Plays are like poetry in their economy of words. By necessity, plays pack a tremendous amount of character development and tension into a mere couple hours of dialogue. This is certainly true with Arthur Miller’s A View From the Bridge.
Miller first heard the story of Eddie and his family from a water-front worker and decided to write it as a play. He first wrote it as a “mood experiment” (vii). He “wanted the audience to feel toward it as I had on hearing it for the first time—not so much with heart-wringing sympathy as with wonder” (vii). After a dismal debut which led to a major rewrite, Miller achieved his goal.
This story is full of tension. Imagine the low cello note in the backdrop of a suspense movie. That note builds throughout the play and doesn’t relent until the climax. Miller gives us characters and relationships of psychological depth.
This play is a study in desire gone wrong. This is human nature left to play out its vices.
—Arthur Miller, A View From the Bridge (New York: Penguin, 1955).