A View from the Bridge


Major characters


Mr. Alfieri:


Although he actually takes part in a number of the scenes, Mr. Alfieri acts very much like the narrator to this play, filling in the audience on the background, bridging gaps between scenes and talking them through the story. The technical name for a narrator like this is a ‘Chorus’ and Miller borrowed this idea from Ancient Greek Theatre. The fact that Alfieri directly addresses the audience creates a closer, more human connection between the audience and characters on stage and thus heightens the tension.


The Ancient Greek playwrights are famous for writing tragedies and, because Miller’s play is a modern tragedy, it is fitting that he included a chorus-like character. With regard to ‘A View from the Bridge’ there are two key characteristics of tragedy that need to be remembered. Firstly, there is often a sense of inevitability about the downfall of the hero; it’s almost as if, whatever the hero does they couldn’t have escaped their fate. Secondly, it is often the case that the downfall of the hero is brought about by some kind of ‘fatal flaw’ in their character or personality.


Alfieri contributes to the first of these two important ideas by narrating the story to us in past tense from the perspective of the future: Eddie is introduced with the phrase ‘This one’s name was Eddie Carbone.’ It is as if the events of the play have already happened and Alfieri is just conjuring the story to life before us. As such, in a sense, there is no chance for Eddie to avoid his death even from the start of the play: he has already died and Alfieri just hasn’t got to that part in the story yet. This sense of inevitability is emphasised by Alfieri’s occasionally comments about his powerlessness and his lament that often he simply has to sit back and let things ‘run [there] bloody course.]


Alfieri contributes to the second of these ideas by acting almost as Eddie’s conscience and confronting him explicitly with the internal contradictions and fatal flaws that will eventually force Eddie to betray Marco and Rodolpho and lose his life. Alfieri makes it clear that Eddie can’t betray Beatrice’s cousins without losing his honour and incurring the wrath of his friends, neighbours and family (a thought that is clearly running through Eddie’s mind). He also explicitly confronts Eddie with the fact that he has ‘too much love for the niece.’ which is why he will be unable to accept a marriage between her and Rodolpho. However there is no way to legally prevent Rodolpho marrying Catherine without betraying him to the Immigration Department and, even if Rodolpho was removed from the scene, Alfieri knows Eddie can never have a relationship with Catherine and that he has to ‘let her go.’ Hence Eddie’s predicament.


Finally, the name Alfieri is the name of an Italian playwright (Count Vittoro Alfieri) famous for writing tragedies that borrowed ideas from the Ancient Greeks, just like Miller has done here.



Page No




Lawyers are ‘only thought of in connection with disasters.’




‘In Sicily, where their fathers are from, the law has not been a friendly idea since the Greeks were beaten.’




‘I am inclined to notice ruin in things’




‘Now we are quite civilized. Quite American. Now we settle for half, and I like it better. I no longer keep a pistol in my filing cabinet … And my practice is entirely unromantic’




Alfieri feels a connection to the past, sometimes getting the sensation that, at one time ‘another lawyer, quite differently dressed, heard the same complaint and sat there as powerless as I, and watched it run its bloody course.’




‘Eddie Carbone had never expected to have a destiny. A man works, raises his family, goes bowling, eats, gets old, and then he dies. Now , as the weeks passed, there was a future and there was a trouble that would not go away.




When Eddie says he knows that Rodolpho is only marrying Catherine to ‘get his papers’, Alfieri says ‘I am a lawyer, Eddie. I can only deal in what’s provable.’




‘The law is very specific.’ ‘The law does not …’ ‘You have no recourse in the law, Eddie.’ ‘There’s nothing you can do.’




Alfieri confronts Eddie with the truth ‘Sometimes … there’s too much [love] … and it goes where it mustn’t. There’s too much love for the daughter, there’s too much love for the niece.’


‘The child has to grow up and go away and the man has to learn to forget. Because, after all, Eddie – what other way can it end. [Pause]


Let her go.’




‘There are times when you want to spread an alarm, but nothing has happened. I knew, I knew then and there – I could have finished the whole story that afternoon. It wasn’t as though there was a mystery to unravel. I could see every step coming, step after step, like a dark figure walking down a corridor towards a certain door. I knew where he was heading for, I knew where he was going to end.’




‘I normally go home well before six, but that day I sat around looking out my window at the bay, and when I saw him walking through my doorway, I knew why I had waited.’


‘And if I seem to tell this like a dram, it was that way. Several moments arrived in the course of the two talks we had when it occurred to me how – almost transfixed I had come to feel. I had lost my strength somewhere



‘This is my last word, Eddie, take it or not, that’s your business. Morally and legally you have no rights, you cannot stop it; she is a free agent.’




‘The law is nature. The law is only a word for what is right to happen …[this] river will drown you if you buck it now.




‘You won’t have a friend in the world, Eddie! Even those who understand will turn against you, even the ones who feel the same will despise you!’




To Marco, when bailing him out of jail ‘You’re an honourable man, I will believe your promise.’




‘Most of the time now we settle for half and I like it better. But the truth is holy, and even as I know how wrong he was, and his death useless, I tremble, for I confess that something perversely pure calls to me from his memory – nor purely good, but himself purely, for he allowed himself to be wholly known and for that I think that I will love him more than all my sensible clients. And yet, it is better to settle for half, it must be! And so I mourn him – I admit it – with a certain … alarm.’