Describe the relationship between Eddie and Catherine.
Explain why this relationship results in Eddies betrayal of the cousins and his death.
A View from the Bridge is a play set in a fictional town in New York called Red Hook during the 1940s. This play is an example of a modern tragedy so all of the drama revolves around a tragic hero who is, in this case, Eddie Carbon. He is a 40 year old Sicilian who immigrated to America. He is described in the play as a husky, slightly overweight longshoreman. Following true Italian culture, he cares greatly for his family which consists of his wife, Beatrice, and her niece, Catherine. At first, Eddie has a very close relationship with Catherine- similar to one of a protective father would have with his daughter. However, as the play progresses, the relationship changes dramatically from the arrival of Beatrices cousins, Rodolfo and Marco and when Catherine and Rodolfo fall in love.
When we first meet Eddie and Catherine, the audience can see how close their relationship is. Catherine greets Eddie warmly on his arrival, excited and obviously pleased to see him and Eddie compliments her new skirt and hairstyle. She asks him frequently, You like it? which illustrates her eagerness to impress her uncle. Eddie then goes on to talk about the way that Catherine walks down the street, describing it as, walkin wavy and showing his more protective side, whilst revealing Catherines immature side when the stage directions show that shes almost in tears because he disapproves.
The audience soon sees the more extreme feelings that Eddie feels for his niece when she tells him about a job offer that she receives from her school principle at a plumbing company. Before Catherine or Beatrice, who is very supportive of Catherine, get a chance to explain further about the job, Eddie rejects the idea saying, What job? Shes gonna finish school and on finding that the job is at a plumbing company and in an area with, sailors up and down the street he seems angered that she would consider working in such close proximity to other men.
The audience is then cognizant of what Beatrice thinks about the intimacy of the Eddie-Catherine relationship. She is angry when Eddie refuses to let Catherine go to work and she says to her husband, I dont understand you; shes seventeen years old, you gonna keep her in the house all her life?
It is then clear to the audience how emotional Eddie becomes through his body language, Eddie breaks into a smile, but it almost seems that tears will form in his eyes but he masks this through his speech and often turns his head away when he is hearing an opinion that he does not agree with. This is important for the audience to recognise as it is key in the disintegration of his and Catherines relationship.
Upon the arrival of the two illegal immigrants, the audience can see an immediate attraction between Catherine and Rodolfo. She seems absorbed by Rodolfos unusually blonde hair and good looks and is enthralled when he sings paper doll She says, Leave him finish, its beautiful! Hes terrific! Its terrific, Rodolfo. This has a very strong effect on Eddie and he becomes flushed, putting a stop to the singing abruptly, giving the excuse, We never had no singers hereand all of a sudden theres a singer in the house. The reader can perceive that he puts a stop to the singing because all of Catherines attention is suddenly on a man who is not him so Eddie makes an excuse to mark his envy.
The audience can see the effect on Eddie through his body language, Eddie has risen, with iron control, even a smile. He moves to Catherine before telling Catherine to remove her heeled shoes, possibly to make her feel and look less attractive around Rodolfo. It is now that the first signs of disruption in the relationship between Eddie and his niece become clear to the audience.
Rodolfo and Catherine soon develop a relationship and one night, when they are due home from the movies, Eddie is waiting for them to return. In a conversation with Beatrice on the street, he says that Rodolfo gives him the heebie-jeebies and reveals a number of excuses to disapprove of him, saying, with that wacky hair, hes like a chorus girl or sumpm. The audience can assume that he is making these excuses just to hide his jealously of Rodolfo possibly taking away his niece.
When Catherine and Rodolfo arrive home, Eddie takes Catherine aside to talk to her about her growing relationship with Rodolfo. The discussion becomes more and more heated as it develops and Eddie insults Catherine when he suggests that Rodolfo is only interested in Catherine so he can marry her and become a US citizen. Catherine refuses to listen to Eddie and stands up to him on numerous occasions during the conversation, which is shown when she, steps towards him and also when she says, I dont want to hear it. When Catherine does not agree with Eddie, the audience can see the influence the he has over Catherine is disintegrating and also indicates the loss of power that Eddie is experiencing.
Eddie then goes to visit the lawyer, Alfieri, who the audience met at the very start of the play. It is soon clear that Eddie is visiting Alfieri to see if there is a legal reason why Catherine and Rodolfo cannot be together. He refers to the femininity of Rodolfo saying, Hes a blonde guy. Like platinum. You know what I mean? He also refers to the fact that he sings. He mentions again the idea that Rodolfo is bowing down to his passport. Alfieri pities Eddie but tells him that the only legal question is the manner of which they entered the country and tells Eddie that theres nothing you can do.
