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How does Miller present the character of Alfieri in `A View from the
Bridge' and what is his significance in the play?
Alfieri's main function in the play is that of the chorus. He is used in a similar manner to
the chorus in Greek plays as he carries the story forward as a kind of narrator. He
represents the view from the bridge and he is telling that view to the audience.
Miller uses Alfieri's narrator role to set the scene at the beginning of the play. He
introduces the two of the main themes of the play, law and justice, to the audience as he
mentions that `the law has not been a friendly idea' to the area's inhabitants and `justice
is very important' to the community. This prepares the audience for the development
and the importance of these ideas throughout the play. He also creates anticipation for
the audience as he says that the issue will `run its bloody course,' foreshadowing
In his opening monologue, Alfieri is also presented as a very honest character when he
tells the audience that he `no longer keeps a pistol in his filing cabinet.' This is important
because the audience come to trust Alfieri throughout the play and Miller uses this trust
to influence our views of Eddie. Throughout the play Alfieri defends Eddie, for example
`he was a good man' and `Eddie Carbone had never expected' the events. This gives
the audience a broad overview of Eddie's character which means that they are more
sympathetic to him when he dies.
Alfieri distances us from the action of the play through phrases such as `in some
Caesar's year, in Calabria' which tells the audience that the issue is not solely within the
play and has happened before. This reminds the audience that the play is actually fiction
but that the issues within the play are real.
He is also presented as an experienced man as he talks about his memories of `Al
Capone' and `Frankie Yale' but also about his business experience. He refers to `the
compensation cases, evictions, family squabbles' and `the petty troubles of the poor.'
This indicates that he is a very good lawyer, yet even he was `powerless.' This explains
to the audience that Eddie's fate is inevitable and Alfieri emphasises this later on when
he mentions Eddie's `destiny,' telling us that nothing could be have been done to stop
Miller also uses Alfieri to pass time within the play. With each interlude Alfieri mentions
that time has passed. For example, it was `toward ten o'clock of that night' when the
cousins arrived and `as the weeks passed there was a future.' This increases tension
for the audience as the conflict within the flat rises as time passes.
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Alfieri is used to show the change in Eddie as he mentions his `eyes were like tunnels'
and he was `like a stranger' the first time he visited his office, even though he had met
him before. This informs the audience that Eddie has changed since the beginning of
the play, foreshadowing the further change that will happen to Eddie.…read more