A View From The Bridge

Essay by frieswiththat February 2008

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In “A View from the Bridge”, Arthur Miller uses several strategies to convey the setting to the readers, the most important of which include the characters’ language, their circumstances, and their general attitude towards the law.

Miller establishes the characters’ relatively low economic and social standing through their language. Non-standard English– “ain’t”, “lemme”, “gonna” - is used frequently, in addition to relatively simple diction, and a combination of short – even occasionally bordering on choppy – sentence structures (“Then, what the hell”; “Go, Baby, set the table”, “I swear”) and longer bursts of speech (“I was just thinkin’ before, comin’ home, suppose my father didn’t come to this country and I was starvin’ like them over there … and I had people … could keep me a couple of months”, “I’m the best student, he says, and if I want, I should take the job and the end of the year he’ll let me take the examination and he’ll give me the certificate.”)

Perhaps even the characters’ heavy accents and colloquialisms– “She’ll be with a lotta plumbers”, “”I’m walkin’ wavy?”, “Listen, you been givin’ me the willies they way you walk”, “I don’t have nothin’ to eat for them!” – reflect their relatively modest means and lack of formal education.

The neighborhood is a poor one; Alfieri’s law cases, he says, consist of the “petty troubles of the poor” which shows that for these recent immigrants, life is basic, devoid of any “elegance” or “glamour”. The family lives in relatively poor circumstances – it is a “worker’s flat, clean, sparse, homely”. Nevertheless, they take pride in their house – which is shown through their constant planning (“I’m gonna buy all new dishes with my first pay!”, “I’ll fix up the whole house! I’ll buy a rug!”, “You was...