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Discussing how effectively Arthur Miller manages to portray Eddie Carbone as a tragic character in his play, “a View from the Bridge” Arthur Miller, the author of the play, is a very modern writer and likes to base his plays around ordinary people. Eddie Carbone is a forty, husky and a slightly overweight longshoreman. When we hear those customary words, we get the feeling the character Eddie Carbone is a normal middle aged man.
Nevertheless even though Eddie Carbone is pictured as a usual, typical man in our minds, he isn’t. We know this because Alfieri, a character from the play who acts like Arthur Millers mouthpiece and is the narrator, tells us the audience that the play will “run its bloody course”.
Alfieri had said these words in the past tense so therefore we can interpret that everything has already happened and we are getting told the story by Alfieri.
We are been given his “view”. As soon as Alfieri has said these four words we automatically know that this story will be a tragic, catastrophic one. Since Eddie is the Protagonist, we know that something tragic will happen to Eddie so that doesn’t make him normal anymore.
Most narratives give us a cheerful outline of the story but this one is entirely diverse. We can imagine it will be tragic just because of the four words Alfieri has said.
By reading the first page or two of the play we can get some hints. First of all we can try to understand what Eddie’s fate will be like; heart-rending. Secondly if his fate is tragic we expect death as we associate tragedy with death or something which is extremely sad.
According to the rules of the Greek writer Aristotle, the character Eddie Carbone is not promising material for a tragic hero. This is because Eddie Carbone is simply ordinary. According to Aristotle, real tragic heroes must have certain qualities. Most of which Eddie Carbone does not possess because of his ordinariness. Tragic heroes must have qualities, such as being a noble leader and having a potential for greatness. He should be great and have people looking up to him so then the audience will begin to like him and therefore understand him. Usually it will be a man because in Greek drama and Shakespearian times, the protagonist was usually a man. The tragic hero also is given poetic verses to show his good upbringing and a rich family could afford to give him an education. When such characters experience a downfall the effects are suffered by many due to the high status of the character.
The audience of the play must feel pity, sympathy and empathy for the tragic hero so we understand him and we could also share his pain with him in a way. It will make the audience feel as if they are actually in the play and they feel for the character. The tragic story must end with death because that’s the whole point of the play and will give it that sense of waste. So therefore there must be a downfall.
The causes are that there maybe a flaw or maybe fate gets in the way. An example of fate getting in the way was William Shakespeare’s play “Romeo and Juliet”. The downfall may happen because of a coincidence or sometimes the scheming of others. When the tragic hero dies, we feel a sense of waste as we loose a piece of the jigsaw and that piece was greatness. Before the end of the play that protagonist must have a self realisation and must realise how foolish he has been. This is because they realise all their mistakes just before they die and this makes the story sadder and tragic by the protagonist realising he was wrong in whatever he did and then he must die as well. With the qualities and setting listed above, a play will be tragic if followed.
In this case though “a view from the bridge”; Arthur Miller did not give the protagonist any tragic hero qualities. He is very normal and he is still a tragic hero in his own ways. Eddie Carbone is very limited character as he is only ‘powerful’ in his own house. Unlike most tragic heroes, he does not talk in poetic verses; he actually talks in an inarticulate manner of speech. For example; “you got too big a heart, what’re you so touchy heh” and “don’t trust nobody”.
Because of his bad grammar he doesn’t make sense at times and this shows what kind of upbringing he had yet he does try to make clear points. His character also has a lack of nobility and high status because his only a normal middle aged man. His character is too clumsy to be noble because he goes to the law just because his niece is in love. If he was noble and high status he would get a sword or something and slash the throat of his enemy but he goes to a lawyer which shows how ordinary and weak he is. It may emphasise how weak he is. Nevertheless he is at the same a time a much respected member of the neighbourhood because of his street smartness and he is against snitching which is good to the neighbourhood.
His diction does have liveliness and a force. We can tell this because Beatrice and Catherine do what he says most of the time. Also Alfieri reminds us of his essential goodness; “he was a good man as he had to be in a life that was hard and even. He worked on the piers when there was work, he brought home his pay, and he lived. And toward ten o’clock of that night, after they had eaten, the cousins came.” Alfieri basically tells us all how good Eddie was no matter what and how kind he was and how he cared for his family. There are other aspects of the play’s main character and its structure that make it possible to view the drama as tragic. Arthur Miller admired Greek drama and has used some elements in “A view from the bridge”.