A View from the Bridge


Major characters


Eddie Carbone:


Eddie is a tragic figure. At no time does he openly confess his sexual or emotional feelings for his niece, Catherine. Instead his ‘forbidden’ (because he is almost like her father and, moreover, he is married) desires for her manifest themselves in his fierce protectiveness over her and his jealousy of other men when they show her attention, most obviously this includes Rodolpho but also Louis and Mike at the beginning of the play. As such we see a man torn between his genuine fatherly feelings of loss as his ‘child’ grows up and gets ready to leave home, his socially unacceptable desires for Catherine and his (unconscious) awareness that these are wrong. Eventually this internal tension within Eddie drives him to do something equally unacceptable when he betrays the whereabouts of Marco and Rodolpho to the U.S. Immigration Department. Clearly Eddie knows this is unforgivable – hence his denunciation of ‘stool pigeons’ like Vinny Bolzano and his attempts to find a legal way of stopping Rodolpho and Catherine marrying through his meetings with the lawyer Alfieri – yet because of his love for Catherine, which is his ‘fatal flaw’ or weakness, he is driven, almost without choice, to betray Beatrice’s cousins.


However, Eddie’s desires do not seem to be wholly impure. His desire to protect her is partly sincere: the slum in which they live, Red Hook, just opposite the Brooklyn Bridge in New York, is not a very salubrious place for a young girl to grow up. Additionally, his insistence that Catherine should complete her college education and ‘move up’ a station in life is an admirable fatherly trait. Unfortunately, along the way, Eddie seems to have confused his acceptable fatherly feelings for Catherine with inappropriately romantic / sexual ones and as such she has taken the place of his wife Beatrice, which is why Eddie and Beatrice have not, as we discover in the course of the play, slept together for three months. These commendable sides to Eddie’s nature and his evident reluctance to actually ‘snitch’ to the Immigration Department make it hard to judge him as an outright villain which is what makes this play tragic rather than just a morality tale about what happens to uncles who fall in love with their nieces.


The tragedy of Eddie’s character is intensified by his behaviour at the end of the play. Trapped by the social expectations of his time, as a man, and (worse yet) an Italian man, his reputation is of paramount importance to Eddie. Marco accuses him of killing his children and betraying his family and Eddie, although he knows this is the truth, cannot accept this slur on his ‘name’ or his reputation. As such he is forced, once again almost beyond his will, into the confrontation with Marco that eventually kills him. To add a further twist there is the additional possibility that, having dishonoured himself and still being unable to fully accept his feelings for Catherine, Eddie purposefully seeks the fight with Marco in order to put himself out of misery.


Most strangely, Alfieri (and therefore probably Miller) seems to view Eddie’s unconscious but absolute dedication to his passions as a form of heroism. In a world where most of us are ‘quite civilized … quite American [and] we settle for half,’ the idea of someone capable of being torn apart by the force of their overwhelming passions has come to seem quite attractive in a sensible world where most of us are, like Alfieri’s practice, ‘entirely unromantic’.



Page No




‘Eddie has appeared … h is forty – a husky, slightly overweight longshoreman.’




On seeing Catherine ‘Eddie is pleased and therefore shy about it.’




Talking about Catherine’s skirt Eddie says: ‘I think it’s too short ain’t it?’ ‘You’re walking wavy.’ ‘The heads are turnin’ like windmills.’ ‘You ain’t all the girls.’


‘Katie, I promised your mother on her deathbed. I’m responsible for you. You’re just a baby.’




With regards to Beatrice helping out her family ‘As soon as you see a tired relative, I end up on the floor.’




‘If everybody keeps their mouth shut, nothin’ can happen.’




Only when it’s clear that Marco and Rodolpho will ‘pay for their board’ does Eddie say ‘It’s an honour’ to have them stay at his house.




Eddie quickly interrupts when he hears about Catherine’s job ‘No - no, you gonna finish school.’ However, when told that Catherine is the best student in the school he proudly comments ‘Sure she’s the best.’




