Cultural context of the play Essay
Cultural context of the play
How does Miller use the character of Alfieri to involve the audience and illustrate the cultural context of the play? Alfieri is used in a multitude of ways by Miller to help the play at various stages. He is a character in the play, which other characters interact with, however, he is displaced somewhat because he comments on the goings on of the play, expands on what has happened to make it clearer to the audience, links scenes together and to a certain extent takes the role of a narrator. The character of Alfieri as a lawyer is wisely chosen.
Lawyers at that time were seen as a sign of bad luck as with priests, because they were symbols of the law and “law has not been a friendly idea since the Greeks were beaten”. This shows that Alfieri does not always bring good news and often brings about the things that people do not want to hear, like when Eddie goes to him and asks what he can do to get rid of Marco and Alfieri tells him that there is nothing he can do. The majority of characters in this play are immigrants who have tried to make a living by living in America so at one point or another they would have wanted to avoid the law.
Alfieri being a lawyer also shows us how he is above the other immigrants as they are still uneducated, living lives of hard labour using colloquiums such as “yiz” which indicates a lack of control or status. However, Alfieri is educated and now has status. The language he uses is so much more formal than that of Beatrice or Eddie. Although Alfieri have status he may not have real respect, just the grudging respect for his status. Others do not see him as one of them , “see how uneasily they nod to me”.
Realistically, Alfieri is the only one of them who has achieved the American Dream, worked his way form poverty to having a good life. Arthur Miller himself was the son of an immigrant and he supported himself through college by working on the docks, so he knew where to come from when writing about the hardships and unreliability of living a life like Eddies. In the area and time that the play is set, the rules of community, the code of honour, is more important than the state laws. Disobeying these unwritten laws and betraying the community could result in ostracization.
As with Romeo and Juliet this play features people breaking the family laws, then being suitably punished for it. The issues in this play are ones that have been studied before and will be used again due to the fact that they are still relevant. You will always have people that want to do something that is not against the law but going against traditions in their communities and will often cause them a worse fate then if they were breaking a state law. People can relate to disobeying these community rules. Alfieri’s prologue introduces the play.
He sets the scene and tells us a bit about the history and culture of where the play is set, where men where “justly shot by unjust men”. He also says in his epilogue that people now “settle for half… we are quite civilized, quite American”. With statements like that you can tell that uncivilized things are going to happen. The opposite of how people are now will come out, the real them. Alfieri also tells us that what we are about to see is not just an ordinary one of his cases, and not simply the “petty troubles of the poor”. Not only in Alfieri’s prologue does he give us hints to what will happen in the play.
Ina act one when Eddie goes to Alfieri and asks what he can do to get Rodolpho out, Alfieri says that Eddie must let go of Catherine and let her live her own life “because after all -what other way can it end? ” he is almost predicting that if Eddies protective behaviour continues then it shall end in a bad way. The epilogue, also delivered by Alfieri helps us to understand things better as well. After all the commotion and high emotions of Eddies death, Alfieri is there, calm and collected as ever and gives us enough of an explanation to get us thinking, but also one that lets us make our own minds up.
It offers a sense of rounding off. Alfieri reminds us f why we first liked Eddie, and talks of what a good character he was and how we will all like him far more than Alfieri’s “sensible clients”. Eddie died because he did what he wanted to and Alfieri can see the strength in this action, however, believes it is “better to settle for half” in order to survive and for there to be peace. Once again, as in the prologue Alfieri is at ease with us the audience. He is relaxed and allowing himself to be honest, to say what he really thinks.
Alfieri comments are almost like what you would do to yourself in your head when analyzing or thinking something over. He is going through his thoughts in an almost soliloquy type way. When I went to see the play A View form a Bridge in the Questors theatre in Ealing the role of Alfieri was show to just as much the boob that he was in the svincter . if your happy and you know it clap your hands (clap clap) alice the camel had 95 humps…. ride alice ride du du dum cheesh. Im but a little bit bit bit bit show but a little bit bit bit shame but a little bit bit bit , bit bit bit.
Peters pepper picked another pickle bearing pussy pepper raaah!!! Vivadixiesubmarine transmitionplot I think that Alfieri is a very good character to have in the play as he manages to fill in all the gaps where extra explanation is needed, such as after scenes. He also acts as an unofficial scene changer, and marks when time has passed or the setting is different. As well as all of this he also points people in the direction of doing things. If it was not for him telling Eddie that the only way he could get rid of Rodolpho was to phone immigration then he would not of thought of it.