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To What Extent Can Eddie Be Described As A Tragic Hero In 'A View From The Bridge' By Arthur Miller?

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In writing 'A View from the Bridge', Arthur Miller wanted to create a modern Greek tragedy. An Ancient Greek tragedy was a play where fate brings about the downfall of the characters involved. It has many other generic features which Miller has incorporated into his modern version. The character of Alfieri is used in the traditional chorus role, and Eddie is often likened to a tragic hero, the main character who contributes to their own downfall through a flawed personality, typically described as their "tragic flaw". The traditional Greek tragedies would have been performed in amphitheatres, in which the audience would look down on the actors. Not only is this similar to the way Alfieri looks down from the bridge, it is also similar to the way that Greek tragedies involved a strong sense of destiny controlled by the Gods, symbolised by the looking down. Miller uses the idea of destiny to great effect in 'A View from the Bridge'.

Miller has used the idea of inevitability about the plot to great effect in 'A View from the Bridge'. It is the fate of Eddie that Miller concentrates on, in keeping with Greek tragedy where the fate of the tragic hero is unavoidable. Alfieri is used to enforce the idea of destiny, as he is an onlooker in the play. Indeed the whole play is set in the past, with Alfieri's monologues saying what has passed, and the scenes involving the other characters shown as flashbacks. This adds to the sense of inevitability about the fate of Eddie, as the audience know what is going to happen as soon as Alfieri says 'This one's name was Eddie Carbone', the was clearly indicating that he is dead. Alfieri also refers to fate's 'bloody course', which immediately introduces us to the idea of destiny. It is an ominous statement as it suggests that from the outset there will be no fairytale ending to the play, and it gives the sense that unavoidable tragedy will occur. Alfieri's speech clearly shows how helpless outsiders such as himself are; he refers to how perhaps other lawyers have 'heard the same complaint and sat there, as powerless as I'. This establishes Alfieri's position as a mere onlooker to something which is out of his control. This opening speech also has extensive ancient references, relating it to a Greek tragedy; 'the law has not been a friendly idea since the Greeks were beaten'. Eddie is also the first character to be introduced after Alfieri's monologue, which emphasises his importance from the outset. As well as showing the audience the play in flashbacks, Alfieri constantly reminds the audience of the unavoidable fate that is waiting for Eddie, saying, 'Eddie Carbone never expected to have a destiny' and remarking after the first of his two meetings with Eddie, 'I knew then and there...I could see every step coming, step after step, like a dark figure walking down a hall to a certain door'. These are comments of an ominous nature which reinforce that Eddie's fate is waiting for him, in the same way as the destiny of a tragic hero is unavoidable, and this builds up dramatic tension as the audience wait to see how Eddie is led to his fate.

Eddie's destiny is unavoidable due to the tragic flaw in his personality. This again is a device used in Greek tragedy, and can be described as a weakness of character which brings about a person's downfall. This is a feature which all tragic heroes have, and to make their downfall more evident, traditionally a tragic hero would be a good person with significant moral stature. This is indeed the case with Eddie. At the beginning of the play, Miller portrays Eddie as a kind, loving man, who has taken in his orphaned niece and brought her up well. He is shown to care for Catherine, saying 'I want you in a nice office', before giving in to what Catherine wants. He appears to have a typical father-daughter type relationship with his niece, and the audience warm to him because of this. Eddie is also shown to be a moral, respectable man, who upholds and supports the unwritten code of honour in the Italian-American community in which he lives. He is clearly respected by other members of his community, with Mike and Louis frequently asking him is he's 'going bowlin''. Eddie tells Catherine the story of Vinny Bolzano, a boy who 'snitched to the immigration' about 'an uncle they were hidin' in the house,' who was then publicly humiliated by his own family and was not seen in the area since. This is an example of how the community functions, as Vinny's actions were against what they considered right, so he was duly punished. This has extra significance in play as it is later something that Eddie lowers himself to doing. The story is told to be remembered so that when Eddie later does the same as what Vinny did, the change in him is very evident. Eddie tells Catherine that 'you can quicker get back a million dollars that was stole than a word you gave away' and with this sound advice Eddie gains the audience's respect.

Although Eddie is at first shown to care for Catherine as a father cares for a daughter, after a few early suggestions that he is in fact too possessive in the opening scene, the play develops to show that Eddie has too much love for Catherine. Although on the surface Eddie's tragic flaw appears to be his inability to compromise, his real tragic flaw is shown to be this too great a love for Catherine, which, sparked by her romance with Rodolpho, leads to his downfall. Eddie's first hint to suggest that the love is too depp is when he tells Catherine she is 'walkin' wavy'. 'I don't like the looks they're giving you in the candy store' Eddie tells her, but this could at first be interpreted as simply the comments of an uncle who does not like to see his niece grow up so fast.

However, Eddie's tragic flaw is soon exposed as he will not accept the romance between Catherine and Rodolpho. As Eddie realises that their relationship is becoming serious, he degrades Rodolpho at any opportunity by questions his sexuality, at first telling Beatrice 'he's like a weird...he's like a chorus girl' and then taking the matter up with Alfieri, saying Rodolpho 'ain't right'. Because Eddie cannot bear to see a man take away Catherine, something in his personality compels him to find any excuse as to why Rodolpho is not good enough for Catherine, and he believes that Rodolpho wants Catherine only to be an American citizen - he is 'bowing to his passport'. Catherine refuses to accept this argument despite Eddie's pleas, 'Katie, don't break my heart, listen to me'. This is the first time that Miller reveals some of Eddie's



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