Eddies insists that Catherine’s job ‘ain’t what I wanted, though.’ ‘I want you to be with different kind of people. Maybe a lawyers office, some place in New York.’


and comes up with fairly feeble excuses like ‘I don’t like that neighbourhood’ to prevent Catherine from working.




Beatrice points out that Eddie is always holding Catherine back (on p.17 she says ‘She’s seventeen years old, you gonna keep her in the house all her life?’) Then on p.20 she says ‘First it was gonna be when she graduated high school – so she graduated high school. Then it was gonna be when she learned stenographer, so she learned stenographer.’




When he allows Catherine to go to work ‘he is affected by her [tears and then gratitude] but smiles the emotion away.’




Eddie’s advice is ‘Don’t trust nobody.’ ‘Most people ain’t people. She’s goin’ to work plumbers; they’ll chew her to pieces if she don’t watch out.’ ‘The less you trust, the less you’ll be sorry.’




When talking about Marco and Rodolpho staying at their house Eddie forcefully reminds the two women ‘I don’t care what the question is. You – don’t – know – nothin’.’




Alfieri says of Eddie ‘He was as good a man as he had to be in a life that was hard and even.




On seeing Marco for the first time Eddie says ‘Marco, we got plenty of room here.’ and insists ‘Oh, no’ to Marco’s offer to leave




Eddie takes a virtually instant dislike to Rodolpho ‘[he is coming more and more to address Marco only]’




Eddie stops Rodolpho singing ‘Hey, kid – hey, wait a minute.’ on the pretext that someone will hear.




Eddie makes Catherine change her shows ‘What’s the high heels for, Garbo?’ ‘[he is sizing up Rodolpho and there is concealed suspicion.’




Eddie objects to Rodolpho and Catherine dating ‘They must’ve seen every picture in Brooklyn by now. He’s supposed to stay in the house when he ain’t working.’ and Beatrice replies ‘Ah, go on, you’re just jealous.’




Eddie dislikes Rodolpho and tells Beatrice that ‘He’s like a weird’ and that ‘For that character, I didn’t bring her up.’




When Beatrice tries to discuss their sex-life with Eddie he says ‘I can’t. I can’t talk about it’ and ‘I ain’t got nothin’ to say about it.’ The stage directions are ‘[She stands for a moment; he is looking off; she turns to go into the house.]’




In conversation with Louis and Mike, Eddie says ‘They don’t bother me, don’t cost me nuttin’.’ and, in defence of Rodolpho says ‘he’s just a kid, that’s all.’ but Eddie is ‘uncomfortably grinning’ and ‘troubled.’




When Eddie challenges Catherine over which cinema they went to and why they are so late back, she is angry and Eddie is ‘Retreating before her anger.’ He ‘can’t help smiling at the sight of her.’ And ‘smiles unwillingly’ at Rodolpho’s surprise at the lack of fountains in New York




Eddie says Times Square is ‘full of tramps’ as a reason why Rodolpho and Catherine should not go there.




When Eddie talks to Catherine he is ‘Enveloping her with his eyes.’




Eddie complains to Catherine ‘I used to come home and you was always there. Now, I turn around, you’re a big girl [smiling sadly]’ and ‘He looks at her like a lost boy.’




When Catherine doesn’t believe Eddie after he tells her that Rodolpho is only marrying her for immigration papers he says ‘Katie, don’t break my heart.’




‘In the presence of his wife he makes an awkward gesture of eroded despair.’ And ‘in guilt walks out of the house.’




Beatrice says ‘Was there ever any fella he liked for you?’ ‘If it was a prince came here for you it would be no different.’




Alfieri says that ‘a passion … had moved into his body like a stranger.’ and Eddie sounds desperate when he says ‘I know what’s in his mind Mr. Alfieri.’



