Alfieri plays various roles throughout the play and is probably the most important person but, not as a character. As the narrator, Alfieri sets the scene, ‘this is the slum that faces the bay on the seaward side of Brooklyn Bridge’, and usually speaks in places of time gaps for example after Eddie just meets with Rodolpho and Marco, Alfieri narrates and the scene continues a few hours after where it left. Alfieri tells the story to make it clearer to understand and links scenes to events.
Alfieri also acts as a commentator in the play because unlike a traditional narrator, Alfieri is a character, a person, and has opinions which he shares with the audience and looks at the events and people from an objective viewpoint ‘Now we settle for half, and I like it better’ and ‘I often think that behind the suspicious little nod of theirs lie three thousand years of distrust’. Alfieri as a character can interact with the characters and the play. The most important role of Alfieri is probably as the chorus. In ancient Greek tragedies, Greek choruses were used as narrators and more.
The chorus shows an average persons opinion of the play. Greek choruses new what tragedies were to come but like Alfieri were powerless to affect the events. Each role is dramatically important to the structure of the play, Alfieri acts as a bridge between the audience and events taking place in the play. The play is opened by a speech form Alfieri ‘You can see how uneasily they nod to me. ‘ This is addressing the audience and immediately establishes a bridge between the audience and the play. He explains the cultural and social backgrounds of both the characters and Red Hook.
He tells the way Sicilians were taught to take the law into their own hands and to do to them, as they have done to you, in other words, an eye for an eye. Alfieri describes how many brought this way of life from Sicily with them ”Frankie Yale himself was cut precisely in half by a machine-gun on the corner of Union Street, two blocks away’ and ‘there were many shot by unjust men’. Alfieri explains that things have calmed and the residents of Red Hook adapted to American society and the law and Alfieri prefers it this way.
Alfieri hints that the events that are to come are inevitable ‘sat there as powerless as I, and watched it run its bloody course’. Alfieri fulfils his role as a narrator by setting the scene and introducing a character ‘this ones name was Eddie Carbone, a longshoreman’. Alfieri says that he cannot stop the catastrophe just like the traditional Greek choruses. Alfieri established a link with the audience at the beginning of the speech by addressing them directly and sustains by sharing his opinions with the audience.
Alfieri raises the theme of justice in the opening speech and describes that not everyone has the same opinions of what justice is. The opening speech is important because it gives the audience an impression of what goes on in Red Hook and what lead to it being like this. The dramatic importance of Alfieri’s second appearance is to explain Eddie Carbone. Alfieri describes Eddie and hints he is a simple man ‘he worked on the piers when there was work, he brought home his pay, and he lived’.
Alfieri thought of Eddie as a simple man who does what he needs to do to survive. The importance of this speech is to show some sympathy towards Eddie. In Alfieri’s fourth appearance, he still implies Eddie is a simple man ‘a man works, raises his family, goes bowling, eats, gets old, and then he dies’. Alfieri mentions that Eddie has a ‘Destiny’ and that expands on the point that it is inevitable because destinies cannot change ‘there was a future, there was a trouble that would not go away’.