Drama - Social and Historical Context.
Arthur Miller was born to a Jewish family in New York in 1915. His grandparents had come to America from Poland. When the family business failed, they moved to Brooklyn, where A View from the Bridge is set. He began to write plays while he was a student at the University of Michigan. He received much acclaim from All My Sons in 1947; Death of a Salesman (1949) - which won the Pulitzer Prize - and The Crucible (1952) confirmed him as a great playwright.
Between his years as a journalist and making his name as a writer, Miller worked in the Brooklyn shipyards for two years, where he befriended the Italians he worked alongside. He heard a story of some men coming over to work illegally and being betrayed. The story inspired A View from the Bridge, which was written in 1955. It was originally a one-act play, but Miller re-worked it into a two-act play the following year.
Most of his work is set in the America of the day and portrays realistic characters and events. He deals with political and moral issues and weaves in ideas from Greek tragedy. He is interested in how personal relationships dictate the way one leads one's life and about people's struggles to do what is right. .
Italy in 1955 was a poor country. After the war, following a referendum, the monarchy was abolished and a republic was established.
However, the economy was slow to grow, especially in the south, which was less industrialised. With no jobs and no prospects, it was not surprising that many people decided to try their luck in 'rich' America. There was a thriving trade in illegal immigration, encouraged by the dockyard owners, who knew that they could get cheap labour from immigrants until they had paid for their passage over. Once they had paid their fare, the immigrants were left to make their own way.
However, the U.S.A was not only recovering from the Second World War, it was also stuck in the middle of the Cold War with the Communist Russians.