Study Guide

A View from the Bridge Justice and Judgment

By Arthur Miller

Justice and Judgment

Alfieri: "A lawyer means the law, and in Sicily, from where there fathers came, the law has not been a friendly idea since the Greeks were beaten." (1.1)

Alfieri is functioning like a Greek chorus by putting the play in a larger historical context.

Alfieri: "Oh, there were many here who were justly shot by unjust men. Justice is very important here." (1.1)

How is it possible for a person to shot "justly" by and "unjust" man? What is this thing called justice anyway?

Alfieri: "Now we settle for half, and I like it better." (1.1)

Settling for half means compromise to Alfieri. He sees it as the cornerstone to American style justice.

Eddie: "Come on show me! What're you gonna be? Show me!" (2.80)

This is Eddie talking junk to Rodolfo right before they fight. He's not settling for anything anymore. It's time for him to make his own justice.

Alfieri: "I kept wanting to call the police, but […] Nothing at all had really happened." (2.86)

American justice is failing our friendly neighborhood lawyer. He knows something bad is going to happen, but the law can't help him.

Marco: "In my country [Eddie] would be dead now." (2.241)

Marco wants revenge. This would be perfectly acceptable in Sicily. Does he have a right to it?

Marco: "All the law is not in a book." (2.257)

He's got a point here. There's all kinds of things that society agrees you just shouldn't do, but aren't technically illegal.

Marco: "He degraded my brother. My blood. He robbed my children […] Where is the law for that?
Alfieri: There is none." (2.259-261)

Marco is pretty unhappy with the failure of America to provide the kind of justice he thinks is only right and proper.

Alfieri: "Only God, Marco."

Alfieri is warning Marco not to take the place of God in meeting out a sentence for Eddie's crimes. You hear this same warning in a lot in Greek tragedies as well.

Alfieri: "it is better to settle for half, it must be! And so I mourn him – I admit it – with a certain…alarm."

Some part of our upright lawyer seems to almost celebrate the breakdown of law that Eddie caused. Is Alfieri really as fond of American law as he says he is?