Justice and Law in A View From The Bridge

Justice and Law in A View From The Bridge

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In "a view from the Bridge", justice and law are not presented as being synonymous.

The play "A view from the Bridge" by Arthur Miller shows the tragic demise of its protagonist "Eddie Carbone" and towards his demise we are presented with two different yet similar concepts; justice and the law. Although the two words usually stand side by side, "A view from the Bridge" shows how they are sometimes not synonymous with one another through: a belief in communal law or community values, the American system of justice and the analogy of settling for half.

The Red Hook community is described by Alfieri to be dominated by different ethnic communities, which bring with them different cultural beliefs and values. One of the dominating races within Red Hook is the Sicilian community, and Alfieri conveys the view that family honor and respect as well are of paramount importance to that community, as well as a general lack of faith in the quality of the American justice system. Alfieri states "Justice is very important here" which demonstrates how revenge on others even if it where outside the law fits in with their cultural values and ethnic beliefs. The old saying "an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth" gives a very good idea of the community's view of justice. Alfieri is also implying that conflict is inevitable once injustice has been committed as the community is often dissatisfied with the "justice" the law brings they take it into their own hands to find this justice.

Arthur Miller himself was charged with contempt by a U.S Court and was faced with the dilemma of choosing to abide by the law, or accept community justice and not "rat" on his friends and family. A View from the Bridge criticizes those during the McCarthy trials (ones Arthur Miller was involved) who had "ratted" out innocent people. Arthur Miller chose to write about a community that accepted and protected unlawful people because of their own beliefs in justice and fairness, which is, in essence, what the law attempts to be based on but ultimately cannot because "All the law is not in a book". When Marco is betrayed by Eddie, he cannot accept the laws stated in America and although Alfieri states "there is no other law" outside the "law", the community has set "justices" that tell them NOT to rat on immigrants. This shows how justice and law go against each other.

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The American system of justice is founded upon the constitution and is written in a book that is practiced in courts and by lawyers. Alfieri who is the local lawyer values this and throughout the play advocates people follow the "law" yet still adheres to the community justice standards by telling Eddie that he "doesn't want to do anything about that" in reference to Marco and Rodolphos illegal immigration. Through Alfieri, the themes of justice and law are explored through his consultations with Eddie. When Eddie is told that Rodolpho has broken no law, he cannot believe what he hears, "I mean there must be some kinda law which -" because all of the community standards Eddie has been brought up by; that is: homosexuality is bad, males do not cook or make dresses tell him that Rodolpho should not be allowed to justly marry Catherine however the law "which allows what is natural to happen" has no argument with this. When Eddie chose to betray Marco and Rodolpho in attempts to keep Catherine his "paper doll", he is going against his treasured community justices and is following the law. Which in the end leads to Eddies demise.

Alfieri concludes a view from a bridge: "most of the time now we settle for half". This is because the law may never be able to deliver total and ultimate justice, thus being unable to satisfy everybody. Marco and Eddie are a perfect example of characters that are not willing to settle for half even though others around them have. Rodolpho and Catherine give Marco reasonable excuses to not chase after Eddie such as still being able to work and provide for his family, displaying how there are those who are willing to settle for half. Alfieri tells us that there is a great price to pay for total justice, a price most people are not willing or prepared to pay such as imprisonment and death which is why many abide by the law even though it cannot advocate fully for justice. It is ultimately explained through his own experiences with the law, how it cannot extract justice for everyone and therefore different cultures and groups must compromise and adapt to each others if they want to avoid another tragedy like the one of Eddie Carbone and settle for half.

Justice and law play important parts in Arthur Millers play, but have differing meaning. In some cases they will go completely against one another. Community interpretations of justice or what is interpreted to be "right" in the community take a more meaningful bearing for most of the play and are advocated for by Eddie and most of society. Law and the court system, which is ironically how Eddie attempts to get rid of Rodolpho, and which is advocated by Alfieri is what "has a right to happen" and is not seen as bringing justice in the community. Community Justice in the end is had when Marco kills Eddie which is a long shot away from what the law would interpret to be just. Therefore it can definitely by said that law and justice are not portrayed as synonymous in the play A View from the Bridge.
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