How Does Athur Miler Use Alfieri to Enhance the Audience’s Enjoyment and Understanding of the Play and Its Key Themes?

Topics: Italian American, All My Sons, Drama Pages: 7 (2526 words) Published: March 20, 2012

Arthur Miller’s ‘A View From The Bridge’ is a great play set in the run down area of Brooklyn, New York, a community in Red Hook, during the 1950s. It explores the themes of justice, unnatural love, codes of society and respect. The play focuses on the jealousy the protagonist, Eddie Carbone, exerts towards his wife’s illegally immigrated Italian cousins, Marco and Rodolpho, due to his passionate feelings for his own niece, Catherine, consequently ending with his life. The key events of the play are all very reasonable and typical in reflection to the time it was written. The disastrous aftermath of World War Two and the Great Depression left people with one dream; the American dream. To escape their less economically developed country and lead a better life many travelled to America. Italians suffered most excruciatingly hence it is they who went through mass migration, but lead it a better life they did not. Confrontation with suspicious Americans and intense hardship only crippled their self-esteem and lead them to be more independent. In ‘A View From The Bridge’ we witness how this period of time effected and shaped the behaviour of characters in the play. Arthur Miller uses Alfieri to make the play much easier to understand and enjoyable for us, the audience. In this essay I am going to analyse how exactly this has been done.

Arthur Miller cleverly uses Alfieri in a number of ways. Alfieri is the narrator; Alfieri plays a character; and Alfieri is a good example of what some call a Greek Chorus. He is our narrator and plays the role of an Italian-American lawyer which makes us expect his words to be truthful. Alfieri also very effectively helps distinguish scenes, expand on characters and make the play more explicit, just as a Greek Chorus would do in old Greek tragedies. Doing this allows us to understand and follow up on the play, its themes and events.

“…In Sicily, from where their fathers came, the law has not been a friendly idea since the Greeks were beaten…Justice is very important here”: Alfieri’s opening monologue, Act 1; he is the Greek Chorus. Alfieri gives us some background information on Red Hook and its neighbourhood, allowing the audience to form an impression on the characters and their morals. Having knowledge on the circumstances explored in the play, what with the illegal immigration, this line in the monologue can infer one of two things: the Italians in Red Hook cannot turn to the law because they are illegal immigrants, or the Italians will not turn to the law due their lack of trust as a result of their Italian customs. Either way, since turning to the law is never going to be the answer, the obvious way to gain justice is for the law to be taken into the people’s hands. Knowing this helps us, the audience, understand why certain events take place later on in the play. We understand Marco is an immigrant and therefore understand why he uses violence to enforce justice against Eddie for his actions. The theme of justice is introduced here.

Eddie Carbone’s death at the end of the play came as no surprise to us all. Alfieri had already told us from the beginning that he sat there and “watched it run its bloody course…this one’s name was Eddie Carbone’’. Eddie Carbone will die, but in no ordinary way; he will be murdered which we can indicate from Alfieri mentioning “bloody course”. Alfieri put great emphasis on the fact that the people of Red Hook take justice into their own hands in his opening monologue which, if we put two and two together, must mean that Eddie’s blood will be spilt for one’s justice. This time Arthur Miller uses Alfieri to really hook, and keep us hooked, in the play. Us knowing that Eddie will be murdered before it actually happens means that we, the audience, know more than the characters. Throughout the play, no matter what turn of event...
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