Examine the role of Alfieri in A view from the bridge. Comment on
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Examine the role of Alfieri in A view from the bridge. Comment on
his dramatic function in the play and his role as both character and
This essay will explore the different roles that Alfieri takes on in
'A view from the bridge. I will comment on how he uses his role as
both commentator and character to create dramatic tension in the play.
A view from the bridge is a play set in the late 1940s and is based in
the rural streets of Brooklyn harbour, New York. Eddie Carbone is an
Italian longshoreman working on the New York docks and lives with his
wife Beatrice and her niece Catherine. Eddie's wife accepts to refuge
her cousins from Sicily as illegal immigrants until they could get
their paperwork sorted. Catherine becomes attracted to one of the
brothers and that's when the troubles start. Eddies becomes rapt in
jealousy and wants to get rid of the two brothers in any possible way.
Alfieri is a lawyer and is Eddie's friend as well. He tries to
convince Eddie not to do something which he will regret later on and
which will affect his life in the society. Eddie decides not to listen
to Alfieri and goes on top break the Italian code.
Alfieri is a lawyer who also lives in the same area as Eddie Carbone.
In the play he takes on the role of a character as well as taking on
the role of a narrator. One role he takes on in the play is the voice
of the law. He brings this up in a conversation with Eddie where he
says, "Eddie, I'm a lawyer…Can you prove that?" This clearly shows
that Alfieri uses his knowledge to bring in the voice of the law into
Eddie's situation. Due to him being a lawyer, he knows that if Eddie
wants to take legal actions against Rodolfo, then he will need to get
proof for the law to believe him. Due to him being a lawyer, he has
got all the legal knowledge needed to deal with every day uses.
As well as being the voice of the law, Alfieri is also an advisor to
Eddie. He warns Eddie that he "won't have a friend in the world" if he
carries on the way he is going. This shows that Alfieri knows that a
tragedy is inevitable if Eddie doesn't stop. Therefore he uses his
role as an advisor to advise Eddie to stop himself. In advising Eddie
in doing so, Alfieri is trying to stop Eddie from doing what he knows
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Alfieri Comment Bridge Dramatic Function Italian Eddie Carbone Lawyer Rodolfo Illegal Immigrants Advisor
he will regret later on. Alfieri is using his role as a friend of
Eddie to advise him into the right path.
Alfieri also tries helping out Eddie and takes on the role of a
mentor. "I gave you my advice, Eddie. That's it." This quote shows us
that Alfieri is using his role as a mentor to try and sort Eddie out.
The role of a mentor is someone who is a trusted adviser and Alfieri
fits into that criterion due to his role in the play. He is telling
Eddie what's right and what is wrong so that Eddie doesn't make a
mistake in the near future.
In addition to Alfieri being a character in the play, he also acts as
a narrator in the same way as a Greek chorus. He narrates the story as
well as being a character. "This one's name was Eddie Carbone". This
quote clearly shows us that Alfieri is used to introduce key
characters in the play. He has the roles of both an observer and a
commentator and he uses the role of a commentator to address the
audience just like a narrator would do.
Using the role of a narrator, Alfieri also is used to create dramatic
tension in the play. He comments on the events in the play, "…there
was a trouble that would not go away". In doing so, Alfieri is making
the reader think. He is used to comment on the play which creates
dramatic tension. Therefore this will make the reader think what will
happen and will put questions in the audiences mind. Alfieri's hints
on what is to come in the play are used to engage the audience.
Alfieri is not just a lawyer to Eddie he is also a family friend. "I
had represented his father…the family in a casual way". This shows us
that Alfieri hasn't met Eddie for the first time. He had dealt with
the family before and became acquainted with the family. This means
that he knows Eddie quite well and isn't just a lawyer to him. This
lets the audience know that the role Alfieri is playing is to help out
Eddie in difficult situations more in a friendly way than jus a
Alfieri's role of a friend also expands slightly towards Eddie. He
becomes a father like figure for Eddie. This is shown in the way that
Alfieri speaks to Eddie. "I'm not only telling you now, I'm warning
you". You can see from this quote that Alfieri is not talking to Eddie
in the way that a friend would. He is speaking to Eddie in the way
that his father would probably do. Due to the fact that Alfieri knew
Eddie's father, he feels a need to take his father's role. He is the
closest thing that Eddie has to a father because his father has passed
away. This is why he is not only telling Eddie in the conversation, he
is much more strict and firm by warning Eddie which is a role that a
father would have on his child.
