In ‘A View from a Bridge’, Eddie is the main character. We see that at the end of the play he is portrayed as a tragic hero. But what is a tragic hero? A tragic hero is the main character in a film or story who makes an error in his/her actions that leads to his/her downfall. The tell tale signs are common. Most of the time, the hero is physically or psychologically wounded by his experiences, often resulting in his death due to his fatal flaw. The majority of the time, it is the character of a male. It is necessary to examine the use of language, the direct stage directions and the use of the stage to show how Eddie is portrayed as a tragic hero.
In the play we see that Arthur Miller portrays Eddie as a good man. The way he puts his family first is one example. He had to travel to different ports to get work to do and provide for his family. He seems to be overprotective of Catherine. On the other hand, it could be seen that he was overprotective because he doesn’t want her to have fun and wants to keep her to himself. But on the other hand, it may be because he wants her to be safe especially when he fights with Beatrice for Catherine not to work near the port with longshoremen. He has also provided his home for Rodolpho and Marco even though he doesn’t need to. Even though he doesn’t like Rodolpho, when Mike and Louis talk against Rodolpho, Eddie defends him and talks for him. The fact that he has given his home to people he doesn’t even know is also evidence that Eddie is a good man. He also seems to value his family and put them first. He wants to protect them from the evil of the world and keep them away from all the hardship in life.
At the time the play is set, in the 1950s, The American Dream was also important. It’s a phrase referring to the supposed freedom that allows all citizens and all residents of the United States to pursue their goals in life through hard work and free choice. It came from the founding fathers that used the phrase of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” We see this with Marco and Rodolpho who came from their home country to America to make a living and a new life for themselves. They came illegally through boats past Statue of Liberty and were known as “Submarines.”
Eddie Carbone is the protagonist of the play. He is forceful, hard working and possessive of Catherine. However, he does show generosity and warmth especially when Marco and Rodolpho come into the country. Eddie is a simple man who has few interests outside of work and family; he is too protective of Catherine always laying down laws for her and expecting her to obey him. As the play develops Eddie is finding it more and more difficult to accept that Catherine is growing up this leads Eddie to change to a more aggressive, angry and jealous person leading to his eventual death. The obvious reason for Eddie’s death was that Marco was outraged with Eddie because he informed the information bureau about Marco and Rodolfo being illegal immigrants.
The stage was carefully organized to contribute to the play. Eddie and his apartment are in the centre of the stage. On one side (the audience’s right) there is the phone booth and on the other side the table and office of Alfieri. This symbolizes, on one side, law with Alfieri whist on the other side the phone booth symbolizes betrayal. One was morally right while the other was right towards the community. This shows that Eddie had either two choices, he can go to the law and do what many people in his community would say is the right thing to do while he can go to the phone booth and call immigration which people in his community will despise him for it. It shows that he had two options and we, the audience, can see what he was thinking of. Since the apartment is in the middle, the lighting is central on this part of the stage. It gives us an insight that this is where the action may happen and this is where the climax will be set.
Eddie keeps on saying that Rodolpho “ain’t right” because he isn’t masculine. He isn’t like the other longshoremen or like Marco. He is more feminine and not strong enough. To him, longshoremen are the epitome of a man because of their manual and practical work. He thinks that Rodolpho is different because he can cook, sing and make dresses. But Eddie isn’t masculine himself. From stage directions, we see that he is about to cry or have tears in his eyes. He isn’t the man he wants everybody else to be. For example at the end of the play when he is facing Marco, the stage directions show Eddie crying out in agony.
In Act 2, the stage directions seem to be more descriptive and really show what Eddie’s character is like. At one point Catherine “see the tears in his eyes”. It shows that even though he wants to keep in his emotions, there will always be someone who can see his emotions and how he really feels, Catherine. When Eddie, Rodolpho and Catherine have a brawl, “Eddie stands there with tears rolling down his face.” This shows that there are times where his emotions get the better of him. He may not be the perfect person. At one point it says “unwilling to pursue this”. It shows that he has had enough and wanted to make a change. The stage directions then say “He gathers himself almost peremptorily” this shows that he seems to be getting angry but him trying to keep it in. Eddie seems to be a character who keeps his emotions within. In Act 2 he also seems to pause more often but this seems to make him angrier than usual. At one point his “â€¦jaws clenchedâ€¦with new anxiety”. It shows that he must be stressed. This was when the phone was glowing. This symbolizes the importance of this situation. It gathers the attention of the audience allowing them to know that this is something they should pay attention to. We can imagine what is going through his mind. He really wants to try and see if there is a way to stop them without calling immigration but there isn’t and he also wants to have some revenge on Marco. This is all portrayed to the audience. It allows the audience to feel his pain and feels his emotions.