Towards the end of act one, there is a very dramatic section when Eddie is, supposedly, teaching Rodolfo to box and causes Rodolfo to stagger when he lands a punch. The boxing match occurs after Eddies visit to his lawyer where he is clearly frustrated by the lack of any legal way in which he can oust Rodolfo. It is during the boxing when Marco becomes overtly aware of Eddies dislike for his brother Rodolfo. This is apparent to the audience when Marco nods at him dubiously. Marco then approaches Eddie and places a chair in front of him, saying, Can you lift this chair? Eddie fails to raise the chair from one of the chair legs but Marco then does it himself, raising the chair above his head. The stage directions then show the further meaning to this; Marco is face to face with Eddie, a strange tension gripping his eyes and jaw, his neck stiff, the chair raised like a weapon over his head- and he transforms what might appear like a glare of warning into a smile of triumph, and Eddies smile vanishes as he absorbs the look. The audience is exposed to the threat that Marco was delivering to Eddie and gives clues of whats to come later on in the play.
Act two begins a few months later, just before Christmas, Catherine and Rodolfo are alone together in the apartment. The audience can instantly see that the relationship between Catherine and Rodolfo has developed, noting that Catherine is confiding in him rather than in Eddie. Catherine tells Rodolfo of how Eddie always looked after her, showing her pain that he now disapproves. Rodolfo comforts her, clasping her to him and then leads her into the bedroom. Eddie then arrives home, making it obvious to the audience that he is drunk when he removes three empty bottles from his jacket pockets. On finding Rodolfo and Catherine have been in the bedroom, he orders Rodolfo to leave, evidently horrified at the thought of the two of them being alone together when his arm jerks slightly in shock. Eddie, due to drinking excessively, becomes more physical and grabs Catherines arm when she turns to join Rodolfo again. Catherine reacts, terrified, trembling with fright as she tells her uncle, I think I have to get out of here seeming strong and confident to the audience but when she sees the tears in Eddies eyes her deep distress is shown when her sobs of pity and love for him break her composure. Eddie reacts to the unwanted reality that Catherine speaks by doing the unthinkable and kissing his niece on the mouth. The audience can see how significant this kiss is as Catherine strives to free herself making it clear that the respect has become completely absent in their relationship.
After Eddie kisses Rodolfo, perhaps to attempt to prove a point regarding Rodolfos femininity, he leaves the apartment for Alfieris office, saying to Rodolfo as he leaves, Just get outa here and dont lay another hand on her unless you wanna go out feet first!. After talking to Alfieri, he is advised to let her go as there is no law against Catherine and Rodolfo getting married, as they now plan to do, and Eddie is angered when hes told that he has no rights. Eddie the rises, turning to leave, while a phone booth glows out-side. Alfieri, with new anxiety, also rises and calls desperately after him, You wont have a friend in the world Eddie, even those who feel the same will despise you! This gives an ominous feel to the part of the scene, as only Alfieri and Eddie understand what he is talking about until Eddie walks over to the phone booth and calls the immigration bureau to report Rodolfo and Marco. An ominous feeling is also emitted by the blue glow of the phone booth, as it symbolises how Eddie is feeling that to report the immigrants is the only way to protect Catherine and keep her to himself.
Once the family discover that Eddie has betrayed his family by calling the immigration bureau, it is clear how much that Eddie and Catherines relationship has changed from the start of the play. The audience can see the contrast to Catherines love and respect that she showed towards Eddie at the beginning when she calls him a rat and says that he belongs in the sewer! though she is sobbing as she says it. Marco spits on Eddie's face once he realizes that Eddie turned him and his brother to the police is a symbol of disgust and revolt for Eddie's actions
The last scene is a fight between Eddie and Marco, not soon after the immigrants were arrested, which ends in the death of Eddie. Before the fight, the audience finds that Marco went to church before going to talk to Eddie. This action tells us that Marco is ready to give up his life and commit a mortal sin to defend his honour, because what Eddie has done, the breaking of trust, is something that in his culture must never be left unpunished.
In conclusion, throughout the play, I feel that Eddie is feeling uncontrollable emotions for Catherine. He knows they are wrong and yet, he cannot do anything about them. He feels frustrated that another man is getting the attention that he wants from Catherine. Eddie doesnt give Catherine the chance to be independent. He orders her about and in the end she gets fed up. Eddie is jealous of the obvious chemistry between his niece and Rodolfo and convinces himself to think of Rodolpho as a homosexual who is using Catherine to get an American passport. He tries hard to separate Catherine and Rodolpho but Catherines love for Rodolpho is too great. Eddie comes to the point where he cant take any more. His obsession is so great that Eddie was prepared to face the consequences that were coming to him because he thought that what he did was right.