Comparison of the development of tragedy in Macbeth and A View from the Bridge
This essay compares the differences and similarities in the way in which the tragedies develop in Macbeth and A View from the Bridge. Macbeth is a more intense tragedy, as innocent people die as a result of his madness, before he himself is killed. A View from the Bridge is a softer tragedy, dealing with two men who want the same lady. Straightaway, with such a high-powered storyline, Macbeth is going to be the more intense tragedy. The aim of a tragedy is to inspire a mix of emotions in the reader, where they have attachments to both sides, and to present an unfortunate sequence of events that cause an unfortunate ending. With so many more characters involved in Macbeth and a much longer sequence of events, it can be considered better at creating a mix of emotion in people, and thus might be considered the better tragedy.
Both of the primary victims in Macbeth and A View from the Bridge performed a favour for the individual that murdered them, which adds to the tragedy. In Macbeth, Macbeth murders King Duncan in order to become king. King Duncan refers to Macbeth as his ‘worthiest kinsman’ and his ‘worthy Cawdor’ after he made Macbeth thane of Cawdor, which was a rank of nobility. Furthermore, upon staying within the Macbeth household, Duncan ‘granted many gifts’. He presented a diamond to Lady Macbeth for her ‘boundless hospitality’. This makes Duncan’s death evermore tragic and unjust, as he did not deserve to die. Similarly, in A View from the Bridge, Eddie offers two illegal immigrants a place to stay in his home while they find work, and insists he has to ‘buy a tablecloth’ to make his guests feel more welcome. Yes, Eddie’s relationship with Roldolpho sours, but his initial welcoming was an act of kindness. In both Macbeth and A View from the Bridge, the story started off well.
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During the development of the tragedies, Eddie went against advice from Alferi, which was to leave Catherine and Roldolpho to it. Had Eddie taken this advice, he would likely still be alive, so ignoring the advice lead to his demise. Contrarily, it can be argued that Macbeth took a lot of advice from Lady Macbeth and bended to her will. Macbeth was very uncertain about taking this advice, as he considered his loyalty to Duncan as his ‘kinsman and his subject’, and recognised that Duncan had his own noble qualities, as he ‘[h]ath borne his faculties so meek’. Had Macbeth not taken this advice and listened to himself, he would probably also still be alive. This is a difference in the development of the tragedies because both victims took opposite decisions, but ultimately ended up with the same fate.
Macbeth was killed by Macduff, because previously Macbeth had murdered Lady Macduff and their children. Macbeth had not harmed Macduff himself, so he had not directly attacked the man who killed him, but the people who were close to him. Marco killed Eddie, though Eddie had not had problems with Marco, only Roldolpho. Thus, both characters were killed by people they had not directly attacked. This adds to the tragedy in both cases because it might cause the viewer to have some sympathy for the victim, or sympathy for the murderers who acted out of revenge in both cases.
More sympathy might be afforded for Eddie than Macbeth, because the fate that Eddie got was not one he had inflicted on anyone else. While he lunged at Marco with a knife, it could have been that he was acting out of self-defence. However, Macbeth had ordered the deaths of absolutely innocent people. Lady Macduff, her children, Banquo and Duncan and the chamberlains, and had planned to kill other innocent people – Macduff and Fleance. Thus, in this case, it could be argued that Macbeth’s fate was a certain kind of karma. The same cannot be said for Eddie in A View from a Bridge, so this might cause the reader to have more sympathy for Eddie than more Macbeth.
Macbeth focuses more on the depths of despair that its characters fall into more than A View from a Bridge. Lady Macbeth’s personal tragedy is explained, her blood-stained hands and her dreams and her eventual suicide may make the reader feel her tragedy as well as her husband’s. Duncan’s fall into the depths of despair are also poetically made apparent, through soliloquies and expressions such as ‘Will all Neptune’s great ocean wash this blood’, which is the expression of Duncan’s blood on his hands that haunts Macbeth throughout the play. The reader isn’t given the same insight into the raw mix of emotions in each character in A View from the Bridge, so the same mix of opinions of the characters is difficult to achieve.
To conclude, while there are similarities and differences between the development of tragedy in both Macbeth and A View from a Bridge, Macbeth gives a much fuller and complex development of tragedy. It has so many elements in its plot and unfortunates in the sequence of events that lead to the end that it is difficult to fully explore its development of tragedy in comparison with such a short book.