What do I need to know about ... Alfieri's Office?

(Mainly based on two scenes beginning on pages 45 and 66)

Alfieri’s office creates the impression of attempting of to avoid confrontations with the law. Alfieri can be depicted as a bridge between the legal and the illegal because he helps people ‘settle for half’ so that they wouldn’t take the law into their own hands. It can be seen that when Eddie meets Alfieri in Alfieri’s office, Eddie is often the one who is attempting to follow the law and do the legal thing, whereas Alfieri himself, who is one of the figures closest to law, tries to persuade him leave these matters alone.

Alfieri’s place is also reveals the contrast between the educated personages and the mostly uneducated people of the Red Hook Slum. This is through the different ways of speaking between Eddie and Alfieri, thus Alfieri’s office can also be deemed a bridge between the well educated and the uneducated. Eddie speaks in uncultivated English including much slang, “it don’t go no place but here”, while Alfieri’s language is well put-together and phrased.

Much can be said about the events that transpire in that office. During the first scene in Alfieri’s office, one can see most of the main themes of the play. When Eddie first appears in his office, ‘his eyes were like tunnels’. One may think of Eddie sympathetically, however, this description of his eyes suggests otherwise: he may have a darker, deeper side to him. This is also the only place where he shows his true emotions such as how he got up from the chair ‘with a helpless wave’ showing that ‘feels the threat of sobs’.

Eddie experiences catharsis in Alfieri’s office as it is a safe place where he can express himself and let his thoughts out. This is confirmed through the fact that Eddie is eager to confrim ‘I’m talking to you confidential, ain’t I?’

Key Quotations

In Alfieri’s monologue where he said ‘’I sat here many afternoons, asking myself why’’ pg 50 it can be seen that his office is a place of contemplation, a place where reflects upon the events that had transpired. This is also why when Alfieri does come on stage, he is frequently depicted to be in his office.

When in Alfieri’s office, Eddie ‘takes a breath and glances briefly over each shoulder’, ‘shifts to another position in the chair’ and ‘and glances at Alfieri and down to the floor’ which shows how restless he is. Perhaps it is the fact that Eddie is facing the cool, calm authority that exudes from Alfieri that made him feel uneasy.

Role in Play

Mr. Alfieri's office represents a conflict of the two main themes within the play. Firstly, Mr. Alfieri has an Italian background; this background represents a strong compassion for honor, and justice above the law. It is this background which both Eddie and Marco attempt to use to sway Mr. Alfieri in their favor against each other (perhaps in Eddie's case against Rodolpho more than Marco); however standing true to his profession he sides with the American, of "official" law each time. His unwavering support of what is official, is perhaps why it is him who Aruther Miller choose to be the chorus of the play and not someone who would hold a bias view.