Why does Miller include the characters Alfieri in

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By Matthew Benyayer

Why does Miller include the characters Alfieri in “A View From A Bridge?”

The character Alfieri has a very important role in the play “ A View From The Bridge.” Alfieri acts both as a narrator and commentator but his main function is to offer ideas to the audience to set them thinking about the message of the play.

Alfieri is a character in the play and yet his advice is objective and sympathetic. Alfieri is the first character to speak in the play; he therefore sets the scene and informs the audience the background to the action. He is a lawyer but in this area of Brooklyn the people distrust the law, he tells us “A lawyer means the law, and in Sicily, from where their fathers come, the law has not been a friendly idea since the Greeks were beaten”. This speech immediately sets up tension between Alfieri, a representative of written law and the Italian immigrant community, who prefer to follow their own ‘law’, the Italian law of natural justice!

Alfieri was born in Italy and tells us in his first speech that “I only came here when I was twenty-five.” Because he grew up in Italy, Alfieri understands the other characters very well. They are all Italian immigrants and have a very similar background. The audience understands how fatalistic Alfieri is when he says “another lawyer…. sat there as powerless as I, and watched it run its bloody course.” He is telling the audience that he can sense that a terrible event is about to happen but knows he is powerless to prevent this. He understands that in such a community it is better to “settle for half.” Alfieri is a realist who is prepared to make a compromise between two cultures. He knows that there will always be injustice no matter how hard he tries to help the citizens of Red Hook. He is happy that he “no longer needs to keep a gun in my filing cabinet.” Alfieri acts as a witness to the events as they happen and he makes comments on what has occurred or what is about to happen. Alfieri tells us that the people of Red Hook “lack elegance and glamour,” and that he has to deal with their “petty troubles.” But on this occasion something important is about to happen but there is nothing that he can do to prevent a tragedy. The only thing he can do is that he won’t be able to stop “sat there powerless as I, and watched it run its bloody course.”

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Alfieri’s opening speech has a conversational style and when he says, “you wouldn’t have known it, but something amusing has just happened,” he immediately draws the audience into the play. From the beginning, the audience must think about the issues which Miller feels are important, for example Italian immigrants and how they are treated by American law in New York as well as examining human nature and how Italians react to conflicts. Alfieri’s use of the pronoun “you” in his opening lines not only involves the audience but emphasise that he will act as a kind of mediator between ...

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