A View from the Bridge: Alfieri’s Prologue

All right, this is me doing the entire internet community a public service.

I have spent the better part of an hour looking for the script of Alfieri’s opening speech in Google, only to come up with summaries of either the entire Act One or interpretations. Now, while that is all well and good, the actual excerpt would help!

So here I am now, typing the entire thing from my copy of the book (which, by the way, I bought online from Amazon — très cool). I’ve sacrificed ten minutes of my life to do this, so whoever you are reading this, be thankful. ;D

You wouldn’t have known it, but something amusing just happened. You see how uneasily they nod to me? That’s because I am a lawyer. In this neighbourhood to meet a lawyer or a priest on the street is unlucky. We’re only thought of in connection with disasters, and they’d rather not get too close.

I often think that behind that suspicious little nod of theirs lie three thousand years of distrust. A lawyer means the law, and in Sicily, from where their fathers came, the law has not been a friendly idea since the Greeks were beaten.

I am inclined to notice the ruins in things, perhaps because I was born in Italy . . . I only came here when I was twenty-five. In those days, Al Capone, the greatest Carthaginian of all, was learning his trade on these pavements, and Frankie Yale himself was cut precisely in half by a machine gun on the corner of Union Street, two blocks away. Oh, there were many here who were justly shot by unjust men.

Justice is very important here.

But this is Red Hook, not Sicily. This is the slum that faces the bay on the seaward side of Brooklyn Bridge. This is the gullet of New York swallowing the tonnage of the world. And now we are quite civilized, quite American. Now we settle for half, and I like it better. I no longer keep a pistol in my filing cabinet.

And my practice is entirely unromantic.

My wife has warned me, so have my friends; they tell me the people in this neighbourhood lack elegance, glamour. After all, who have I dealt with in my life? Longshoremen and their wives, and fathers and grandfathers, compensation cases, evictions, family squabbles – the petty troubles of the poor – and yet . . . every few years there is still a case, and as the parties tell me what the trouble is, the flat air in my office suddenly washes in with the green scent of the sea, the dust in this air is blown away and the thought comes that in some Caesar’s year, in Calabria perhaps or on the cliff at Syracuse, another lawyer, quite differently dressed, heard the same complaint and sat there as powerless as I, and watched it run its bloody course.

This one’s name was Eddie Carbone, a longshoreman working the docks from Brooklyn Bridge to the breakwater where the open sea begins.

EDDIE has appeared and has been pitching coins with the men and is highlighted among them. He is forty — a husky, slightly overweight longshoreman.

This one’s name was Eddie Carbone, a longshoreman working the docks from Brooklyn Bridge to the breakwater where the open sea begins.

ALFIERI walks into darkness.

I had to make an essay about this entire thing for my English Literature class, and let me say just how much I hated every minute of making it. I try my best, I really do, but I can’t help but feel my best isn’t good enough. Like my goal is right there, I could see it… but I can’t get to it because I’m not equipped enough to do so. I don’t know why, since I use big words and everything!

Anyway, it’s all very confusing, and I tend to not think about it much in fear of going insane. Well, being more insane that I already am. ^__^

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11 thoughts on “A View from the Bridge: Alfieri’s Prologue

  1. Yeah, I’m writing an essay on this as well, and it’s taking me about half an hour per word…
    Having the actual speech really helped though, so thanks!

  2. OMG thank you so much! needed this for my english essay but have managed to lose my copy of the play, so like u spent the best part of an hour trying to find this on the net without the ‘free essays/interpretations’ that people seem to feel the need to give you. so thankful!!

  3. omg thank you so so much! left my book in my locker and I had no way of getting to it! how did your essay go in the end?:) xxx

  4. Really helpful thanks! It’s a shame I found this blog so late, it seems like something I could have totally got interested in! ^-^ Thank you x

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