Analysis: What's Up With the Ending?
OK, so the play ends with Eddie being stabbed by his own knife. Significant? Incredibly symbolic? We think so. Let's analyze: Who is the cause of all of Eddie's problems? Who is the one so obsessed with his niece that he can't let her go? Who betrays his family and community by calling Immigration? Who brings a knife into the final duel with Marco? The answers are Eddie, Eddie, Eddie, and umm…oh, yeah, Eddie.
Like almost every tragic hero conceived by man, Eddie's own actions are the cause of his destruction. The only more blatantly symbolic way for him to die is suicide. In fact, there was a French production of the play where that's exactly how it happened. However, Miller decided to publish the good ole die-in-a-duel-by-your-own-knife version that he wrote for the British production. We don't know why. Maybe, he preferred that the symbolism be a little less blatant. There's no telling.
One last thing. We find it very interesting that Eddie dies in Beatrice's arms instead of Catherine's. His last words are, "Oh, B.!" (2.333). You might predict that he would die with Catherine holding him, since she was the one he was obsessing over the whole time. Actually, in the original Broadway production, that is how it ended. (Boy, this play had a lot of different endings.) Many critics say that Eddie dying in Beatrice's arms is a way of reconciling their relationship, that in his last breath he sees the folly of his ways. Read it. Tell us what you think. And you'll find more discussion of this in "Symbols, Imagery, Allegory."