The Dramatic Function of Alfieri in Arthur Miller's A View from the Bridge

The Dramatic Function of Alfieri in Arthur Miller's A View from the Bridge

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The Dramatic Function of Alfieri in Arthur Miller's A View from the Bridge

The play "A View from the Bridge" was written by Arthur Miller in
1955. He was born in New York and graduated in English in 1938, to
become a playwright. The play is set in Red Hook, in the slums of
Brooklyn. It is about immigrant workers who are struggling to find
work

and provide for their families and survive at the same time. In "A
View from the Bridge" Alfieri is a character who has been created to
explain and comment on the themes and issues that arise in the play,
to the audience.

Alfieri plays a vital role in the play. He engages with both the
characters and the audience, which makes him an engaged narrator.
Arthur Miller created Alfieri's role because after he wrote "The
Crucible" he felt that not one of his reviewers had captured the inner
themes in the play. So he created the character of Alfieri to act as a
chorus who warns the audience that tragic events are about to happen
as for example when he says "…watched it run its bloody course". The
use of the term "Bloody" gives us the impression that something bad is
going to happen and when he says "…meet a Lawyer or a Priest on the
street is unlucky" this also gives us the impression that something
bad like murder or arguments or accidents are going to happen and
makes us think that the play is going to end in a tragic way which
raises the tension of the audience. He warns the audience of the
tragic events that are going to happen before they happen which
increases the tension of the audience. This is shown in the opening
speech when Alfieri says "This ones name was Eddie Carbone" by
referring to Eddie in the past tense, Alfieri leaves the audience with
doubts and questions in their mind about what happens to Eddie and
gives a slight hint that something bad has happened or will happen to
Eddie in the play.

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Alfieri makes the themes and issues of the story explicit, almost like
a Greek chorus in a Greek tragedy. We see this when Alfieri comments
on the themes of the story in his opening soliloquy when he says "cut
precisely in half by a machine gun on the corner of union street..."
This makes us see that the theme of violence will arise in the play.

Furthermore, he introduces the action as a retelling of the events
already in the past. By giving details of place, date or time he
enables the action to move swiftly from one episode to another,
without the characters having to give this information. This is often
skilfully mixed with brief comments such as "He was as good a man as
he had to be" and "He bought home his pay and he lived" which make us
believe that everything was right before the night the cousins arrived
and that Eddie was a good man. He is trying to put forwards a
description of Eddie without making it too obvious.

In addition, as Alfieri is a Lawyer and Lawyers are trusted, we trust
him to be a good judge of character and rational, because he is
professionally detached. As Alfieri is a Lawyer, he represents the
American legal system and is against the Sicilian code of honour
though he understands why all Italians abide by it as he himself is
Italian. He offers an objective view of Italian society and the events
of the story by retelling the story so the audience believe and trust
his opinion. He does this by saying "in Sicily, from where their
fathers came, the law…" This shows that he offers an objective view of
Italian society.

Another function Alfieri fulfils is that his character gives Eddie the
chance to reveal his innermost feelings, which the audience has no
other way of knowing. We see this when Eddie says "The guy ain't right
Mr. Alfieri". This shows us that Eddie feels safe revealing his true
feelings to Alfieri but no one else as he sees Alfieri as a Father
like character to him. Another thing this shows us is that Eddie is
emotionally illiterate and doesn't know how to express his feelings to
anybody around him. We can also tell that Eddie has a lot of trouble
expressing his feelings to people that are very close to him such as
his wife when he states "Even my wife I didn't exactly say this". The
fact that he does not tell his wife but tells Alfieri shows us that
their relationship isn't very strong and that without Alfieri the
audience would have no way of knowing how Eddie feels and what his
innermost feelings and ideas are.

Moreover, Alfieri explains the role of the Sicilian Code of honour in
the play. He does this by saying things like "to promise not to kill
is not dishonourable" this shows us that he explains the role of the
Sicilian code as it is all about the Italians honour and respect.

Arthur Miller also created Alfieri's character to give the audience an
idea of how he wants us to feel about the characters for example when
he says "I will love him more than any of my sensible clients" which
tells us that Alfieri is trying to make us feel sympathy for Eddie and
love him. He is trying to make us feel that he didn't deserve to die.
If Alfieri hadn't been part of the play Eddie would have been a
villain in the eyes of the audience as he could not defend himself
much.

In addition to all this, Alfieri gives Eddie advice that the audience
would like to give him such as "Let her go". Here Alfieri is telling
Eddie to let Catherine have her freedom because he doesn't want
anything bad to happen.

In conclusion, I believe Alfieri plays an important role as a dramatic
device. Besides this, I believe that Alfieri has an impact on other
characters decisions. He holds an objective view of the Italian and
American communities and their beliefs and rules so he understands the
illegal actions taken but does not feel they are right and does not
agree with them. He moves from one scene to another swiftly from one
episode to another, without the characters having to give this
information. As he does this he fills in all the gaps such as
information about the background of the characters and scenes and
without him the play would fall apart as he is the one holding
everything together and linking one scene to another.

I believe the whole play is in Alfieri's mind, like a memory, as in
his prologue at the beginning of the play he is always talking in the
past tense. An example of this is when he says "This ones name was
Eddie Carbone," the use of the word"was" tells us that Eddie has
already died.
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