How does Miller use the character of Alfieri to manipulate the audience? Essay
How does Miller use the character of Alfieri to manipulate the audience?
How does Miller use the character of Alfieri to manipulate the audience? What is his attitude to the events of the play?
Miller portrays Alfieri as the symbolic bridge between the Italian and American cultures. Alfieri is seen to appreciate the traditional Italian customs yet he also abides by and respects American law. This causes sympathy for him as he is caught between the two paths and has to choose between them. This brings up a theme of the play; choosing between doing the right thing or being true to your feelings. Alfieri can sympathise with Eddie but he can not do anything about the situation that Eddie is in, as the law can not help him and he is not in a position where he is able to help.
Miller uses Alfieri as a narrator in ‘A View from the Bridge; Miller has based Alfieri’s role in the play on the idea of a Greek Chorus. The main purpose of the Chorus was to begin and end the action that takes place in the play, as well as to link the different parts of the play together so it runs smoothly. This is one of the purposes Miller gives Alfieri in the play.
Miller establishes a relationship between Alfieri and the audience, by having Alfieri speak directly to the audience. As he is the only character who addresses the audience directly, they feel closer to him than to any other character. Through Alfieri, Miller is able to influence what the audience think of certain characters at different points throughout the play. For instance in reference to Eddie, Alfieri says that “He was as good a man as he had to be in a life that was hard and even”. This description of Eddie directly influences the audiences’ opinion of Eddie. Miller can also manipulate the audience into feeling different things for characters, for instance creating sympathy for Eddie at the end of the play, “I confess that something perversely pure calls to me … so I mourn him …”
Alfieri also influences the audience by the way he explains certain events in the play. Alfieri provides commentary on what is happening in the play as well as providing his own opinion. The audience is influenced by his words as they have a close relationship with him. When Alfieri talks to the audience he is much more relaxed and talks about his private life as if he was talking to a close friend or relative. He is much more open as he is not being consulted as a professional, “I no longer keep a pistol in my filing cabinet.”
This is not a subject that would come up when talking to someone who you have just met. This adds to the closeness the audience feel with Alfieri. However during his talks with Eddie he tries to be un-biased and give sound advice but he can not help but to like Eddie. This is because something about Eddie’s character and his actions appeal to him, not taking into account how self-centred or selfish theses actions are, “Give me the number of the Immigration Bureau”. Eddie reporting on Marco and Rodolfo is done for selfish reasons, but Alfieri admires it as he acted without hiding behind a superficial faï¿½ade due to his simplistic nature.
Miller gives Eddie a person to confide in, someone he can look to for sound advice; a fatherly figure, when he created Alfieri. Alfieri serves multiple purposes throughout the play. During the play most of what Alfieri says is directed towards the audience or towards Eddie, this shows the audience that Alfieri is detached from the actual action happening in the play and can not directly influence what is going to take place. He is seen to omniscient, Alfieri can be seen as the person looking down from a vantage point on top of the bridge from where he can see everything but affect nothing.
When Eddie goes to Alfieri for advice various times throughout the play, we can see that he feels he can express his feelings a bit better, but he is almost always disappointed as Alfieri only gives him advice that he feels is not right and there must be better solutions. In the end even this helpful advice is not enough to stop the events that befall Eddie. However this is subjective as, if Eddie had followed this advice it is unlikely that he would have had such a tragic demise. Events followed a tragic path because only Eddie holds the true power to stop things from happening the way they did. This is his fatal flaw.
Alfieri’s inability to change the events, affects him deeply and he feels powerless and desperate as he can see how events will turn out and the one person who could change this; Eddie, is too set in his ways and does not heed his advice. When Eddie comes to Alfieri in Act Two he is described as having eyes “like tunnels”, the effect of the state of his eyes on Alfieri is that he seriously contemplates calling the police. This also shows Alfieri’s desperation as he is willing to turn to drastic measure to stop events, however he does not call the police and therefore events carry on as they were.
There are some similarities between the advice Alfieri gives to Eddie and Marco even though they are two very different people with different temperaments and personalities. The gist of the advice he gives them, is that the law can not help them in the situation they are in, and it is better to “let it go”. The advice he gives them is what they should follow if they want to do the right thing, but it is not what each of them want to hear so they do not heed it.
At the end of the play Miller, through Alfieri causes sympathy for Eddie and shows the audience Eddie’s redeeming quality, his love for his family and being “himself purely” in his actions even if his actions are not purely good. Alfieri can not help but to be drawn to Eddie and this causes internal conflict within him because he is torn between being true to his roots or to abide by the laws of the country in which he resides in. Alfieri whilst being omniscient is also impotent; this is a major contributing factor to the tragic demise of Eddie and the tragic ending of the play.