A View from the Bridge

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The Brooklyn Bridge Symbol Analysis

The Brooklyn Bridge Symbol Icon
While it is never mentioned explicitly during the play, the Brooklyn Bridge is alluded to in Miller’s title and is to be imagined in the background of Eddie’s Brooklyn neighborhood. An important symbol of New York that connects Brooklyn to Manhattan, the bridge is a liminal, or in-between space, not fully belonging to either Brooklyn or Manhattan. In this way, it comes to represent how many of the characters in the play are similarly on “bridges” of sorts in their lives, caught between two worlds or two stages of life. As illegal immigrants, Marco and Rodolpho are caught between Italy and the United States. Catherine, meanwhile, is caught between childhood and adulthood, as well as between her relationships with Eddie and with Rodolpho. On a broader level, all the Italian immigrants in Red Hook—even those who are relatively acclimated to their lives in America—must still balance and reconcile their Italian past with their American present.

The Brooklyn Bridge Quotes in A View from the Bridge

The A View from the Bridge quotes below all refer to the symbol of The Brooklyn Bridge. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Immigration, Home, and Belonging Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Penguin Classics edition of A View from the Bridge published in 2009.
Act 1 Quotes

But this is Red Hook, not Sicily. This is the slum that faces the bay on the seaward side of Brooklyn Bridge. This is the gullet of New York swallowing the tonnage of the world. And now we are quite civilized, quite American.

Related Characters: Alfieri (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Brooklyn Bridge
Page Number: 4
Explanation and Analysis:

The play opens with a monologue by Alfieri, a lawyer who immigrated to Red Hook from Italy when he was 25 years old. Throughout the play, Alfieri acts as a one man "Greek chorus" who frames and comments on the actions of the characters and the nature of the neighborhood. 

In this quote, he sets the scene for the stage of Red Hook, Brooklyn, a neighborhood largely populated by poor but proud Italian immigrants. Many of the men who live here are longshoremen, or dock workers who load and unload shipments from around the world. They literally "swallow" the "tonnage of the world" by relying on the tons of goods from around the world to support their livelihoods. Though these Brooklynites have escaped the hunger and unemployment that plagued them in their countries of origin, or their parents' country of origin, their view of the ocean and their attachment to the sea is a constant reminder of where they came from, and for illegal immigrants, where they could very easily end up. Aliferi's invocation of the Brooklyn Bridge is a metaphor for the bridge between wealthy New York and the American Dream, as it connects poor Brooklyn to shiny Manhattan—an important image, and one that contributes to the play's title. 


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