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Miller's Modern Greek Tragedy

‘A View from the Bridge’ is often described as a “Modern Greek Tragedy.” Discuss the elements that Miller borrowed from Greek Tragedy and how they are used to make the drama more  ffective. This play was based on a true story which Arthur Miller heard while working on the docks while living in a Brooklyn neighbourhood. A modern tragedy is created from a person’s problems with either the law or the traditions for society being altered. These events cause a breakdown in the family tradition which normally leads to the death of the main character (Protagonist).

“A View from the Bridge” is about an Italian man called Eddie Carbone, an American citizen initially from Sicily and is 40 years old. Eddie is the master of his household as he lays down the rules for both Beatrice Carbone (his wife) and Catherine (his niece). At the beginning of the play, we are given a prologue by the narrator Alfieri. Alfieri is the narrator as well as the neighbourhood lawyer and is looked highly up on as a lawyer.

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Eddie sees the law as a way to justify or rectify his feelings towards his niece Catherine, but as he soon finds out, law cannot justify the lust of one for his niece, “morally and legally you have no rights, you cannot stop it; she is a free agent.” Alfieri has no right to interfere and is deemed powerless to interrupt. Eddie has his own sense of justice which in the end leads to his fatal flaw.

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The beginning of the play is preparation and build up for the rest of the play. The beginning gives the audience an idea an insight to how the final incident occurred. The reoccuring pattern of the society is disturbed when Eddie comes home from a hard day at work, while Beatrice is looking after the house. Two things disrupt the established social order; one is Catherine announcing that her school has offered her a job. This shows that Catherine is growing up and her becoming an independent woman. This could also mean that Eddie will no longer have a fatherly hold over her. The second disruption was the arrival of Beatrice’s cousins, the two illegal immigrants; Marco and Rodolfo.

From the start of the play there is always a wrong sense of fate. It is hard for Eddie to escape his fatal flaw which is noticably Eddie lusting ove his niece. We, the audience feel sympathy for Eddie. We seem to feel sorry for him as he is just trying to protect his niece from the outside world, as he feels he is expected to do. This feeling stops when Eddie refers to Alfieri to find a law to justify how he feels for Catherine, how his feelings for her have become more than a love between an uncle and a niece. Eddies’ feeling of love has turn into a desire for Catherine. Miller also makes the chorus more effective by turning Alfieri into a character, and not just having him as a narrator but bringing him into the play with an effective role as a lawyer.

It is at the end of act 1 that we see exactly who the antagonist, Marco is. The audience sees Marco challenge Eddie to a chair- lifting contest to prove his manhood and authority, his body language tells Eddie not to touch his younger brother, who moments before got punched by Eddie. Miller makes the play more effective with the antagonist by putting him into the actual role play at the end of act 1. We are left wondering as to why Marco is there, what is his part in the drama.

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Miller's Modern Greek Tragedy. (2020, Jun 01). Retrieved from

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