perhaps, Miller is trying to portray the way in which major reforms need to be made to the US Law System in order for it to be effective in contemporary society.
Furthermore, Miller portrays ways in which the Sicilian moral code also has many flaws. Marco relies on the Sicilian moral code, and this can be seen when he states that ‘all the law is not in a book’, which could also show that Marco disagrees with the US Law System. Furthermore, he asks ‘where is the law for that?’ when he speaks about how Eddie has ‘degraded my brother’ and ‘robbed my children’, showing the way in which Marco believes that Eddie deserves punishment that the law does not provide.
He also states that ‘in my country he would be dead’, which further shows how he abides by the Sicilian law system, and highlights the contrasts in justice and the law between the two countries. However, due to Marco’s strict obedience to the Sicilian morals, he ends up having to go back to Italy, even though he arrived in the country to ‘work for his family’. Miller possibly uses this to showcase the way in which strict allegiance to a certain belief only ends in failure, as Marco was unable to provide for his family due to his murdering of Eddie, due to the Sicilian moral code.
In addition, Miller portrays the way in which there is a need to settle for half between the US Law system and the Italian moral code. The fact that both people who wholeheartedly rely on either the sicilian moral code or the US Law System are both tragic failures in the novel illustrates this fact. Furthermore, and the beginning and end of the play, Alfieri states how ‘we settle for half and we like it better’, which goes to show how ‘settling for half’ has a positive impact, in Miller’s opinion. Eddie’s failure to settle for half can be seen in the scene where he reads the newspaper. Initially, he is said to read the newspaper, and due to the newspaper’s black-and-white colouration, it could possibly be symbolic of the black-and-white US Law system, and therefore, it could be inferred that Eddie is using the shield of the US Law system to protect himself.
However, when Rodolpho and Catherine begin to dance, he is said to ‘lower the paper’, and then ‘unconsciously twist the paper in a tight roll’. This could possibly suggest that Eddie has stopped relying on the US Law System, and is instead taking matters into his own hands, by utilising the Italian Moral Code, and it is this desire for control and failure to settle for half which is Eddie’s downfall in the play, resulting in his death. Through this, Miller portrays the issues with not being able to settle for half.
Overall, Miller portrays how neither archaic methods of bringing about justice is effective in the real world, and uses the downfall of Eddie and Marco to illustrate the failures of not only the US Law System, but also the Sicilian Moral Code, and calls for the ‘settling for half’ between the two.