Eddie tries to convince Mr. Alfieri that Rodolphoain’t right.’ and is indignant when Mr. Alfieri tells him there is no law against Rodolpho


Eddie says ‘they’re laughin’ at him on the piers. I’m ashamed. Paper Doll, they call him.’




Eddie’s initial reaction to betraying the cousins to the Immigration Department is ‘Jesus, no, I wouldn’t do nothin’ about that. I mean –‘



Alfieri tries to help Eddie – he says ‘Sometimes … there’s too much love. Sometimes … it goes where it shouldn’t. There’s too much love for the niece.’




Eddie cries ‘He’s stealing from me!’




Eddie is immediately defensive when Mr. Alfieri says ‘She can’t marry you, can she?’ – he says ‘What are you talking about … I don’t know what the hell you are talking about.’




‘A case of Scotch Whisky skipped from a net while being unloaded – as a case of Scotch Whisky  is inclined to do.’




Of Eddie, Rodolpho says ‘If I take in my hands a little bird. And she grows and wishes to fly. But I will not let her out of my hands because I love her so much, is that right for me to do?




Eddie’s actions are described as sudden. He ‘suddenly’ reaches out for Catherine and kisses her. He ‘suddenly’ kisses Rodolpho




Rodolpho and Catherine ‘watch helplessly as [Eddie] leans towards them over the table.’




‘I want to report something. Illegal immigrants. Two of them. That’s right.441 Saxon Street, Brooklyn, yeah. Ground floor. Heh? [With greater difficulty] I’m just around that neighbourhood. That’s all.




‘I don’t like the way you talk to me, B.’ ‘I want my respect.’ Eddie says with barely controlled violence as he ‘[moves about biting his lip.]’




Eddie says ‘I want my respect, Beatrice, and you know what I’m talkin’ about …[finally his resolution hardens]: What I feel like doin’ in the bed and what I don’t feel like doin’. ‘Don’t tell me okay, okay, I’m tellin’ you the truth. A wife is supposed to believe the husband. If I tell you that guy ain’t right don’t tell me he is right.’




Eddie says ‘I don’t go around makin’ accusations. He give me the heeby jeebies the first minute I seen him.’




Of Catherine, Eddie says: ‘B, she’s a baby, how is she gonna know what she likes.’ But in response Beatrice says ‘Well, you kept her a baby.’




Eddie eventually accepts that he has to let Catherine grow up. He says ‘I only wanted the best for you, Katie.’ and admits ‘maybe I kept you home too much.’ He even tries to get her to realise that there are other men ‘Maybe you’ll get around a little bit … maybe in a couple of months you’ll see different.’




Eddie panics when he realises that Lipari’s family will be caught (or perhaps when he realises what he has done) ‘Will you stop arguing with me and get them out.’ ‘I never told you nothin’ in my life that wasn’t for your own good.’




Beatrice realises what he has done, says ‘Oh, Jesus, Eddie.’ and ‘[looks at him now and sees his terror.]




Marco accuses him ‘That one! He killed my children! That one stole the food from my children.’ Eddie responds ‘He’s gonna take that. He’s gonna take that back or I’ll kill him. You hear? I’ll kill him! I’ll kill him!’




Catherine says ‘No one’s gonna talk to him again if he lives to be a hundred,’




Eddie tells Beatrice ‘You walk out that door to that weddin’, you ain’t commin’ back here.’ and he insists ‘I want my respect.’ He finally threatens her ‘You be on my side or on their side, that’s all.’




Catherine says ‘He’s a rat. He belongs in the sewer!’ ‘He bites people when they sleep! He comes when nobodies lookin’ and poisons decent people. In the garbage, he belongs.’




‘I want my name! He [Rodolpho] didn’t take my name; he’s only a punk. Marco’s got my name.’




Eddie yells at Marco ‘’Wipin’ the neighbourhood with my name like a dirty rag! I want my name, Marco. Mow gimme my name … tell them what a liar you are.




Eddie ‘springs a knife into his hand’ when fighting an un-armed man.