A View From the Bridge

by Arthur Miller

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Discussion Topic

The causes of Eddie Carbone's tragedy in A View From the Bridge and his characterization as a tragic hero

Summary:

The causes of Eddie Carbone's tragedy in A View From the Bridge include his obsessive love for his niece Catherine, his inability to adapt to changing social norms, and his betrayal of his community's code. His characterization as a tragic hero stems from his fatal flaw (hubris), which leads to his downfall and evokes both pity and fear in the audience.

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What makes Eddie Carbone a tragic hero in A View From the Bridge?

According to Aristotle, a tragic hero is defined in part as a person who has a tragic flaw which precipitates his or her own downfall. Eddie Carbone's tragic flaw is his jealousy. He is jealous of his niece, Catherine, and this jealousy gradually destroys his relationship with his wife and eventually leads to his downfall when Catherine falls in love with another man.

When Eddie comes home one day to see Catherine and the other man, Rodolpho, emerge from the bedroom, he loses all self-control. He grabs Catherine, his niece, and kisses her forcefully on the mouth, and then he threatens Rodolpho. This is the beginning of Eddie's demise. He contacts the immigration authorities about Rodolpho, who is in the country illegally, and in doing so, he commits an act of betrayal which will ultimately see him despised and ostracized by his community.

Eddie Carbone is also a tragic hero because he is pitiful. He is, in many respects, a good man. He works hard and provides for his family. He loves his wife and has been a good father figure to his niece. He takes Rodolpho and Marco into his own home when they have nowhere else to stay, and he looks after them, at least until he discovers that Rodolpho has feelings for Catherine. When he dies in his wife's arms at the end, he is a tragically pitiful figure.

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What caused Eddie Carbone's tragedy in A View From the Bridge?

It is clear from the play that Eddie is constantly engaged in creating and protecting his own personal world of illusion where he can remain blind from the significance of his actions and his own true feelings. This is what motivates Eddie: supreme self-interest. Because of the success of his imagined world he never is truly aware of his feelings for Catherine and the only outlet he has for his feelings are invested in suspicion and hatred of Marco and Rodolpho, which causes him to commit completely irrational and unforgiveable acts. It is this that is so tragic about Eddie, and what ultimately causes his tragic end. His inability to recognise and accept the bubble world he has created causes it to turn into a prison from which he is fated never to escape. The irrational actions he starts to "protect" (as he sees it) Catherine from the attentions of Rodolpho then lead to a vain quest to regain his honour by challenging Marco, which ends in his death.

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