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Explore the dramatic use of Alfieri in ‘A view from the Bridge’. What is his dramatic significance in the play? Arthur Miller was an American playwright, essayist and author. He was born in New York City on October 17th 1915. He lived with his mother and father, who were Jewish, in New York City. His father was a women’s clothing manufacturer while his mother was a schoolteacher. The family were rich until the stock market crash of 1929 when they lost most of their money.
They were then forced to move into Brooklyn, a very poor district where a lot of legal and illegal immigrants lived and where a lot of crime would happen. Miller used to do a variety of jobs so that his parents could afford to send him to college. In 1947 Miller wrote his first play, All My Sons which won the New York Drama Critics Circle Award. Two of his most well-known plays are The Crucible and Death of a Salesman. The play I will be covering is called ‘A view from the Bridge’ which was written in 1955.
The idea behind it was influenced by a story Miller heard while he was working on the docks. ‘A view from the Bridge’ is set in Brooklyn, following the life of the main character Eddie Carbone who was the husband to Beatrice and uncle to Catherine. When Beatrice’s cousins, Rodolfo and Marco, arrived in Brooklyn as illegal immigrants from Italy; this was when the trouble started. The other main character was Alfieri; he was a narrator, telling the story of Eddie Carbone’s life. The reason for the play having the name ‘A view from the Bridge’ was because it contained the good and the bad.
Eddie was jealous of Rodolfo and Catherine as he was trying to sabotage their ideas of marriage whilst Catherine and Rodolfo wanted to get married because they loved each other. Alfieri was standing on the bridge looking over, watching the argument flare out until its disastrous conclusion, ending in death. Miller started the play with Alfieri, the narrator. This was because of Alfieri’s importance. Theoretically, Alfieri was telling a story that had already happened to the audience. It was important to let the audience know that this story was a circular plot.
Alfieri started the play with his first soliloquy. He was walking to his office when he saw a couple of long shore men. “You wouldn’t have known it but something amusing has just happened. See how uneasily they nod to me? That’s because I am a lawyer… we’re only thought of in connection with disasters and they’d rather not get too close. ” Here Alfieri showed that he was observant because he realized what had happened even though nobody else did. He also told the audience who he was; he was a lawyer so this must mean that he was a very intelligent man.
Additionally, he commented on how people treated him because of his job. You only go to lawyers if something bad has happened e. g. murder or family rows. The long shore men nodded to him uneasily which suggests that they distrusted him. “A lawyer means the law… ” Here Alfieri has introduced the first main theme in the play: Law. “I am inclined to notice the ruins of in things, perhaps because I was born in Italy. ” Alfieri told the audience that he was observant. He noticed the bad things that maybe others cold not see. He said it was because he was born in Italy.
From this we can assume that Italy was a very poor place which meant that Alfieri was used to seeing the bad things because of his life in Italy, which also means that life in Brooklyn was similar to yet better than Italy, so many more Italians would already be in Brooklyn or wanting to move to there. “… Frankie Yale himself was cut precisely in half by a machine gun on the corner of Union Street… ” Alfieri was mentioning past events, this sentence also builds tension, it explained that Brooklyn was a very poor district where crime was not unusual. He then went on to say:
“Oh, there were many here who were justly shot by unjust men. ” This suggests that a lot of dishonest men were rightfully killed; however, the killers were dishonest themselves so the killers had no right to kill the other person. “Justice is very important here. ” This sentence brings in the second main theme to the play: Justice. The whole play is going to be revolving around the idea of law and justice. “This is the slum that faces the bay on the seaward side of Brooklyn Bridge. This is the gullet of New York swallowing the tonnage of the world… Now we settle for half, and I like it better.
I no longer keep a pistol in my filling cabinet. ” Here Alfieri was setting the scene, describing how horrible Brooklyn was, it was the lowest of the low, it was making New York look like a bad place, the use of personification is very effective because it referred to Brooklyn as the throat of New York where all the atrocious things in the world happened. Alfieri settled for half, as when he first arrived in Brooklyn, there was a lot of crime, but now there was only half of what it used to be, which was an improvement. “And my practice is entirely unromantic…
people in this neighborhood lack elegance and glamour… and yet… every year there is still a case, and as the parties tell me what the trouble is, the flat air in my office suddenly washes in with the green scent of the sea, the dust in this air is blown away… ” Alfieri had mentioned that usually his job was boring and mundane where nothing exciting happened. He had to deal with petty family complaints. However, he did get cases which were quite unlike his normal day to day complaints. As he mentioned this fact we could see that the play was going to involve one of those unusual complaints.