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A View from the Bridge: Diverse Cultures Essay.

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Introduction

A View from the Bridge: Diverse Cultures Essay Matt Wilson 10-1 " A lawyer means the law, and in Sicily, from where their father came, the law has not been a friendly idea since the Greeks were beaten - But this is Red Hook, not Sicily. This is the slum that faces the bay on the seaward side of Brooklyn Bridge. This is the Gullet of New York swallowing the tonnage of the world..." This is an extract from a speech made by the character of Mr.Alfieri in Arthur Miller's 1955 play A View from the Bridge. This quote is definitive of the character, and a vital theme in the entire play. Alfieri is a Sicilian, but has lived in Red Hook since before the days of Al Capone and Frankie Yale. He is a perfect amalgamation of two cultures, and the overall impression that we are given is that Alfieri is a man who knows the balance between these two sides of his personality. Alfieri's role in the play is unique among many other modern scripts. He has two roles in the play. Firstly he is a character; a lawyer mixed in with Eddie Carbone and the events leading to his self-destruction. Secondly he is a narrator, not dissimilar to a Greek Chorus of old, who watches and speaks over the events to the audience. ...read more.

Middle

No wide streets?" It becomes apparent that the more American of the characters are openly quite ashamed of their Sicilian roots. Contrasting the above, even the immigrants (Rodolpho in particular) seem eager to "Become Americans" so they can live in the fabulous land of opportunity. Alfieri overtaking Eddie at the laters native tongue shows just how attractive the American dream can appear, even causing one to forget ones language in desperation to fit in. The entire play seems designed to do this: to demonstrate the destructive power and outright lie of the 'American Dream'. At the very start of the play, in Alfieri's introduction he describes New York as "A gullet swallowing the tonnage of the world". This is quite an unpleasant metaphor to describe something that American spin-doctors would describe as a beautiful process. Arthur Miller likely chose this metaphor very carefully, as it reflects on his true views of America at the time, a garbage can, full of the dregs of society that the rest of the world did not want. These feelings of disgust at modern American society flow through the play, making their presence known without ever clouding the development of story or character. Eddies entire fall from grace is hurried along by one major factor. Marco and Rodolpho moving into his house and Rodolpho's blossoming relationship with Catherine is the catalyst in Eddie loosing his sanity. ...read more.

Conclusion

Now we begin to see Alfieri as Arthur Miller likely intended. He is both Sicilian and American, a lawyer and friend to Eddie Carbone, a character and a Narrator of sorts. His roles in this play are numerous and complex, all playing across one another like a jigsaw. But it is clear from all we have seen that Arthur Miller did not intend Alfieri as a character, rather a statement. Millers' apparent lack of decision about Alfieri's true role is deliberate, as he is a metaphor to appeal to all people who read or watch with play. As Alfieri watches over Eddies self destruction he maintains his professional distance, regardless of how he feels, he is "Powerless to stop the events running their own bloody course." This shows just how distanced from his clients Alfieri feels, and corresponds with his earlier statement that he cannot relate with the people: "The people in this neighbourhood lack glamour. After all, whom have I dealt with all my life? Longshoremen and their wives, the petty squabbles of the poor." But then we see how American Alfieri has become, and how the struggles between his heritage and his home have left him a walking paradox, and Arthur Miller's statement becomes apparent. Alfieri is not watching from 'the bridge' as earlier stated. He is the metaphorical bridge from the title, the link in-between two cultures. ...read more.

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