A View From The Bridge, written by Arthur Miller, tells the story of Eddie Carbone, an Italian longshoreman living in Brooklyn, who becomes embroiled in a tragic dispute between his own family and two immigrant relations. One of the ‘Submarines’ named Rodolpho becomes emotionally attached to Eddie’s niece- Catherine, for whom, we discover, Eddie also has strong feelings. This clash between two dominant characters ensues throughout the play, frequently leading to verbal and physical confrontations, usually over Catherine. To find out what causes this friction I will be analysing each character’s motives and personality, starting with Eddie Carbone.
Eddie is a hardworking man who works on the New York docks to earn for his family. He doesn’t have a great education and so his vocabulary can occasionally be very poor and he uses language like; “sump’m,” and grammatically incorrect phrases such as “Listen I could tell you things about Louis which you wouldn’t wave to him no more”. When Eddie is engaged in an argument, his speech seems to deteriorate, which angers him, as he cannot find the words to support what he wants to articulate, and ends up saying something incoherent.
Catherine is a major figure in Eddie’s existence, as her role is effectively as his daughter, although some may say his feelings towards her are more sexual than paternal. Whether Eddie’s feelings towards her are incestuous is ambivalent as there are many ways of viewing their relationship. At the start of the play Catherine has great respect for him and follows his every decision – “Stay there! I’ll get it for you”- although this respect decreases after Eddie kisses her on the lips – “He’s a rat! He belongs in a sewer!” This moment also strengthens the impression that he has stronger emotions towards her.
Throughout ‘A View From The Bridge’ Eddie demonstrates a wide emotional range, whether it is love, anger, hatred, jealousy, or regret. At the beginning of the play Eddie is shown to have a lot of respect, from the community around him, his friends, family and workmates – ” well, take it easy”. But at the closing stages of the play, the people in Eddie’s microcosm are appalled by his disloyalty and he is left with his name tarnished forever – “That one! He killed my children!” One of the reasons Eddie shows hostility to Rodolpho is because he feels everything was fine previous to his emigration; however his niece now wants to get married to Rodolpho and eventually his whole life is rearranged.
“I gotta sit in my own house and look at a son-of-a-bitch punk like that- which he came out of nowhere!” Eddie feels he has given to Rodolpho and Marco and has received nothing in exchange, which enrages him – “I give him my house to sleep! I take the blankets of my bed for him, and he takes and puts his filthy hands on her like a goddam thief!” Eddie’s view is that Rodolpho is taking advantage of his hospitality, and when Rodolpho begins to become excessively friendly with Catherine, it starts a spiralling segregation between the two.
Rodolpho’s reasoning for coming to America was to be an American and to earn plenty of money for himself – “I want to be an American. And then I want to go back to Italy when I am rich.” Eddie resents Rodolpho’s self-orientated plans, as he is a traditional hardworking longshoreman who works solidly to earn his wages and it seems to Eddie that Rodolpho thinks he will become wealthy, without effort. Marco’s influence for working in America was to earn money and provide for his struggling family back in Sicily, which Eddie respects this as he knows the importance of providing on behalf of your kin- “My wife – I want to send right away maybe twenty dollars” This again makes Rodolpho’s influence look very egotistical.