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Alfieri is a middle-aged lawyer who has seen his share of clients and listened to their problems as they sought his advice, a Italian-American who understands and has witnessed both countries’ interpretations of law. Having been brought up in the Sicilian way where pride and honour predominate, and being an exponent of American law he also respects how civilised American law is. Alfieri acts as the narrator of ‘A View From The Bridge’, similar in many ways to the choruses found in ancient Greek tragedies, who used to comment on the plays at regular intervals.
Alfieri likewise recounts this story to us (in which he plays a part) and reflects on the actions of the characters and the obviousness of the outcome. Eddie had always lived by the Italian law but saw its helplessness when dealing with Rudolpho. Hoping that he could use American law to stop Rudolpho marrying Catherine, Eddie visits Alfieri to ask his advice and to see what could be done about Rudolpho.
After meeting with Eddie, Alfieri knew what Eddie would do but ‘was so powerless to stop it.
‘ Alfieri also realizes Eddie’s shameful agenda that he tries to disguise by protesting that he is looking out for Catherine. Alfieri is aware of his limitations as a lawyer, recognizing the fact that no legal system delivers absolute justice for only God can give that. Neither is he deluded into thinking that the American legal system solves all of peoples’ personal problems. However he knows that Eddie will stop at nothing to make sure that Rudolpho does not have Catherine, and indeed that no one else has her.
By being himself and disregarding what other people thought of him to get what he wanted, Alfieri grows to respect Eddie. By the end of the play Alfieri reflects on how easily Eddie could have avoided his fate. He realises that Eddie pursued his fate because although he knew that he would have to pay the price to get Catherine, he wanted her so badly he charged on, accepting what came. Alfieri says that it is better to compromise between getting what you want and what you can have.
As a Sicilian-American he has ‘settled for half’ and accepted American justice as a way of life because it is safer for him to do so. Yet Eddie will not ‘settle for half’ letting himself to be known as he truly was. So what we are left with is an honourable, concerned, intelligent man sympathising with a man who turned his back on everything he knew – his wife, his way of life, his honour and his life-in the vain hope that he could keep his niece for himself.
Like a hero in a modern tragedy, Eddie is a strong character who is destroyed by his weakness-Catherine. As the only character who can reflect on the play’s events objectively, Alfieri realizes that Eddie’s death must seve as a reminder to others to ‘settle for half. ‘ However his alarm stems from the fact that while this will keep you safer if you follow this code, ultimately it means compromising peoples’ hopes, desires and sense of justice.
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