How Does Miller Use Alfieri To Inspire Sympathy For Eddie?

2328 words - 9 pages

How does Miller use Alfieri to inspire Sympathy for Eddie?

How successful is he?

In his play “A View from the Bridge”, Arthur Miller intends us to feel
sympathy towards the protagonist, Eddie Carbone. Miller wants the
audience to view Eddie positively, however Eddie displays negative
personality traits like aggression, violence and over-protectiveness
therefore there is a conflict between how Miller wants us to feel,
that Eddie is a tragic hero, and how he actually does behave. The
narrator Alfieri is deployed to often defend or explain Eddie’s
actions. After Eddie has shown a negative characteristic, Alfieri is
deployed to get the audience back on Eddie’s side. Without Alfieri,
the audience would dislike Eddie and would immediately reject him. The
audience’s views towards Eddie are constantly shifting throughout the
play.

Miller, like many playwrights, was influenced by Greek theatre.
Alfieri’s role is similar to the way the chorus operated in Greek
tragedy because he comments on the action throughout the play. Our
first impressions of Alfieri are positive. In the ancillary text, he
is described as,

“a lawyer in his fifties”

which suggests that he is an educated and mature man. Alfieri is well
dressed in a suit and is very well mannered. It is extremely important
that the audience likes and trusts Alfieri if he is to influence the
audience’s views of Eddie during the play. This is why Alfieri is
dressed smartly and looks experienced right at the beginning of the
play. He speaks directly to the audience in an approachable and
friendly way using the personal pronoun “you” which shows that he is
trying to build a rapport with the audience right from the start of
the play. Alfieri is articulate and trustworthy so the audience will
listen to him. Miller places Alfieri’s office “at the right,
forestage” because he wants Alfieri to be able to communicate easily
with the audience and become a bridge between the audience and the
characters. In Alfieri’s first speech, Eddie’s past is mentioned so
that the audience will understand that Eddie is a product of his
cultural background. We are told that Eddie was part of an Italian
community in Sicily where there were Italian family values and
traditions, which Eddie was used to. Also in Sicily, there is their
own code of law which meant it would have been extremely violent and
brutal, there would of been no work available and many people would of
been deprived and poor. This confuses Eddie when he comes to America
where there was a different law. Eddie lives in,

“the slum that faces the bay on the seaward side of Brooklyn Bridge”

which shows that he suffers poverty like all Italian Immigrants in Red
Hook in Brooklyn. Eddie migrated from Sicily, where the conditions
were even worse, looking for work and a better life in America, the
so-called land of opportunity.

What he arrived in was a hostile and racist community towards Italian
Immigrants due to...

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