Honour and justice are two very important issues in the play "A View From the Bridge" by Arthur Miller, how does the author present these issues through the characters and action in the play?

Essay by giaxyHigh School, 11th grade November 2008

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Wikipedia says honour is “the concept of a direct relation between one's virtues (or "values") and their status within society” and that justice is “the ideal, morally correct state of things and persons”. Honour and justice are in fact the two main issues surrounding Arthur Miller’s “A View from the Bridge”. We can see these two elements right at the start of the play, with the story of Vinny Bolzano: the boy who betrayed his family and lost his honour within it. Vinny is in fact the perfect example of the connection between justice and love:"The family had an uncle that they were hidin' in the house, and he snitched to the Immigration […] he had five brothers and the old father. And they grabbed him in the kitchen and pulled him down the stairs - three flights his head was bouncin' like a coconut. And they spit on him in the street, his own father and his brothers.

The whole neighbourhood was crying." (p.13-15)The importance of honour in this play prevails the law, creating a connection with respect: to be honourable is to be respected. If you do anything dishonourable, you lose respect. That is why Marco and Eddie are so keen to protect their names and reach a 'just' conclusion. Codes of honour bind families and the whole neighbourhood with a sense of community. Everyone should look out for one another, to betray someone is the most dishonourable action imaginable.

The next part where we see clear evidence of the importance of honour in the Red Hook community is when Eddie tells Beatrice, "It's an honour, B. I mean it."(p…..) when discussing the imminent arrival of the cousins in America. Here Eddie is saying he is honoured of letting Beatrice’s cousins sleep in his house because he knows they would do the same to him. This is a typical immigrant feeling because here Eddie is probably remembering when he too had come to America. Also, already from this point in the story we can see that his feelings for his Italian traditions overcome the American Law because even if Eddie knows the consequences of hosting two illegal immigrants in his house, he thinks about how he is honoured about it.

Another evidence of honour in this play is the fact that Eddie finds it impossible to admit his love for Catherine is because he knows how dishonourable it is:ALFIERI: “She wants to get married, Eddie. She can’t marry you, can she?”EDDIE: “What are you talkin’ about, marry me! I don’t know what the hell you’re talking about!”Because of how horrible his feelings seem to him are and how he will be dishonoured by them, he cannot accept them. He cannot accept them because it is not morally and socially correct to fall in love with your niece so this gives us an idea of injustice, of the unjust world we live in, where what Eddie has done it is not acceptable.

Alfieri warns Eddie that he will lose the respect of the neighbourhood if he betrays the brothers. "You won't have a friend in the world, Eddie!"(p.49). It is significant that a lawyer (who we would expect to follow the law) is encouraging Eddie to do something illegal by continuing to keep the brothers hidden, obviously against his own interest. This, again, even in Alfieri, shows us how honour prevails to the law: Eddie will lose his honour if he reports Rodolfo and Marco to the immigration authorities.

Marco believes the only honourable course is to punish Eddie when Eddie betrayed the brothers. Alfieri tries to persuade him otherwise: "To promise not to kill is not dishonourable"(p.59), but Marco’s ignorance towards the American law and his sentiments of honour vanquish any fear about breaking the promise he makes to Alfieri. In fact, Marco had given Alfieri his word that he would not harm Eddie, but does so clearly, showing once again that honour is more important than breaking the law. Here, the theme of justice rises once more: Marco finds it wrongful that Eddie can escape punishment and he cannot, making his urge for avenge even stronger.

Eddie, however, blindly refuses to believe that he has done anything wrong. He desperately wants to get back his good name after Marco's accusations caused the neighbourhood to turn away from him: “Marco's got my name - and you run tell him, kid, that he's gonna give it back to me in front of this neighbourhood, or we have it out.”(p.62). The problem is that Marco wants the same thing as Eddie: respect, which is once again connected to honour, they both want apologies from each other which they shall never obtain.

The final scene of “A View from the Bridge” is where Eddie is killed by Marco. One can reflect a lifetime to understand whether this ending is just or not. What we can say is that in the end, natural justice happens. Natural because what has happened is what had to happen: if Eddie wouldn’t have died he would have been dishonoured for the rest of his life, just like Vinny Bolzano.

I believe his death was chosen by Miller as a simpler way of resolving his problems which would have continued if he would have survived the fight with Marco: with Eddie’s death, his and everyone’s travails died too.

BIBLIOGRAPHYhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_View_from_the_Bridgehttp://www.sparknotes.com/drama/viewbridge/http://www.eriding.net/amoore/gcse/viewfromthebridge.htmhttp://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/gcsebitesize/english_literature/dramaviewbridge/http://www.aresearchguide.com/a-view-from-the-bridge.html