For the remainder of this essay I shall explain the importance of Alfieri not as a dramatic device but as a character in his own right. After Eddie, Alfieri’s character is probably the most important one and it could be argued Alfieri has many characters within his one character. Alfieri is also a lawyer within the play in which the other characters seek advice from, but also a kind man who’s a good friend to the other characters in the play.
Alfieri quickly grasps Eddie’s obsession with Catherine and repeatedly warns him not to interfere, to let her go and to “settle for half.” Eddie seeks advice from Alfieri on more then one occasion and we learn a lot about Eddie when he speaks to Alfieri as he doesn’t have to pretend to him like he does everyone else “When I think of that guy laying his hands on her I could- I mean it’s eating me out, Mr Alfieri.”
The audience here see what Eddie really feels about Catherine. Alfieri proceeds to explain to Eddie how he should just allow the marriage of Catherine and Rudolpho. But knows that will not happen and is aware of Eddies for coming actions and is completely powerless in stopping them! Alfieri is a dramatic device in this scene as he creates tension and suspense through his actions “Alfieri rises with a new anxiety.” The stage directions ensure the audience understand Alfieri’s level of distress at what he sees’s happening in the future within the audience as they are anticipating something bad is going to happen especially when he says “I could see every step coming, step after step.” The scene in which Alfieri tries without success, to make Eddie understand the issue of law and nature is a very interesting one.
Alfieri’s Dialogue and actions is meant to repeatedly warn Eddie. Eddie refuses to accept Alfieris advice to let Catherine go “and bless her” and that the only legal question is how the two brothers Marco and Rodolpho entered the country in the first place but again Alfieri warns Eddie “I don’t think you want to do anything about that.” Marco’s view on law and justice widely contrasts that of Alfieri’s, as Alfieri, being a lawyer believes people should abide by written law even if you are only “half” satisfied.
However, Marco believes written law is unfair and that there is no law to punish the actions of Eddie, so decides to take law into his on hands which eventually and inevitably results in a tragic death and the belief within the audience that Alfieri’s beliefs on law and justice were right especially when he cleverly reiterates his belief at the end of the play. “Most of the time now we settle for half and I like it better.”
Alfieri’s many roles within the play are adapted well to suit each of these roles: as friend, narrator and lawyer. The way in which Alfieri adapts his language is very clear when he adapts his language to communicate with Eddie by using less sophisticated language and more ‘Brooklyn slang’ for example “Free agent ” which Alfieri uses to describe Catherine to Eddie when in his office. In this essay I have discussed the many ways in which Mr Alfieri is used both as a dramatic device and a character in his own right by Miller.
For example Alfieri’s Greek chorus like interludes, Alfieri’s knowledge of the issues within the play and his powerlessness to stop the tragedy from unfolding and the audiences sympathetic response to Alfieri’s character. I believe the key moral within this wonderful thought provoking play was the major political issues taking place in Millers time and the character of Alfieri is what I believe the author himself within his own play. Both the tellers of an incredible story that neither can change!