A View from the Bridge

Themes and Colors
Immigration, Home, and Belonging Theme Icon
Love and Desire Theme Icon
Respect, Honor, Reputation Theme Icon
Justice and the Law Theme Icon
Maturity and Independence Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in A View from the Bridge, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.
Justice and the Law Theme Icon

The fact that the audience’s guide through the events of the play is Alfieri, a lawyer, suggests that issues of law and justice have a central importance in A View from the Bridge. Specifically, many aspects of the play raise the question of whether the law is an adequate or ultimate authority on what is right and wrong. Throughout the play, the law fails to match up with various characters’ ideas of justice. From the beginning, the presence of illegal immigrants questions the justness of strict immigration laws that force Marco and Rodolpho to hide in Eddie’s apartment, after making a perilous journey to America in the hopes of honest work. As Eddie grows suspicious of Rodolpho, he asks Alfieri for help, but Alfieri tells him he has no legal recourse as Rodolpho has done nothing illegal. Eddie is then upset because he feels that Rodolpho’s behavior simply isn’t right, and that he should have some way of getting justice for Catherine and himself. When Eddie finally turns on Rodolpho and Marco, he is behaving legally, and helping the Immigration Bureau enforce the law. But, in doing so, he is also betraying his own family, and in this way not delivering justice. After Marco is put in prison, he wants his own form of justice through revenge, but Alfieri warns him not to violate the law and appeals to a higher form of justice when he tells Marco that he should leave the question of justice to God. For Marco, the law is in conflict with his idea of natural justice, and so he goes on to stab Eddie. If Eddie chooses the law over justice in turning Marco and Rodolpho in, Marco chooses his own form of justice over the law in killing Eddie.

As these examples suggest, the play can be read as displaying the failures of the law to guarantee real justice. Alfieri describes himself as powerless several times, emphasizing his inability as a man of law to stop the tragic events of the play. However, those who try to take action on behalf of their own ideas of justice regardless of the law end up causing themselves and others harm. When he has no legal recourse to separate Rodolpho and Catherine, Eddie turns Rodolpho and Marco in, setting off a chain of events that ostracizes him from his family and neighborhood (and also leads to his own death). And Marco’s attempt to find justice by killing Eddie results in only more pain for his family, with Eddie’s tragic death at the end of the play. The play can thus be seen as rather ambivalent about the relationship between justice and the law: the law does not necessarily cover all issues of right and wrong adequately. Not all that is legal is right, and not all that is illegal is always wrong. But at the same time, the play cautions against taking justice into one’s own hands, which both Marco’s and Eddie’s actions reveal to be a dangerous, not to mention ineffective course of action.

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Justice and the Law ThemeTracker

The ThemeTracker below shows where, and to what degree, the theme of Justice and the Law appears in each act of A View from the Bridge. Click or tap on any chapter to read its Summary & Analysis.
How often theme appears:
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Justice and the Law Quotes in A View from the Bridge

Below you will find the important quotes in A View from the Bridge related to the theme of Justice and the Law.
Act 1 Quotes

Eddie:
There was a family lived next door to her mother, he was about sixteen—

Beatrice:
No, he was no more than fourteen, cause I was to his confirmation in Saint Agnes. but the family had an uncle that they were hidin’ in the house, and he snitched to the Immigration.

Catherine:
The kid snitched?

Eddie:
On his own uncle!

Catherine:
What, was he crazy?

Eddie:
He was crazy after, I tell you that, boy.

Beatrice:
Oh, it was terrible. 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 neighborhood was cryin’.

Related Characters: Eddie Carbone (speaker), Beatrice (speaker), Catherine (speaker)
Page Number: 17-18
Explanation and Analysis:

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Alfieri:
Is there a question of law somewhere?

Eddie:
That’s what I want to ask you.

Alfieri:
Because there’s nothing illegal about a girl falling in love with an immigrant.

Related Characters: Eddie Carbone (speaker), Alfieri (speaker), Catherine, Rodolpho
Page Number: 42
Explanation and Analysis:

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Act 2 Quotes

Catherine. If I take in my hands a little bird. And she grows and wishes to fly. But I will not let her out of my hands because I love her so much, is that right for me to do?

Related Characters: Rodolpho (speaker), Catherine
Page Number: 61
Explanation and Analysis:

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

This is my last word, Eddie, take it or not, that’s your business. Morally and legally you have no rights, you cannot stop it; she is a free agent.

Related Characters: Alfieri (speaker), Eddie Carbone, Catherine
Page Number: 65
Explanation and Analysis:

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The law is only a word for what has a right to happen. When the law is wrong it’s because it’s unnatural, but in this case it is natural and a river will drown you if you buck it now. Let her go. And bless her.

Related Characters: Alfieri (speaker), Eddie Carbone, Catherine
Page Number: 65
Explanation and Analysis:

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That one! I accuse that one!

Related Characters: Marco (speaker), Eddie Carbone
Page Number: 77
Explanation and Analysis:

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Alfieri:
To promise not to kill is not dishonorable.

Marco:
No?

Alfieri:
No.

Marco:
Then what is done with such a man.

Alfieri:
Nothing. If he obeys the law, he lives. That’s all.

Marco:
The law? All the law is not in a book.

Alfieri:
Yes. In a book. There is no other law.

Marco:
He degraded my brother. My blood. He robbed my children, he mocks my work. I work to come here, mister!

Alfieri:
I know, Marco—

Marco:
There is no law for that? Where is the law for that?

Alfieri:
There is none.

Related Characters: Alfieri (speaker), Marco (speaker), Eddie Carbone, Rodolpho
Page Number: 79
Explanation and Analysis:

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

This is not God, Marco. You hear? Only God makes justice.

Related Characters: Alfieri (speaker), Marco
Page Number: 80
Explanation and Analysis:

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I confess that something perversely pure calls to me from his memory—not purely good, but himself purely, for he allowed himself to be wholly known and for that I think I will love him more than all my sensible clients. And yet, it is better to settle for half, it must be! And so I mourn him—I admit it—with a certain . . . alarm.

Related Characters: Alfieri (speaker), Eddie Carbone
Page Number: 86
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.