The catalyst has got to be when Marco and Rodolpho come setting of a chain of events. We know that something was going to happen with Eddie and Catherine but Rodolpho having a relationship with Catherine pushed Eddie to the edge.. First Marco and Rodolpho arrive and then after a while, Catherine and Rodolpho start dating even though Eddie doesn’t approve. Eddie argues with Rodolpho and Marco and Marco shows his strength to prove to Eddie that if he does anything to Rodolpho, he is starting trouble with Marco. Eddie and Alfieri then meet for the first time. It isn’t the first time he had heard from him. He has helped his family before, but this is the first time he has asked for any help. Beatrice and Eddie then fight. Eddie catches Rodolpho and Catherine coming out of the bedroom. This then leads Eddie to kiss Rodolpho and Catherine. The reason may be because of a combination of things for example him just coming back from drinking and his hidden feelings for the both of them. He goes to Alfieri but then chooses to call Immigration. Eddie has had enough of them.
The stage directions show the audience that Eddie’s actions often contradict what he is saying. He may say to Beatrice one thing but he doesn’t mean it. At the end of Act One when Eddie challenges Rodolpho and when Marco lifts the chair he starts “twisting the newspaper into a tight roll”. He wanted to try hide his anger but it didn’t work. When he sees Catherine outside, he starts “enveloping her with her eyes”. He liked her but he didn’t want her to know. He didn’t want to admit it to himself. Also in one of the main scenes where he kisses Catherine and Rodolpho, he has tears running down his face as he laughed mockingly. He was hurt inside but wanted to show what a masculine man would do.
The fatal flaw or weakness in Eddie would be that he had feelings for Catherine. He seems to be angry with Rodolpho because he is trying to take her away with him. The question, and the potential debate, is that some don’t think that he does have feeling for Catherine. If that is the case, when Eddie is drunk, how come he kisses Catherine and Rodolpho? Eddie is more open with Catherine than Beatrice. Their relationship has seemed to evolve more than just that of a father or daughter. Evidence of this could be when Catherine light Eddies cigarette. In the 1950s this was done as a sign of a close relationship. It hints a slight hint of sexual intimacy between the two. Also, Eddie acts differently when he is around Catherine when Beatrice is there. He is less open and less intimate with Catherine.
Eddie’s betrayal seems to be unsuccessful. The whole point of this was to stop Catherine marrying Rodolpho. This hasn’t been done. The reason we know this is because Rodolpho went on to marry Catherine but Marco was sent away. It is also like the story of Vinny Bolzano (an example of foreshadowing and irony) because after Eddie and Vinny have betrayed their families, it results in bad consequences: death for Eddie and being abandoned by his family for Vinny.
The person to blame will have to be Eddie. He was just thinking of himself and not the people around him including the community that he lived in. Some may say that it wasn’t conscious. He may have had feelings for Catherine but he didn’t want them. Marco could be a slight factor for not listening to Alfieri when he was bailed out. Also Rodolpho should have asked permission to take Catherine just because that is the normal tradition and it could have stopped the whole thing but at the end of the day, Eddie should have been able to control his emotions and actions and therefore take the consequences of it. At the end of play what were the costs of the betrayal? We see that Eddie lost his name that is why in the street, Eddie says “I want my name Marco”. He has lost his name and he knows that he will only be accepted in the community when he has his reputation back. This was important then and is now. People with a good reputation are more likely to be accepted in a community.
Technically, Eddie is wholly to blame as it was his decision to tell the immigration bureau. However Catherine and Rodolfo didn’t help make the situation any better by their actions throughout the play. Alfieri could have done more. He could have tried to stop Eddie but he didn’t try hard enough. The audience will now be able to grasp the actions of the characters and not only see them as people on a piece of paper but real people in the real world. Eddie’s death is made all the more tragic because it stems from his inability to understand – let alone articulate – his feelings. The play depicts the downfall and death of a decent man due to a fatal flaw. It makes the audience feel sorry for him even though he may have made a mistake, an innocent life has been loss
By Boaz Quartey
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