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A view from the bridge

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Introduction

Sunday 11th January 2009 Literature Coursework A View From The Bridge By Jana Hannoun 10C In a View From The Bridge, Miller gave considerable thought to the elements of Greek Tragedy. In his essay on social plays, Arthur Miller describes the virtues of Greek drama "for when the Greeks thought of the right ways to live it was a whole concept." What modern drama lacked, wrote Miller, was a sense of the whole man or whole good. This was exemplified by his own behavior during the McCarthy trials, where he refused to name the names of the artists who attended communist support meetings. Miller sought to find the right ultimate law that extended beyond that of the written word. A view from the bridge tries to address this same issue. In the introduction to the play, Miller identified the difficulties of writing a drama that combined the concept of ultimate law with modern living and knowledge. Alfieri was Miller's original solution to these problems. As the narrator, Alfieri objectively observes the Carbone family and articulates the larger, universal meaning and context of Eddie's actions and family conflict. The most visible elements of a Greek Tragedy in this play are Alfieri as a chorus and Eddie as a Euripidean tragic hero - overcome and finally broken by his own self destructive madness. Eddie is weak and powerless in the face of fate. Arthur Miller wrote the play in the late 1940s after World War II when Italy had switched sides from Hitler to Britain and so Germany pounded Italy and left the Italian economy in ruins. ...read more.

Middle

He immediately creates the atmosphere - the atmosphere of Red Hook where crime was once set into the very fabric of the neighborhood. Red Hook is the "slum" area in New York in which the play is set. The social context of this place is of a poor community as Alfieri describes it as "the slum that faces the bay seaward side of Brooklyn Bridge." He comments on that the area "lacks elegance and glamour" and uses phrases such as "the petty troubles of the poor of Sicily." He gives the impression that family honour and respect are important with the Sicilian community and that there is a great distrust of the American law. Miller has underlined the significance of honour and justice by saying ''justice is very important here." As an audience member you realize that this is potentially a key aspect of the play. It subtly creates apprehension about what will inevitably happen. Therefore, Miller has purposely used Alfieri in order to create dramatic irony here where the audience is in possession of more information than other characters on stage. This makes the audience more involved within the production and thus more interested which is the sole aim of all playwrights. Miller slowly engages the audience with Alfieri's dramatic introduction and makes them feel anxious. In his second appearance on page 15 he tells the audience that time has passed. He also, in three sentences, gives an ominous edge to this meeting. ...read more.

Conclusion

This is done most noticeably for all of Alfieri's speeches. In episode eight of the second act Alfieri counsels Eddie to no avail. Alfieri does not repeat his earlier comment on the only law which can help Eddie, but sees that desperation will lead him to betray Marco and Rodolpho, and repeatedly warns him against it. The "darkness" into which he follows Eddie may symbolize Eddie's being in the dark morally and psychologically. The glowing of the phone booth clearly indicates in visual theatrical terms how the idea first occurs to Eddie, then becomes irresistible: he will betray his country men. One could also argue that Alfieri represents the voice of reason and therefore the light in Eddies life, if only he followed it. To conclude Miller uses Alfieri, to explain the themes of justice, the law, loyalty and tragedy; to ensure the audiences understanding and their enjoyment of the play, and to act as a dramatic device which is seen as his role within the 'A View From The Bridge. Arthur Miller has not drawn Alfieri as a 'full' character even though there are times when we sympathize for his predicament of being powerless to stop the events in the tragedy. Alfieri's role is to oversee the action and remains objective throughout. The audience can see, at the end of the play, that Alfieri does have sympathy for Eddie and even soon admiration for him because "he has allowed himself to be wholly known." And there finally, we have Alfieri's most important role. He offers the audience universal concepts to think about as they leave the theatre. ...read more.

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