In Act One of ‘A View from the Bridge’, Alfieri says, ‘Eddie Carbone never expected to have a destiny’. How does Arthur Miller create the feeling that Eddie’s tragic fate is inevitable? From the outset of the play, the audience sense something bad will happen to the protagonist, Eddie Carbone, as by the end of Alfieri’s first speech he says, “sat there as powerless as I, and watched it run its bloody course”; consequently the audience anticipate a ‘bloody’ outcome to the play.
When we are introduced to Eddie Carbone his character is ‘highlighted among them’, signifying the bloody conclusion will apply to him.
During the play, despite Alfieri’s best attempts, the series of events that follow are inevitable and the audience almost expect these events due to the numerous dramatic devices and hints and insights Alfieri provides. One of the most significant devices that help create the feeling Eddie’s fate will be inevitable is the role of Alfieri.
Alfieri has an unbiased view on the situation being a lawyer, subsequently gaining the audiences trust. The lawyer foreshadows Eddie’s fatal ending in the play from the start, and is used as a narrator to give insights about forthcoming events and to reflect on their significance.
Immediately Alfieri tells the audience “something amusing has happened”, so the audience know he is describing the past, and a series of events that have already taken place. In his opening speech he says: “to meet a lawyer on the street is unlucky”, which implies Eddie will have bad luck.
‘Run their bloody course’ suggests these events were predestined and inevitable. He appears at critical points in the play to emphasise Eddie’s deterioration and at one point near the end he says; “pray for him”, to show he knows Eddie has an inevitable, tragic fate.
Alfieri tells the audience his practise is “entirely unromantic”, “that his clients are prepared to settle for half”, but he uses the words “and yet… ” in the final paragraph to prepare the audience for something different. His sentence is deliberately awkward and he brings back the past to suggest the story will be disastrous. Alfieri is involved in the drama like a normal character when Eddie went to his office to try and persuade him that Rodolfo is only marrying Catherine for a passport into the country.
However, he still does not abandon his narrative role and the audience can sense his certainty of disaster. He heightens the tragedy and one of the key themes, fate. In that scene Alfieri realises why Eddie has waited so long at the office, but he is unable to break the grip of fate. He recognises the awful change that has come over Eddie and he is “almost transfixed” and has lost his strength. The inevitability of the tragedy is shown when Alfieri wants to call the police, ‘spread alarm’, though nothing has happened.
At numerous times during the play, Alfieri tries to warn Eddie but he refuses to acknowledge what is being suggested and becomes hostile. Alfieri describes Eddie’s appearance at their first meeting, “his eyes were like tunnels, my first thought was that he had committed a crime, but soon I saw it was only a passion that had moved into his body, like a stranger”. The ‘eyes like tunnels’ signifies Eddie can only see one thing and cannot see things around him, (tunnel vision). It is a striking simile used to suggest tragedy and that Eddie cannot escape the inevitable as he is on a one way track.
“My first thought was that he committed a crime” shows guilt and makes the audience anticipate a crime Eddie may later commit. In ‘A View from the Bridge’, Miller exploits the conventions of a traditional Greek tragedy; at the start of the play the hero, in this case being Eddie, is happy, but he becomes increasingly unhappy as his fate takes a turn for the worst. Eddie is a straightforward man who ‘worked on the piers when there was work, he brought home his pay, and he lived’; and he is portrayed generous in anticipating the arrival of his wife’s cousins.
However, he is extremely over-protective over his niece, Catherine, and it is this urge to protect her and stop her from discovering her independence, that makes him sensitive to the presence of Beatrice’s cousins – especially Rodolfo whom Catherine appears to be attracted to. Eddie goes to Alfieri to try and get Rodolfo imprisoned for using Catherine as a passport into the country, yet Alfieri hits a nerve saying “but she can’t marry you, can she? ” Alfieri knows Eddie’s love for Catherine and consequently his inevitable fate because of it.
Eddie was even prepared to commit the most terrible betrayal of his community and much loved family, threatening his name and valued reputation, which he held so dear to break up Catherine and Rodolfo. Eddie had a fatal flaw in his character, which lead to his downfall. He had too much pride to admit he was wrong. Eddie was murdered with his own blade in a fight to win back his honour in the eyes of his neighbourhood; however this tragic fate was inevitable from the beginning.
He pride was what drove him and in the end it was a decision between his pride or death. Eddie was to blame for his death as he got too emotionally involved in other peoples business and wrote his own destiny as he resisted the natural course of things, ‘a rive will drown you if you buck now’, and intervened. Throughout the play Eddie was constantly undermining Rodolfo and challenging him, trying to put him down to prove to Catherine he was not worthy of her love.
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