Examine the Role of Alfieri in the Play. What is the Character's Dramatic Purpose?

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Natalie Tyrer

Examine the Role of Alfieri in the Play. What is the Character’s Dramatic Purpose?

A View from the Bridge has its roots in the late 1940’s when the author, Arthur Miller found that New York’s Brooklyn harbour was a ‘dangerous and mysterious world at the water’s edge that drama and literature had never touched’. The play is set in a New York slum, where the Carbones’ living and dining room is the focus of the action. Eddie Carbone is a fundamentaly simple man, generous in anticipation, awaiting the illegal arrival of his wife, Beatrice’s cousins. He is overprotective of his orphaned niece, Catherine in her increasing maturity. He feels the urge to protect her from discovering her independence, although it is later detected that his feelings for Catherine are somewhat unusual. This makes him increasingly sensitive to the cousins, particularly Rodolfo, to whom Catherine rapidly becomes attracted. It is Catherine and Rodolfo’s planned wedding that finally brings out the aggression in Eddie that makes him call the immigration bureau, after consulting Alfieri who says he should let nature run its course. It is this act of betrayal, which leads to the death of Eddie executed by Marco. Alfieri is the first character whom the audience meets and speaks a recognizable standard American English. He is different to the rest of the characters as he is significantly more educated as well as being an observer. He is a character who listens and analyses a situation, which is probably a skill needed for his employment as a lawyer. The role of Alfieri at the start of the play is to introduce the main themes that the play focuses on, which are justice and law, and the differences separating the two.

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Alfieri’s speeches begin and end the play, as well as appearing at key stages throughout. His speeches use dates and words like ‘he’ when talking about Eddie, as if assuming we understand what he’s talking about, which makes the audience feel more involved. Alfieri’s intended purpose is to be a choric-type figure, as part of Miller’s re-working of Aristotle’s idea of a tragic hero and a Greek chorus. Alfieri’s character suits the way Miller wants the play to be a modern day version of a Greek tragedy in which a central character is led by fate towards a destiny ...

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