By the end of the play do you find yourself sympathizing with Eddie or criticizing him? Give full reasons for your views.
Essentially by the end of the play I find myself sympathizing with Eddie and to an extent criticizing him. By sympathizing with Eddie, I believe, is what is intended from the audience by Arthur Miller as A View from the Bridge (AVFTB) is Greek tragedy given to the common man; and a Greek tragedy is expected to arouse two main emotions; one being pity.
Criticizing Eddie seems like the easy thing to do as he is brings his ultimate fate all upon himself. In the beginning of the play he blatantly assumes Rodolpho is homosexual as he repeatedly reiterates in the book ‘he just aint right’ and in scene two he ‘suddenly kisses him’. This in turn angers Catherine whom is turned against Eddie. Catherine was firstly very subservient towards Eddie ‘lighting his cigar’ and wanting to please him by saying ‘I don’t know what you want from me’. However, throughout the play in a dominant perspective Catherine is seen to be more independent, whereas in a feminist point of view Catherine is merely shifting her dependence onto another male figure. Roldolpho. This is seen by the fact that she asks Roldolpho to ‘teach [her]’ and ‘hold [her]’. Eddie then becomes jealous as he says that Rodolpho is only ‘bowing to his passport,’ the jealousy builds up to the point that Eddie physically attacks Rodolpho by punching him. This act would then lead Marco to protect his younger brother and threaten Eddie by ‘raising the chair over his head’ illustrating a power shift in the play. At this point Marco is pitted against Eddie and it is the start towards Eddie’s ultimate downfall.
The ultimate critique towards Eddie comes from his hamartia, the incestuous feelings for his niece. His over protective tendencies such as ‘I can tell you things about Louis that make you not wanna wave to him no more’ and telling her to stop ‘walkin wavy’ could be signs of jealousy or fatherly protectiveness. However when he ‘kisses her on the mouth’ it is an act of ownership that make the audience aware of his ’perversely pure’ emotions. This is reinforced with Beatrice’s and Eddie’s deteriorating relationship as she confronts him and says ‘you’ll never have her.’ The peripeteia in the play is also all Eddie’s fault which leads us to criticize him as he made the phone call to the immigration bureau even though it is against all the justice of being a Sicilian immigrant as in the beginning Eddie explains the story of ‘Vinny Bolzano’. It was a self-destructive act driven by pure emotion leading inevitably to his death. This in turn forces the audience to criticize his doings.
There is irony in Eddie’s death as it was his own hand that killed him. Eddie ‘brought out a knife’ and the blade was ‘turned inward pressing it home.’ The use of the diction home insinuates that it was the fate drawn out for Eddie and it was where the knife belonged in the end. However we do sympathize with Eddie when his last words were ‘My B!’ and he ‘dies in her arms.’ This shows that Beatrice was his real love, therefore Catherine did not mean as much to him as the audience thought. This realization of where his true loyalties lie evoke pity from the audience as we have mistrusted his thoughts and criticized him so heavily on his wrong doings.
From the start of the play Eddie was introduce with ‘this one’s name was Eddie Carbone’ the obvious use of past tense already give the sense of the inevitable and he ‘never expected to have a destiny’ imply how Eddie’s fate is mapped out for him and he cannot change it. Furthermore Eddie is helpless thus the audience feels sympathetic. Eddie is also a good man, ‘opening up his home’ for Marco and Rodolpho and reassuring Beatrice that she’s got ‘such a big heart.’ He worked hard for his family and would do anything for them. This creates a sense of admiration towards Eddie that the audience does admire and finally sympathize with as he dies.
Alfieri’s last speech does in a sense summarize the emotions we feel towards Eddie. He was ‘not purely good, but himself purely’ indicating how Eddie’s incestuous emotions may not of been acceptable but they were his emotions and he is human for thinking that way. He could not fully suppress his feelings to fit social norms thus he acted out towards it and did not ‘settle for half’ even though ‘we like it better.’ Eddie was Romantic as he was driven by the absolute truth of emotion to gain revenge. The audience can accept that and find a beauty in someone not compromising between what society thinks is right and what one really feels.
Fundamentally towards the end of the play it was Arthur Miller’s intention that the death of Eddie evokes pity on the audience as it is in the guidelines for a Greek tragedy to do so. Thus I do mainly sympathize with Eddie and like Alfieri ‘I mourn him, I must admit with a certain…alarm.’