The play, ‘A View from a Bridge’, by Author Miller has the theme of a Modern Greek tragedy. A Greek tragedy is a play where fate runs it’s ‘bloody course’, which will lead to the tragic hero’s downfall. A tragic hero is usually a character of noble stature. Just like all people, tragic heroes aren’t perfect but what separates them from the others is that they have a hamartia, a tragic flaw. This flaw will be the cause of the downfall for the tragic hero. Eddie Carbone is somewhat a tragic hero. He doesn’t fit as a tragic hero because in the play, he is a normal longshoreman, which is fairly ordinary in Red Hook. Just like all men, ”he worked on the piers when there was work, he brought home his pay, and he lived.” He doesn’t have a high status position. On the other hand, he can still be categorized as a tragic hero because he has a tragic flaw and an inevitable downfall. In the start of the play, he is also respected, just like a tragic hero.
Eddie’s tragic flaw is how much he loves Catherine. His fate is unavoidable due to the tragic flaw in his personality. His unnatural love for Catherine made him jealous of Rodolpho. This again is a device used in Greek tragedy, and can be described as a weakness of the tragic hero. This is a feature that all tragic heroes have; hence they are called “tragic” heroes. At the start, the tragic hero will be a good person. In the play’s case, Miller portrayed Eddie in the beginning of the play as a loving and caring man. He loves Catherine a lot. He said, “I want you to be in a nice office.” This shows that he cares a lot for Catherine and her future. At this stage, the audience should see Eddie as a respectable man.
Miller also uses the technique of foreshadowing to imply to the audience that betrayal is going to happen. Miller used the ‘Vinny Bolzano’ example. Vinny “snitches” on his own uncle. In the play, Eddie said “…. hidin’ in the house and he snitched to the Immigration.” Catherine’s response was fairly surprised. She said “What, was he crazy?”. Vinny Bolzano was publicly humiliated by his own family and shunned from the community. He was not seen in the area since. .
Miller added this to foreshadow the fact that Eddie is going to do something similar in the play. This is also an example of how the community functions. They believed that ‘snitching’ is always bad therefore he got punished for it, although the actual law will find it as a righteous act. Eddie tells Catherine that “you can quicker get back a million dollars that was stole than a word that you gave away”, and with this advice, Eddie gains the audience’s respect. It is also ironic because later on in the play, Eddie “snitches” on Marco and Roldopho. This loses all sympathy and respect towards Eddie.
In the play, Alfieri’s role in the Greek Tragedy is a chorus. Alfieri refers to fate’s “bloody course”, which immediately brings us to the thought of destiny or fate. This is an ominous statement as it gives the sense that unavoidable tragedy will happen, and he is won’t be able to change the outcome. Alfieri said “heard the same complaint and sat there, as powerless as I”. This proves that he is merely a bystander looking at something way out of control. He also said “I could see every step coming, step after step, like a dark figure walking down a hall to a certain door”, which reinforces Eddie’s fate that awaits him.
Eddie’s tragic flaw is soon exposed, as he will not accept the love between Catherine and Rodolpho. As Eddie realizes that their relationship is becoming more serious, he degrades Rodolpho by questioning his sexuality. While Eddie was talking to Beatrice, he says that Rodolpho is “like a chorus girl or sump’m”. Eddie infers that Rodolpho is less of a man. Since it didn’t work, Eddie took matters up to Alfieri. Eddie told Alfieri that Rodolpho “ain’t right”. He is trying to get the law on his side. Once Eddie is frustrated, he says, he’s stealing from me!”. This shows that deep down, Eddie believes that Catherine belongs to him.
Eddie starts to show his jealous side by telling Catherine that Rodolpho wants Catherine only in order to become an American citizen. He told Catherine that Rodolpho is “only bowin’ to his passport”. Eddie still wants Catherine therefore he challenges Rodolpho directly by teaching him how to box. Miller demonstrates the tension between them through the stage directions. For example, Eddie hits Rodolpho, which “mildly staggers him”. It seems that Eddie needs to prove himself to be manlier than Rodolpho. This is also the beginning of his downfall. Marco then challenged Eddie by picking up the chair. This grows the tension between them, foreshadowing that something bad will happen.
In the final scene, in which Eddie died in, it is also very similar to Greek tragedy. The tragic hero will die reconciled with others and will end regretfully to his actions. Miller conveys Eddie’s remorse and had him reconcile with Beatrice as he cries “My B.! My B.”, and dies in her arms. Eddie also dies in his own hands. He brings the knife into the duel, therefore it would seem, like most tragic heroes, Eddie is the cause of his own destruction. This gives the play a more complete ending. All problems have been solved.
Then again, it can be argued that Eddie is different from a tragic hero because at times he appears to have more control over his actions than a tragic hero does. For example, Eddie was driven to call the Immigration Bureau because of his love for Catherine. Alfieri presents him with another option, to “let her go. And bless her.” It seems like Eddie has selected his route, which lead to his downfall, whereas traditional tragic heroes usually don’t have an alternative option. This is unsympathetic because he had another option, but it was his choice not to take it. Not only did he betray Rodolpho and Marco, he also betrayed his community. He lost all his respect and reputation.
In conclusion, Eddie is very similar to a traditional tragic hero from Greek tragedy. His tragic flaw drives him to desperate actions, and in this case he cannot let Catherine go. Fate “runs its bloody course” as the inevitable death of Eddie is shown. Eddie is stubborn and refuses to “settle for half”, constantly wanting something he can’t have. His tragic flaw leads the fateful path to his death.