In this essay I will explain how Arthur Miller creates the feeling that a tragedy is inevitable. The impending tragedy becomes more and more apparent towards the end of the play, as there are more hints to suggest this fact. I will explain how Eddie’s incestuous desire for his niece Catherine, how Eddie’s relationship with his illegal immigrant cousins-in-law, Marco and Rodolfo and how Eddie is portrayed as a “good man”, bring about his downfall.
Alfieri plays the ‘chorus’ who tells the story of “A View from the Bridge” in a series of flashbacks through a first person narrative, which prompts the end of one scene and beginning of another. Through this technique Miller has created a perspective that serves to enhance the sense of tragedy that develops as the play progresses. In Alfieri’s first speech the tragedy theme is revealed through a series of hints, one of which says, “sat there as powerless as I, and watched it run its bloody course”, which gives the impression that the following events are inevitable, as he has no power to prevent them happening. It also implies that the events that will take place are of a gruesome and “bloody” nature, which suggests a murder of some kind.
When Alfieri says “A lawyer is the law, and in Sicily, from where their fathers came, the law has not been a friendly idea since the Greeks were beaten” it suggests that justice will be served for what happened to the Greeks and the tragedy is inevitable as the wheels were set into motion along time ago, which hints that history and culture will play a significant role in the reasons for the tragedy.
When we first meet Eddie Carbone he is talking to his niece, Catherine. He and his wife Beatrice have become surrogate parents to her. Eddie shows very strong emotions towards Catherine, in some ways too strong for their relationship. When Eddie says, “You been givin’ me the willies the way you walk down the street, I mean it” “I’m telling you your walkin” wavy”, it suggests that Eddie does not want her revealing her body to everyone, which implies that Eddie cares for Catherine and he also says, referring to her skirt, “I think it’s too short, ain’t it?”. Reinforcing the fact that Eddie cares for Catherine, he calls her “Beautiful”. With all these statements in mind it does hint that he has stronger feelings for her than he should. Later on in the play, through Eddie’s actions and various clues from other characters, Eddie’s passionate feelings towards Catherine are exposed.
When Catherine is offered a job as a stenographer, Eddie becomes very over-protective, saying “No – no, you gonna finish school”. Beatrice finally persuades Eddie to let her take the job, but the problems go deeper. Beatrice is fully aware of Eddie’s more disturbing and deeper feelings towards Catherine and wonders when she is “gonna be a wife again” this implies that the sexual part of marriage has broken down. The tragedy arises when Eddie cannot admit his deeper feelings towards Catherine.
The story of the tragedy of Vinny Bolzano plays a pivotal role, as it indicates what will happen later in the play. It is not by accident that Miller made Eddie tell the Vinny Bolzano story, as it seems ironic that later, Eddie does exactly what he called “crazy”. This shows that when Eddie eventually phones the Immigration Bureau it goes against all his morals and beliefs. This shows that even his morals cannot prevent the tragedy happening, which suggests that he was led to desperation.
Eddie’s family respect his authority, demonstrating that they live in a “man-dominated” society – more so than we do now – where the man goes out to work and brings back the money while the woman cooks, cleans, caters to the mans every whim. This is emphasized when Eddie says, “Katie give them supper, heh?”. Eddie can be very demanding at times, such as, “what happened to the coffee?”. Eddie regularly belittles Rodolfo and puts him down all the time by saying, “Hey, kid – hey,”.
Towards the end of Act one, Beatrice seems to side with Catherine over Eddie’s distrust towards Rodolfo, which reinforces the fact that the Carbone’s marriage is breaking down, it is also emphasized when Beatrice says to Eddie “you gonna drive me crazy” then Eddie turns and walks out “striving to retain his dignity”, this shows that there is a lot of tension between Beatrice and Eddie. It appears that Eddie was also quite surprised that Beatrice was standing up for herself, because before Marco and Rodolfo arrived he was greatly revered. I see this as the beginning of the end for Eddie, as the only thing he has is his respect and dignity, which is slowly being taken from him. Beatrice then tells Catherine that she should do what she wants, because if it was up to Eddie she would be a “maid” in his house, so she tells Catherine that she must “say goodbye”, in spite of Eddies wishes, so it will inevitably end with Eddie getting hurt.