A View from the Bridge. Although Eddie is a good man, how do his weaknesses destroy him?

Authors Avatar

20th Century Drama Coursework [First Draft]

Arta Ajeti 11B.2

Although Eddie is a good man, how do his weaknesses destroy him?

The play ‘A View from the Bridge’ by Arthur Miller centres on the Carbone family living in 1950’s New York City. Within the tragic plotline, Arthur Miller vividly illustrates how an individual’s life can be crippled under the weight of their own personality flaws. Miller intertwines this central notion with how personal obsessions, relationship issues and distrust explain the self destruction of the protagonist, Eddie Carbone; a second generation Italian – American and a hardworking longshoreman who attempts to provide his niece, Catherine, with a better and brighter future. With the arrival of Rodolfo and Marco, his obsessive love for Catherine causes him to subconsciously behave in a jealous and selfish manner, and due to his inability to understand his emotions, Eddie is in denial of his irrational actions. It is consequently Eddie’s weaknesses that destroy him both emotionally and fatally, even supposing he is a good man. But how do they destroy him, and how much blame can we put on his weaknesses for the tragic outcome of the play?

Despite the unscrupulous acts Eddie commits at the very end of this tragedy, he is still considered to be a good man throughout. In ‘A View from the Bridge’, Eddie works strenuously at the piers of Red Hook to sustain his current lifestyle, even supposing it may be recognised as quite basic - “He worked…he brought home his pay, and he lived.” In addition, the fact that he rations his earnings to both retain a simple life and support and provide an education his niece indicates that Eddie is in fact a good man with good intentions - “Look, did I ask you for money? I supported you this long I support you a little more.” The family’s low socio-economical status also illustrates the harsh conditions he endures every day and under such circumstances, we acknowledge that he has sacrificed much to allow Catherine to grow up well. His ambitions for her to become a college girl convey his desire for her to live comfortably, have a better chance in life and become a successful woman. He has dreams that she would work “…in a nice office. Maybe a lawyer’s office someplace in New York in one of them nice buildings”.  Therefore Eddie does in fact wish for his niece to live a happy and comfortable life in the future.

However, although he unquestionably does want the best for his niece, he is very protective of her. This is evident when he strongly disapproves the way Catherine dresses, fearing that she may be taken advantage of by local men – “I don’t like the looks they’re givin’ you in the candy store.”  Being over-protective is a typical trait that most parents develop as their children grow older and more mature, but to what extent would it be considered ‘normal’? Catherine is not even related to him and, under the surface of his good intentions of protecting his niece so that she does not get hurt, it could just be that Eddie is acting overprotective to mask the fact that he wants to keep her all to himself.

In the opening stages of the play, Miller establishes Eddie as a character who is undoubtedly in love with his niece via his speech and the stage directions – “(Eddie is pleased and therefore shy about it)”. His small and subtle reactions would be picked up on by the audience in a performance of the play, and they would begin to understand the nature of his character as well as his weaknesses and strengths. As the play moves on, the audience start to notice that Eddie is quite a selfish character; he desires everything to proceed according to his liking – “I do what I feel like doin’ or what I don’t feel like doin’.”  In the event of Catherine finding a job, Eddie immediately disapproves the notion of her working before graduation – “What job? She’s gonna finish school.” Although this decision conveys his desire for her to live comfortably in the future, it also displays his selfish nature; that of wanting everything to go his way. His greed is primarily based upon his desire to satisfy his infatuated love for his niece and not ever let her get out of his reach, and additionally during this conversation Eddie excessively uses the first person pronoun “I”;  “That ain’t what I wanted”, “I don’t like that neighbourhood.”, revealing his egotistical nature. This conversation also suggests that Eddie Carbone is a figure who desires everything to comply according to the blueprint layout fixated in his mind. Essentially, this is a selfish desire and his inability to cope with change or things not going his way uncover what his mind is fixated on at the moment; to have Catherine all to himself. Subsequently, the decisions he makes later on are simply made so that he does not lose her, without thinking of the consequences they will lead to.

Join now!

Moreover, throughout the play, Eddie addresses Catherine as either a “kid” or a “baby”. This use of terms is indicative that Eddie wants Catherine to be the young girl that always loved him, but it is apparent that she is growing up and being more independent. His selfish desire is again emphasised by his disapproval of Catherine’s dress code, claiming that she is “…walking wavy”. His disgust for her wearing high heels or short skirts is due to the fact that it symbolises and advertises her adult sexuality and consequently he fears the possibility that another man will become interested ...

This is a preview of the whole essay