Eddie Carbone as a Tragic Hero

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Eddie Carbone as a Tragic Hero

Before I decide on whether Eddie Carbone is a tragic hero, we must

define what the word 'tragic' and 'hero' actually mean.

'Tragic'- A tragedy is a type of drama. A tragedy traces the fall of

the central figure, the 'hero', as he grapples with his destiny.

Historically, tragedy started in Ancient Greece. Greek tragedies

usually formed on a very important and powerful figure (a king or a

prince perhaps) who makes an error or judgement or who has a hamartia

(fatal flaw) that leads to his tragic downfall.

In the context of a tragedy, the word 'hero' means the central

character or protagonist (the hero) whom we admire or respect in some

way, but who is flawed or imperfect and where his flawed character

contributes to his own downfall. A hero is consequently not a perfect

character, not even necessarily a pleasant one. His plight illustrates

the cruelty of the world, and how one man faces up to his fate.

It is important that a tragic hero acquires some self-knowledge, that

he faces up to his own predicament, with honesty and openness.

Now, in order to find out to what extent Eddie is a tragic hero, we

must ask ourselves the following questions: a) do we admire or respect

him, b) what is his fatal flaw, c) do we have any sympathy with Eddie,

d) is Eddie just pitiable, beneath our contempt, and e) does Eddie

ever gain self-knowledge? Does he ever gain any insight into his own


Lets start with the first question. Do we admire or respect Eddie? In

some respects the answer is yes, and in others no. Yes we do because

he has decided to take on the task of bringing up his niece, for


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...rrive early on in the play, he was very selfish and very over

protective of Catherine. He is very jealous of Rodolpho, and hence

bullies him. However Marco makes sure Eddie doesn't harm Rodolpho

physically by showing off how strong he is (and also subtly hinting at

how he could beat Eddie in a fight). He does this by showing that he

can lift a chair by only one of its legs, whereas Eddie is unable to.

Unfortunately Eddie seemingly misses this hint of Marco's power, and

this in turn leads to his death.

All in all, what we can see Eddie is a protagonist whom we all respect

to start with, but indeed he has a fatal flaw, which his inability to

be emotionally articulate, especially within himself and he becomes a

tragic hero as we watch his downfall from the beginning of the play.

So is Eddie Carbone a tragic hero? Yes.
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