A View From The Bridge: Alfieri As A Representative Of Morality

  • Words 1412
  • Pages 3
Download PDF

Alfieri is Sicilian but has been an American for the past 25 years, working as a lawyer. A View From The Bridge was written and published in 1955 by Arthur Miller. I think Miller presents Alfieri as a well educated, sophisticated person who is singled out because of how educated he is compared to the people in his neighbourhood, Alfieri is a lawyer who narrates the play from his point of view. Alfieri serves as a chorus and narrator as well as a character in the play. In his opening monologue, Alfieri breaks the 4th wall many times which involves the audience and draws them to the situation. Also, In the opening monologue, we see how separate he is from his location. We see how he is the presentation of the bridge. In his first meeting with Eddie, we recognise his perception. This meeting also emphasises his role as the Greek chorus. At the end of the play, we are impressed by the sympathy he shows to Eddie. This essay will show how these appearances make Alfieri essential for the message.

Miller introduces Red Hook to the Audience by letting Alfieri explain to us what kind of neighbourhood Red Hook is. Alfieri describes Red Hook as a packed place full of very poor people: ” This is the slum that faces the bay on the seaward side of the Brooklyn Bridge. This is the gullet of New York swallowing the tonnage of the world.” The ‘s’ sibilance marks a shift into more lyrical language, reflecting the sound of the sea. The use of the word ‘Tonnage’ is hyperbole to emphasize the huge number of people who live in this area. The word ‘swallowing’ is personification to show that the area is not selecting the people that are inhabiting it; without selection, we would assume that the people are probably uneducated and possibly criminals.

Click to get a unique essay

Our writers can write you a new plagiarism-free essay on any topic

At that time areas of New York were synonymous with Italian immigrants. Red Hook was filled with many Italians who entered the country illegally after the second world war. Because after the second World War, Italy was damaged and jobs were not as good as they used to be. This explains to us why so many poor Italians fled their country to go to the “land of opportunity” but the only way they could enter America is illegal which would cause anyone entering the country to get sent back from where they came from. Miller shows the readers what kind of neighbourhood Red Hook is and the kind of people living there. By emphasizing the lack of quality through the society Miller emphasizes the separation of Alfieri. Furthermore, Alfieri tells us that he used to keep a pistol with him but now he does not since Red Hook became more civilized and “American.”This is illustrated when Alfieri says “I no longer keep a pistol in my filing cabinet.” This emphasizes that Red Hook is not the safest neighbourhood in New York and is dangerous. The juxtaposed symbolism of the pistol and filing cabinet portrays how Alfieri incorporates both sides of society. The pistol clearly stands for the Italian immigrant society which is based around an archaic law. The filing cabinet stands for this civilized American way.

Within the opening monologue, Alfieri becomes extremely trustworthy to the audience. He breaks the fourth wall and talks to the audience directly, this is evident throughout the play when he repeatedly uses direct addresses like: ‘You wouldn’t have known it…’ This immediately establishes him as the audience’s guide to events, recalling the role of the chorus in classical drama. The word ‘You’ tells us that he is talking with the audience in the second person, this builds up trust and intimacy. We as an audience are interpreting the play through Alfieri’s eyes. Because he is telling the whole play as a flashback we recognise the fact that he can use hindsight. His ability to see things with perspective emphasises the idea that he is looking at the situation as if he is ‘The View from the Bridge’ and is detached and omniscient from the rest.

The next time Alfieri is seen on stage is when Eddie goes to him for advice. Alfieri is presented as an observant character who can perceive things immediately. This is illustrated when he says about Eddie: “ his eyes were like tunnels”.The simile ‘like tunnels” is suggesting an object that we are able to see through. Alfieri is informing us that he can see through the exterior of Eddie’s body and see into his soul. Alfieri recognizes the inappropriate feelings that Eddie has towards his niece. Although Beatrice has concerns over Eddie, Alfieri is the first character in the play that recognises these feelings. Even Eddie is unaware of his true feelings towards Catherine. 

In the introduction of act 2, Alfieri reappears as the chorus. Miller used dreams extensively throughout his work, most famously in Death of a Salesman In this play, Alfieri’s dreams show the predictability of events this is evident when Alfieri says “ if i seem to tell this like a dream, it was that way”.This shows us how Alfieri is commenting on his own ineffectiveness to influence the course of events.The dream simile tells us that all actions are involuntary because the future can’t be changed.Additionally, as the chorus, Alfieri unifies the action and builds tension by using motifs. This is illustrated by “ Dark….. Tunnels.” A tunnel is a route where you can’t turn around.Eddie’s future is planned out for him. He can’t turn around or change direction. The chorus is aware that the protagonist’s fate can not be changed despite all attempts that the chorus makes in trying to change the future, this reflects the classical tragic tradition

In Alfieri’s second meeting with Eddie, Alfieri gives more of an emotional advice rather than practical advice. This is evident when he states “ Even those who understand will turn against you, even the ones who feel the same will despise you!” This shows us the conflict between law and justice. Although law and justice can be considered as very similar meanings, Miller is emphasizing a difference between them. Law might be considered the American way and Alfieri as an American lawyer would be obliged to provide Eddie with this advice. Justice might be seen as the Italian way and though not strictly lawful would be moral. As Alfieri is now stressing justice over a law he has moved from the position of a lawyer to a spiritual advisor. The scene echoes the opening monologue where Alfieri references lawyers and priests on the streets. It could be described that Alfieri is now advising Eddie as a priest rather than a lawyer.

Bailing with the brothers- Alfieri has a pivotal role in a moment in the drama when he bails out Marco and Rodolfo from jail.

Finally, when we last see Alfieri we see the sympathy that he shows for Eddie. This is evident when he says “Most of the time now we settle for half and i like it better.” This verdict is given with irony as ultimately Alfieri and Arthur Miller do not believe that life should be moderated. Alfieri believes that life would be dull and boring if people didn’t follow their passions and ambitions. Alfieri is criticizing society by suggesting that most people live life without passion or ambition. Although he is disgusted by Eddie’s behavior and actions he recognizes that Eddie possessed something that most of society does not possess. Moreover, the constant pauses in sentences within the epilogue adds to the powerful effect: “And so I mourn him-I admit it-with a certain…alarm.” The phrase causes tension and suspense. The use of ellipses proves that Alfieri is being cautious and careful with what he says as he is a professional lawyer. Although he is being careful with his language, the pauses show that he is consulting his heart. This makes him sound authentic and true. It leaves us with a powerful response.

By giving Alfieri so many attributes, Miller has made him our moral compass within the play. We are reminded that morality is not something that can be handed down by a societal code. We have to discover our own morality for ourselves. It seems that Alfieri’s moral code is based on that of Miller’s because there are so many similarities between the two men. They are both educated men who experienced living in locations that were run on an antiquated moral code rather than American law.  


We use cookies to give you the best experience possible. By continuing we’ll assume you board with our cookie policy.