Compare and contrast the role of Alfieri and Dysart in 'A View from the Bridge' and 'Equus'.


In the play, .Equus・, Peter Shaffer uses the role of Dysart to explore the moral dilemma associated with his practice as a psychologist. Similarly, Arthur Miller uses the character of Alfieri in .A View from the Bridge・ (.View・) to examine the moral dilemma affiliated with his profession as a lawyer. Both Alfieri and Dysart struggle between the two conflicting ideologies tied to their respective practices and this causes the audience to question their own value systems. However, this struggle is more inherent in the character of Dysart than Alfieri, as it is referred to throughout the play. Dysart and Alfieri also serve the purpose of garnering appreciation and admiration from the audience for those who engage in their passion through their interaction with their respective protagonists, Alan Strang and Eddie Carbone. Ultimately,  the role of Dysart in .Equus・ is the more successful, as the audience is able to asses and question both ideologies fairly, as Dysart seems to be truly caught in the middle of both ideologies, and Dysart・s transparent envy of Alan throughout the play enables the audience to better understand and even adopt this same admiration.


Through the character of Dysart, Peter Shaffer urges his audience to question the values of normalcy versus insanity through the character・s own apparent struggle between the values, which arise in his interactions with his patient, Alan. Dysart understands the hold of normalcy in society but he also understands the value of insanity- to be passionate and individualistic. While normalcy is safe it is also dull, In Dysart・s words:  :The normal is the good smile in a child・s eye- all right. It is also the dead stare in a million adults.; And while insanity is dangerous, it also enables one to live fully, passionately and have a sense of individuality, :I have cut from them parts of individuality repugnant to this God.; Therefore Shaffer・s employment of the character Dysart serves the purpose of presenting the audience with a moral dilemma and in this way challenging the audience to question their own value systems.


Similarly, the role of Alfieri in .View・, presents the audience with a moral dilemma associated with the character・s profession. In Alfieri・s case, this moral dilemma is the question of justice. Although Alfieri follows the law when it comes to justice and says that he :likes it better;, he admits that his :practice is entirely unromantic;.  It is through the protagonist Eddie Carbone, that Alfieri is able to address this moral dilemma and understand justice in terms of honor and codes of conduct rather than law. While Dysart seems uncertain over the two value systems, Alfieri seems to be on the .civilized・ side of American law throughout the play. However in the final monologue, Alfieri admits to the inner struggle he has been experiencing between the two sides, however he constantly assures himself, :it is better to settle for half, it must be!; Therefore Dysart・s uncertainty throughout the play allows the audience to better understand the two value systems and to even see that there is no black or white answer in such a moral dilemma, but rather there exists a grey area. Although Alfieri experiences the same struggle as Dysart, he seems to be decided, therefore the audience is drawn to Alfieri・s thought process and thus might agree with him and not fully understand the values and implications of both sides.


The roles of both Alfieri and Dysart explore and present the moral dilemmas pertaining to their respective practices, however these moral dilemmas share another common factor- they examine the advantages and disadvantages associated with safety/practicality and passion. Dysart・s love for Ancient Greece shows his passionate side, yet he never fully engages in his passion due to the fact that others, namely his wife- don・t understand this interest and so he lives a .normal・ and dull life, adhering to society・s expectations. Shaffer・s purpose in creating the character of Dysart is not only to engage the audience in the moral dilemma at hand, but also to provide an insight to the audience of the pulls of passion.  Dysart, himself, admires and even envies Alan for being able to live life fully and engage in his passion. :I sit looking at pictures of centaurs trampling the soil of Argos- and outside my window he is trying to become one, in a Hampshire field.; Therefore the role of Dysart is also to garner appreciation from the audience for those who live their life for themselves.


Similarly, Miller creates Alfieri, to provide an insight to this same passion, after all he characterizes Alfieri as Italian- therefore Alfieri is able to understand justice in terms of honor and unwritten laws. However, Alfieri has been American for the past twenty-five years, therefore like Dysart he adheres to society. In the end of both plays, we see Dysart and Alfieri both give a final monologue- in which they both admit to their admiration of Alan and Eddie respectively, for living a full and passionate life, which they themselves couldn・t.  In Alfieri・s case, this is the first time he admits to his admiration, :I confess that something perversely pure calls to me from his memory - not purely good, but himself purely, for he allowed himself to be wholly known and for that I think I will love him more than all my sensible clients.;  However, with Dysart this admiration has been built on throughout the play. While both characters can be seen admiring their respective protagonists, in the case of Dysart a hint of envy can be seen, thus the audience is better able to understand the pulls of a passionate life, through the character of Dysart, because he is more expressive of his appreciation than Alfieri.


The role of Alfieri in .View・ and Dysart in .Equus・, both effectively present the audience with a moral dilemma. However, .Equus・ is more effective, because not only is it・s moral dilemma more intriguing and thought provoking, but also Dysart・s transparent uncertainty and struggle between the two value systems throughout the play, allows the audience to better question the moral dilemma at hand- as they are able to fully understand the implications of each value system and thus better asses them. Shaw・s employment of the character Alfieri while also effective, isn・t as thought provoking for the audience as Alfieri seems decided on following the more civilized set of law when it comes to justice, even though he feels the pull of honor when it comes to justice- therefore although the audience is able to see, appreciate and gain an understanding of both value systems, they walk away with the inkling that :it must be better to settle for half;. Both Miller and Shaffer introduce the pulls of living a passionate life through Alfieri, and Dysart respectively; however Shaffer does a better job of this as he shows Dysart・s appreciation and even envy for those who pursue their passion. Therefore, with the character of Dysart, Miller manages to present the audience with an intriguing moral dilemma and allow them to fairly question both sides and to see that in such a case, there exists a grey area, as well as garner admiration from the audience for those who engage in their passion, as compared to the character of Alfieri in .View・.


Knowledge & Understanding

There is a clear understanding of the two texts here and a nice distinction between the two roles that are explored for Dysart with a clear separation between the importance of passion and the fact that he is torn uncertain about the value of the normal. One thing that is problematic, however, is the claim that we only really see Alfieri・s preference for passion at the end of the .View・ because there is actually quite a lot of evidence that implies this throughout.


Response to the Question

This is the biggest area of strength for this essay: there are great comparisons between the two texts and clear evaluations, almost verging on too much at points.


Literary Conventions

The points here are well supported by quotations but there is not much treatment of these plays as plays. There needs to be more exploration of specifically dramatic conventions and reference to the way in which the play would appear when performed on stage.


Organisation & Development

There is a good clear structure here and the evaluation ties everything together at the end very well.



The language here is generally fine although there are some small language errors such as the misspelling of Alfieri or the repetition of both in the sentence: .In the end of both plays, we see Dysart and Alfieri both give a final monologue- in which they both admit ...・. Although this seems picky, these are the small things that bring the language grade down.




18 = 6