NO TORPEBAT 31/01/2018
How does Eddie and Catherine’s relationship change in A View from the Bridge?
A View from the Bridge is a play written by Arthur Miller set in 1950’s Red Hook. Miller takes influence from Greek Tragedy, with Eddie being the protagonist with a fatal flaw. His incestuous feelings for his niece which lead to his untimely downfall.
Eddie and Catherine’s relationship changes in A View from the Bridge from one of love to hatred. At the start of the play the two have a shared love, with Catherine seeing him as a father figure and Eddie having incestuous feeling. This love slowly dissipates throughout the course of the play and eventually turns into hatred on Catherine’s part. Miller also uses language to show how Eddie and Catherine’s relationship changes in A View For The Bridge. Towards the start of the play, Catherine’s meekness is shown in the frequency with which her speeches begin with “yeah,” for example in her first dialogue with Eddie at the start of the play. She is always agreeing with or qualifying Eddie’s comments. This stops later on in the play, showing to the audience that she has become much more independent. During the opening scenes Catherine and Eddie are seen on stage together very frequently; however as the play goes on the pair are rarely shown on stage together. Just after Alfieri’s opening monologue, we’re introduced to Eddie and Catherine, with Catherine greeting Eddie and him being happy about it. This to an audience member seems to be a perfectly normal relationship. However, just lines later where Eddie makes comments on Catherine’s outfit such as “Turn around, lemee see in the back.” This immediately plants seeds of suspicion into the audience’s heads. It is also shown through Miller’s stage directions and dialogue, with one of Catherine’s stage directions being: “strikes a match and holds it to Eddie’s cigar.” This is a phallic gesture, but shows Eddie and Catherine’s close relationship at the start of the play. However towards the end of the play their relationship deteriorates, shown by Catherine rage fuelled rant in which she says “You’re a rat Eddie! You belong in the sewer.”
Eddie and Catherine’s relationship also changes as Eddie’s feelings for her become increasingly prominent. From the beginning Eddie is protective of C: “”Katie you are walkin’ wavy! I don’t like the looks they’re givin you … The heads are turnin’ like windmills.” This makes the audience wonder if Eddie’s caring paternal role is the reason for his concern, or if it is jealousy. However, Eddie’s feelings aren’t made obvious until Miller uses Alfieri as a confidant for Eddie. In Eddie’s meeting with Alfieri his true feelings are made obvious to Alfieri, with him saying “I saw it was only a passion that had moved into his body, like a stranger,” “there is too much love for the niece,” and “She can’t marry you can she?” This is significant because Alfieri is the first character to call out Eddie on his feelings. The word “passion” rather than “lust”, showing how real Eddie’s feelings are and his true desires.
Eddie and Catherine’s relationship also changes, as Catherine becomes more independent. at the start of the play Eddie denies Catherine the chance to take the job as a stenographer, despite it paying well and being a great and exclusive opportunity. He justifies this decision by saying “”I want you to be with a different kind of people. … if you’re gonna get outa here then get out; don’t go practically in the same kind of neighborhood.” Eddie seems to resent how his paternal role is fleeting. Rodolpho is a catalyst for Catherine’s independence. Catherine leaving Eddie was inevitable, however without the cousin’s arrival it still could have been a few years before it was finally granted with Eddie remaining in denial and resenting
the idea. However, Miller presents Eddie’s resentment in a way that still allows the audience to empathise with him.
A key changing point in the two’s relationship is in the second act with Eddie’s drunken kiss. This scene relies very much on stage action. This is because the drunken Eddie kisses both Catherine to show her how a “real man” kisses and Rodolpho, partly to show Catherine that he enjoys it, and that his failure to resist it is significant partly, just to humiliate Rodolpho).The first kiss which is near-incestuous and the second because a man kissing another would revolt the audience. In 1955, when the play was first performed, the double kiss would have been utterly shocking. It is such a key moment as this is where Eddie loses the audience’s sympathy which is further lost when he calls the immigration authorities. When this happens, the audience see a phone-both gradually lighting up, symbolizing the triumph of Eddie’s desperation over his conscience. These two events also accelerates the process of Catherine freeing herself from dependence of Eddie, which is ironic as it may Eddie may have been desperately trying for her to do the opposite.
I believe Eddie and Catherine’s relationship changing has a significant impact on the play and ultimately the message the audience leaves with. The play ends with Eddie dying in Beatrice’s arms. This is relevant because despite his feelings for Catherine he is reuinited with his wife once more, his final words being “My B!”