Many may feel sorry for Eddie even without the chorus, Alfieri, being there to lead the audience though the play. In the beginning of the play, when Beatrice tells Eddie, “She’s got a job.” (p. 18), Eddie seems shocked and says to Catherine “It’s not wonderful…You can’t take no job. Why didn’t you ask me before you take a job?” (p. 18). This quote shows the audience that Eddie disapproves of this and does not want his niece to leave him, even though Beatrice and Catherine had wanted Eddie to be happy about this. When Beatrice tells Eddie that Catherine will earn “fifty dollars a week” (p. 18), Eddie is taken aback and his jealousy of Catherine earning more than he does becomes more and more obvious throughout the conversation. Later on in the discussion, Eddie says “I want you to be in a nice office. Maybe a lawyer’s office someplace in New York in one of them nice buildings.” (p. 19). This contradicts what Alfieri says in his introduction to the play – “In this neighbourhood to meet a lawyer or a priest on the street is unlucky. We’re only thought of in connexion with disasters, and they’d rather not get too close.” (p. 11). Later on in the play, when Catherine fell in love with Eddie, Eddie gets even more envious and angry. In his conversation with Catherine, he says “He [Rodolpho] marries you he’s go the right to be an American citizen…The guy is lookin’ for his break, that’s all he’s lookin’ for.” (p. 41). This shows how angry Eddie is at the fact that Catherine likes Rodolpho, and not him. Miller helps the audience sympathise with Eddie in this scene by making Catherine trust Rodolpho instead of Eddie.
To a modern audience, there may be some features in Eddie that are hard not to dislike. His flaw involves love for a girl he has raised as if she was his own daughter, a terrible taboo. Also, Eddie is a parental figure who seems to expect women to do domestic work for him. Tragic heroes usually recognise their own mistakes. In Greek tragedies, this is the moment in a play when the tragic hero appreciates their own weakness and their own responsibility. However, throughout the play, Eddie does not admit to himself the truth about loving Catherine. Although Beatrice tries to make him face this truth by saying “You want somethin’ else, Eddie and you can never have her” (p. 83), Eddie seems truly shocked and grasps his head “as though it would burst” (p. 83). All throughout the play, Eddie never really seems capable of facing what he feels or admitting his responsibility. Even in the end of the play, Eddie says, “Marco, tell them what a liar you are!” (p. 84)
To try and prevent the audience from making harsh judgements of Eddie, Miller uses Alfieri as a type of ‘chorus’ in the play. In Greek tragedies, the chorus are observers who judge actions fairly. They help the audience to consider the elements of the play. As the chorus, Alfieri sympathises with Eddie, along with the audience. He expresses his feelings and thoughts to the audience about what happens throughout the play and provides judgement. In the play, Alfieri suggests that it is normal and human to sin. He also states that many people have hidden guilty secrets but there is something beautiful in a man whose sins are so public and so clear that he becomes “wholly known” (p. 85). Before Eddie calls the immigration department, Alfieri warns him that “even those who understand will turn against you” (p. 67), which shows that Eddie’s weakness is not special, but that other people still will judge him. Then, with Eddie dying on stage, Alfieri ends the play by saying, “I confess that something perversely pure calls to me from his [Eddie’s] memory…for he allowed himself to be wholly known and for that I think I will love him…” (p. 85) In other words, since we all have guilty secrets but manage to keep them hidden inside, there is something quite pure in a person whose guilty secrets are not unknown. An oxymoron Miller used, “perversely pure” (p. 85), shows that Alfieri wants us to think about our own weaknesses and not judge Eddie too harshly.
Another common feature of Greek tragedy is that the death should seem predictable, and that it cannot be stopped. Miller uses Alfieri to suggest this to the audience, as if it is out of control of the character. Right from the beginning, Miller makes it obvious that Eddie would die in the end. Alfieri keeps giving clues to the audience about Eddie being destined to die, saying he felt “powerless... and watched it run its bloody course.” (p. 12) Another quote from Alfieri is, “I knew where he [Eddie] was heading for, I knew where he was going to end.” (p. 50) These quotes make us feel more pity for Eddie because, even when he seems happy and loving, we still know he is heading towards a “bloody” (p. 12) end.
Miller successfully makes Eddie a sympathetic character by making him fit the tragic hero he is supposed to be. The audience goes from admiring Eddie to getting to know his terrible guilty secret. Through the whole play we get the unescapable feeling that he is heading towards his “bloody” end and that it is his ‘guilty secret’ that will cause it. Although for some modern theatre audiences, Eddie may seem to be an old-fashioned man and although he never really admits his own faults, Miller uses Alfieri’s character to make sure we can still feel the intended pity. I think this is Miller’s greatest achievement in this play, reminding us that we are all human, guilty in some ways, and that we should feel sorry for ourselves and Eddie for that.
Word Count: 1,000
Here's what a star student thought of this essay
Quality of writing
Quality of Writing The candidate's essay is of a high standard, with excellent quality of written communication. Quotations are integrated into sentences well, making for a much better flowing essay, for example "Beatrice tries to make him face this truth by saying Ã¢â‚¬Å“You want somethinÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ else..."". However, providing page references is not necessary, as examiners are unlikely to check the quotations used (but do not use this as an excuse to misquote!) and depending on the edition of the text, the page numbers for the quotes used may be different. The referencing of Aristotle's definition of tragedy is a good technique, showing a strong candidate and learning to reference properly will stand students in good stead for further and higher education.
Level of analysis
Level of Analysis The candidate's analysis of the text is excellent. The candidate uses a lot of quotations to support their arguments with between 2-6 quotes per paragraph, showing a solid knowledge of the text. The use of the Point, Evidence, Analysis formula also demonstrates a higher level candidate, and an example of the analytical part of the PEA formula is "This quote shows the audience that Eddie disapproves of this..." In this, the candidate is explaining the effect that the line has on the audience, marking them out as an A or A* student.
Response to question
Response to Question In this question, it is very important candidates read the question carefully, and focus on the ways in which Miller makes Eddie a sympathetic character, and not if this is the case or not. This candidate succeeds in this, examining the techniques used by Miller to characterise Eddie in a very extensive and developed way. The inclusion of Aristotle's definition of tragedy also shows depth and further research, signalling to examiners that this is a very strong candidate.