When hinting about the inevitable, Alfieri also manages to convey a sense of danger and suspense to the audience thereby instantly setting the mood for the scene. The way in which he does this is very effective with the use of powerful words and striking metaphors: “But I will never forget how dark the room went when he looked at me; his eyes were like tunnels”. This statement evokes a suspenseful atmosphere within the people in the audience and draws us into the scene, immersing us in the action.
In addition to setting the mood for the scene, Alfieri also brings about feelings and emotions in the audience at the same time. This is primarily evident at the every end of the play when he gives his closing speech: “his death useless… 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. ” In saying this, feelings of pity are conveyed to the audience for Eddie, seeing as after all, the tragic events of the play were all brought about simply because of Eddie’s love for his niece.
Throughout the play the fact is repeated and reinforced that the impending disaster is inevitable and that both Eddie and Alfieri are powerless to stop it seeing as the relationship between Catherine and Rodolpho is not illegal in any way: “asking myself why, being an intelligent man, I was so powerless to stop it. ” and “There is nothing you can do, Eddie, believe me. ” This introduces the theme of powerlessness and timelessness in the play, which is important as it suggests that the events in the play could have taken place anywhere at anytime and could have happened to anyone.
Nevertheless being unavoidable, there was nothing anyone could have done about it in order to prevent the tragic ending of the play. The theme of powerlessness on Alfieri’s part can also be linked to the title of the play, where he as the lawyer could be seen as a detached onlooker of the play’s events, standing at a distance on a metaphorical ‘bridge’. Seeing as he is detached, he is unable to arbitrate the action and isn’t very involved.
There are other possible interpretations of the title’s significance such as that the bridge is the ‘bridge’ between the audience and the characters in the play and Alfieri, being on that bridge and having a view of all the events from there, is able to mediate between both groups. Again taking into account that he is detached from both fractions, he is able to offer an unbiased, clear overview of the play’s events and characters, as his vision isn’t affected and obscured by opinions.
Another example is that the title could be seen as a bridge between two very different ways of life – the American culture and Italian culture, and more specifically the ways of law and justice in both cases. American law states that justice must be taken to the authorities and is mainly in the interest of protecting the government, whereas Sicilian justice is dealt with through the people as a community and is in the interest of protecting the family.
Alfieri, having had experienced with both sides of the bridge, is therefore able to see the story from both perspectives or viewpoints and this enables him to reason with Eddie and give him advice because he knows that in America it is not possible to take the law into your own hands: “You have no recourse in the law, Eddie” and “Morally and legally you have no rights, you cannot stop it”.
Lastly, the hidden meaning within the title could also be that seeing as Alfieri is at a higher level in terms of education, wisdom and sensibility, he has an elevated, perhaps wiser view from the ‘bridge’, of the play’s happenings and can consequently see the general outcome of the characters’ actions leading to the disastrous ending. The last interpretation of the title strongly suggests Alfieri as a godlike figure, introducing the theme of power.
This is in reality the case, as many characters turn to him for help and advice during the course of the play, the main one of course being Eddie. In fact Alfieri’s role as an actual character in the play is mainly, if not entirely, to do with being an advisor to the other characters. We see his first appearance in this role during Act 1 when Eddie first seeks his help. In this scene we are able to see the contrast between the two characters – Alfieri who is calm, sensible and rational and who attempts to reason with Eddie who is hasty, unreasonable and irrational.
This is apparent when in response to Alfieri saying: “She can’t marry you, can she? ” he immediately flares up and retaliates without attempting to see the stupidity of his accusations. It is also clear during their conversation that Alfieri understands exactly what the problem is and comprehends fully the awkward situation between Eddie and Catherine: “but through the years – there is too much love for the daughter, there is too much love for the niece”.
To give further emphasis to his godlike position is the manner in which Alfieri gives advice and the actual advice that he gives, which is very sensible and appropriate and even contains an air of wisdom: “The child has to grow up and go away, and the man has to learn to forget… Let her go. That’s my advice. ” The language used by Alfieri also contributes to this. In contrast to Eddie, he speaks with elegance and near perfect English whereas Eddie’s dialogue is uncouth, simple and uneducated and his speech is much more colloquial.