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Eddie Carbone is the tragic protagonist of The View from the Bridge. He is constantly self-interested, wanting to promote and protect his innocence. Eddie creates a fictional fantasy world where his absurd decisions make sense—where calling the Immigration Bureau in the middle of an Italian community that prides itself on protecting illegal immigrants has no repercussions. In Eddie's world, he imagines protecting Catherine from marriage or any male relationship and wants her for himself. While Eddie wavers and switches between communal and state laws and cultures, his motivations do not change. Eddie constantly looks out for himself at the expense of others and is ruled by personal love and guilt.
There are several moments in the text where the audience is given clues that Eddie's love for Catherine may not be normal. For example, when Catherine lights Eddie's cigar in the living room, it is an event that gives Eddie unusual pleasure. This possibly warm and affectionate act between niece and uncle has phallic suggestions. Depending on interpretation by the actors, this moment many have more or less sexual undertones. Eddie's great attention to his attractive niece and impotence in his own marital relationship immediately makes this meaning clear. Although Eddie seems unable to understand his feelings for his niece until the end of the play, other characters are aware. Beatrice is the first to express this possibility in her conversation with Catherine. Alfieri also realizes Eddie's feelings during his first conversation with Eddie. Eddie does not comprehend his feelings until Beatrice clearly articulates his desires in the conclusion of the play, "You want somethin' else, Eddie, and you can never have her!"
Eddie does not realize his feeling for Catherine because he has constructed an imagined world where he can suppress his urges. This suppression is what devastates Eddie. Because he has no outlet for his feelings—even in his own conscious mind—Eddie transfers his energy to a hatred of Marco and Rodolpho and causes him to act completely irrationally. Eddie's final need to secure or retrieve his good name from Marco is a result of Eddie's failure to protect Catherine from Marco. Eddie fails in his life, but seeks redemption and victory in death. By avenging Marco, Eddie believes he will regain his pride in the community—another wholly self-interested act. Eddie escaped restraint because he escaped all thoughts of other people or the community at large. Eddie's "wholeness" is a whole interest in himself. Eddie's tragic flaw is the bubble, the constructed world he exists within, but is unable to escape or recognize.
Ace your assignments with our guide to A View from the Bridge!