Alfieri is the symbolic bridge between American law and tribal Italian
law. Alfieri, himself the son of an Italian immigrant, acts as a
chorus in the play. He provides commentary on the action and
articulates the greater moral and social implications of the drama.
Alfieri attempts to portray the characters objectively, but,
especially in the case of Eddie Carbone, narrates the play as if it
were a great legend. Alfieri adds grandeur to the story and transforms
the story of a Longshoreman into a larger than life tragic tale.
Alfieri, an Italian-American, is true to his ethnic identity. The play
told from the viewpoint of Alfieri, the view from the bridge between
American and Italian cultures who attempts to objectively give a
picture of Eddie Carbone and the 1950s Red Hook, Brooklyn community.
Alfieri represents the difficult stretch, embodied in the Brooklyn
Bridge, from small ethnic communities filled with dock labourers to
the disparate cosmopolitan wealth and intellectualism of Manhattan.
The old and new worlds are codified in the immigrant-son Alfieri.
Alfieri informs the audience and provides commentary on what is
happening in the story. Alfieri is fairly inconsequential in the
action of the play in general, but more importantly frames the play as
a form of a modern fairy tale. Alfieri admittedly cannot help Eddie
Carbone, but must powerlessly watch the tragic events unfold before
him. There is no illusion of reality, Alfieri purposely breaks the
fourth wall and talks to the audience during the re-enactment of the
Alfieri is trapped in the middle. He was born an Italian, but for the past twenty-five years or so he's been an American. Many critics say that he's the bridge that the title of the play refers to, because he has one foot in Italy and the other in America. Whatever the case, it seems that these two cultures and their ideas of right and wrong are at war inside him.
What does that mean, exactly? Well, first of all, he's a lawyer and, like most honest lawyers, he respects the law. In his first monologue, he tells the audience, "Now we are quite civilized, quite American. Now we settle for half, and I like it better" (1.1). When he says "settle for half" he means that the community of Red Hook rarely resolves its feuds with violence anymore, like they did back when Al Capone roamed the streets. Now they compromise. They rely on the law. Well, most of the time. When Eddie and Marco duel in order to regain their honor, they're adhering to a much older law, the tribal laws of Italy. These codes of conduct demand bloody revenge, when a man's honor has been attacked.
For pretty much the entire play, Alfieri seems to be on the side of American law. He is the voice of reason. When Eddie first comes to him for help, Alfieri tells him, "You have no recourse in the law" (1.546). There's nothing illegal about Catherine and Rodolfo's relationship. He advises Eddie to forget about it and let Catherine live her own life. It's not until Alfieri's second meeting with Eddie that we get a hint that some part of him might secretly be attracted to the animalistic forces that Eddie is unleashing. Alfieri tells the audience about how "almost transfixed [he] had come to feel" (2.86).
Even so, when the lawyer goes to bail out Rodolfo and Marco, he makes Marco promise to not take revenge on Eddie. Alfieri tells him that "Only God" has the right to judge such things (2.271). Marco almost immediately goes back on his promise. We wonder if some part of Alfieri knew this would happen. It seems pretty obvious, right? Did Alfieri unconsciously think that violence was the only proper way to end the dispute? Was his Italian upbringing influencing his decision? Maybe, maybe not.
In his final monologue, however, Alfieri finally admits to the war that's been going on inside him. "And so I mourn [Eddie] – I admit it – with a certain…alarm" (2.336). While Alfieri's logical mind knows what Eddie did was wrong, some part of him seems to admire the longshoreman's refusal to "settle for half" (2.336).
Alfieri as Greek Chorus
No Greek tragedy is complete without a chorus. In A View from the Bridge, Miller replaces what used to be a horde of masked singing dancers with one guy – Alfieri.
Back in the day, when Athens was the theatre capitol of the Western world, it was the chorus's job to step in and comment on the action of story. Alfieri does the same thing. He pops up between scenes, gives his two cents, and connects the play with larger moral and societal implications. For the most part, Alfieri does a lot of talking about the contrasting Italian and American ideas of justice, which we talk about at length in the section above.
The chorus generally did a lot of moaning and wailing about the tragic events that were going on around them. Some critics say their sympathy was the audience's window into the horrific events of the play. While Alfieri doesn't make a big show of his sorrow, he comments several times on how terrible everything that goes down is. He even ends the play by telling the audience that he mourns Eddie.
The chorus would also sometimes try and talk the tragic hero out of whatever misguided things they were doing. Of course, the hero would always be like whatever and just do what he wanted to do in the first place. Sound familiar? The same thing happens with Alfieri and Eddie. Alfieri tells him to chill out. Eddie doesn't. Eddie dies.