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How does Arthur Miller create tragedy in A View From the Bridge?

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user9503965 | eNoter

Posted January 10, 2013 at 2:48 PM via web

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How does Arthur Miller create tragedy in A View From the Bridge?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted January 10, 2013 at 4:28 PM (Answer #1)

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One of the ways in which Miller creates tragedy in this play is through the conflict between the self and the community. Throughout the play, Miller makes it clear that there is a difference of will that is occurring: the will of Eddie Carbone and his own individual desires and then the will of the community, that requires its members to act in a certain way to sustain the interests of that community, and sharply censures anyone who does not act in this way. Tragedy is created through Eddie's actions in disregarding the community and pursuing his own desires in conflict with the interests of the community. Note how Alfieri reflects on Eddie's tragedy at the end of the play:

Most of the time we settle for half and I like it better. Even as I know how wrong he was, and his death useless, I tremble, for I confess that something perversely pure calls to me from his memory—not purely good, but himself purely And yet, it is better to settle for half, it must be! And so I mourn him—I admit it—with a certain alarm.

What is interesting about this quote is the way that Alfieri refers to the tragedy of Eddie as something that both challenges and inspires him. Alfieri recognises that there has to be give and take in this conflict between the individual and the community, and that this "half" is the best thing to settle for. Yet, what Eddie did was to be himself and be "perversely pure," which ended in his death because of the way he defied the community. Even though Alfieri thinks this is dangerous, the oxymoron in "perversely pure" shows the attraction he finds in Eddie's example, in refusing to let oneself be inhibited by the needs of the community. The tragedy is thus created in this play through this conflict between the individual and the community and what happens when one man acts for his own goals against the community.

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