In View From The Bridge


To what extent can Eddie Carbone be seen as a tragic hero?


To find the meanings of a tragic hero, I must define what tragic and hero mean. A tragic event is an event that is disastrous, dreadful or fateful. A tragic story or play has a serious theme, which usually results in death or defeat. In real life, an example of a tragic event is unreturned love or a young person killed in a car crash. A hero is a man who displays courage or noble qualities and is often perceived as a muscular, handsome man.


Taking these two definitions into consideration, a tragic hero is a man who displays courage or noble qualities, but has a fatal flaw, which is exposed and can be twisted by any character. Eddie’s fatal flaw is jealousy and this is inadvertently, exposed and twisted by Rodolpho.


‘A View from the Bridge’ is set in Brooklyn, amongst an immigrant community who are poor and struggling, most working as ‘longshoremen’ when the work is available. Eddie is of Italian ancestry, his father emigrated from Italy to America, and has therefore been brought up with the strong, passionate Italian/Sicilian codes of honour and loyalty. Marco and Rodolfo are illegal immigrants, ‘submarines’, who have desperately wanted to go to America. This is shown by their illegal status and the terrible unemployment and poverty where they have come from and their absolute need to work, which in Marco’s case is a matter of life or death for his family. This makes their situation even more desperate. The way in which Eddie is driven into betraying his cousins and betraying his own beliefs and moral codes by his obsessive and possessive love for Catherine is a personal tragedy, but the Italian factor intensifies and adds to the tragic nature of the play, Miller uses the Italian/Sicilian community to explore the themes of honour and loyalty to the family and revenge after betrayal, because these are essential to their culture. Eddie shows that he believes you should never betray your word of honour, at the beginning of the play when he says “You can quicker get back a million dollars that was stolen than a word you gave away.”


I will focus upon these 6 issues that make this play a Greek Tragedy:


Firstly, violence is representative of a Greek tragedy. Marco is to hold accountable for most of the violence in the play. The main source of violence is in the final scene where Eddie is murdered. In this play, Marco’s actions lead us to the discovery of the violence in the play, which he uses to defend his honour in a number of occasions. For example, when he challenges Eddie to lift the chair at the end of the first act, we understand that he did it to save his brother’s face and his family’s honour. In addition, the killing of Eddie by Marco’s own hands at the end of the play is the final display of his violent behaviour.


The levels of violence throughout the scene are very high, especially at this point, “Eddie lunges with the knife. Marco grabs his arm, turning the blade inward and pressing it home as the woman and Louis rush in and separate them, and Eddie, the knife still in his hand, falls to his knees before Marco. The two woman support him for a moment, calling his name again and again.”


Secondly, the inevitability of Eddie’s disastrous downfall. There were many circumstances where destiny played a major part in his death, which were beyond Eddie, that contributed to his downfall:


1.His Sicilian background


Coming from a Sicilian background, Eddie believed that the man should be the leader of the household and that everything goes by him first concerning his family and that he should be very manly and ought to stand up for those close to him. He was trying to be so manly as his background commands him to do so that he could not show any emotion, so he kept everything inside and bottled it up.


2. His neighbourhood


Eddie’s neighbourhood motivates him a lot to do ludicrous things for the reason that he is so concerned about his respect in the neighbourhood, he forgets about