Miller’s A View from the Bridge, originally written in 1956 as a one act play, has many features of a classic Greek tragedy. It is set in the Italian-American neighbourhood, situated in Red Hook, near Brooklyn Bridge in New York. It is in this community Miller chooses to dramatise themes of conflict, betrayal, love and obsession. The underlying omerta is present throughout the play and is the reason for the conflict as it is defied by Eddie Carbone, the Italian longshoreman, who destroys himself in a clash between his blind passions and primeval ideas of his own people about right living.
In Eddie, Miller creates the classic Italian-American ‘family man’ who strives to be head of the household and goes about with a sense of pride and familial duty. Eddie feels it is his duty to look after his family and keep to his word as he says, ‘Katie I promised your mother on her deathbed. I'm responsible for you’. It is evident that family is very important and he has very strong family values to which he endeavours to keep, a sign of the Italian family where the man feels it is his duty to keep his word and look after the entire family, as he is the head of the household. This accentuates the concept of masculinity which is further enforced by Eddie’s old fashioned views, his inability to understand the younger generation and also the conflict of interest of duty to family between Eddie and Rodolfo. Eddie, the ‘respectable family man’ feels no honour for Rodolfo who buys, with his first money, ‘a snappy new jacket …, records [whilst] his brother’s kids are starvin’ with tuberculosis.’ He feels that as Rodolfo has none of his own family, he should help his brother who is also a family man. This underscores the fact that in Eddie’s mind, to be respected, you need to be a ‘true man’, look after your family. He is unable to understand the changing society and how it is acceptable to provide less for your non-immediate family and it is this conflict of duty which creates the tragedy.
The fact men demand respect continually is a key factor in the creation of a tragedy and the tragic hero. Eddie constantly demands respect from everyone around him: Beatrice, his friends; his society. This is obviously evident where he says, ‘I want my respect!’ Respect means a lot to the head of the household, and when he feels his respect is in question, he demands it. The tone he uses is imperative and, coupled with the exclamation mark at the end of the phrase; this highlights his burning desire for it and to gain it back again. Although, in the context, he says this after he has turned in Marco and Rodolfo, so it could be that he is questioning himself and possibly feels that he has lost all respect for himself as he has gone against the sacred omerta to prevent his own secrets being disclosed, underlining his passion to stay the family man and keep the respect of his peers.
Eddie’s greatest and most important fatal flaw is his own pride. This is also apparent when...