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A View from the Bridge

Arthur Miller

Act I (continued)

Act I

Act I (continued)

Eddie telling Catherine to take off her high heels to the end of Eddie's first meeting with Alfieri

Summary

The lights once again focus on Alfieri, who offers a brief narration and commentary on Eddie Carbone and the events that follow. As a wise onlooker, Alferi reflects that the future is always unknown—normal men like Eddie Carbone do not expect to have a destiny.

Eddie stands at the doorway of the house, looking for Catherine and Rodolpho who have gone to a movie. Beatrice enters from the street and approaches Eddie. Beatrice tells Eddie to stop worrying and come into the house. When inside, Eddie tells Beatrice he is worried about Catherine's relationship with Rodolpho. Beatrice asks Eddie what is wrong with Rodolpho, and what he wants from him. Eddie responds that Rodolpho makes him feel odd—he has heard that Rodolpho sings on the ships and the men even call Rodolpho "Paper Doll." Eddie is particularly disturbed with Rodolpho's strange blonde hair. Eddie tells Beatrice he gets a general bad feeling from the boy and cannot understand why she does not feel the same. Beatrice responds that she has other worries, in particular, Eddie's sexual impotence. Beatrice and Eddie have not had a sexual relationship in three months. Eddie will not talk to Beatrice about the problem, and he only says that he is worried about Catherine.

Eddie goes outside for a walk and meets Louis and Mike along the way. Louis and Mike praise Eddie for keeping Marco and Rodolpho. They tell Eddie that Marco is a strong worker, but Rodolpho is a big joker on the ships. Louis and Mike burst into laughter when they talk about Rodolpho and tell Eddie that Rodolpho has quite a sense of humor. Rodolpho and Catherine finally return from the movie. Eddie is relieved to hear that Rodolpho and Catherine went to the Brooklyn Paramount, as he does not want Catherine hanging around Times Square. Rodolpho responds that he would like to go to Times Square to see the bright lights he had dreamed of since he was boy.

Rodolpho exits and Catherine and Eddie are left alone. Catherine wants to know why Eddie will not talk to Rodolpho. Rodolpho asks why Catherine will not talk to him. Catherine attempts to convince Eddie that Rodolpho likes him and that he should like Rodolpho. Eddie tells Catherine he is worried about Rodolpho. Eddie suspects that Rodolpho only wants to have a relationship with Catherine to get a green card and become an American citizen. Catherine will not listen to Eddie's accusations, exclaims that Rodolpho loves her, and rushes into the house sobbing.

When inside the house, Eddie shouts again that Rodolpho is no good, and leaves the house. Catherine and Beatrice are left alone. Beatrice is alarmed at Eddie's passionate fury and talks directly to Catherine. Beatrice tells Catherine that she is a woman and must make her own decisions about marriage. Beatrice also reminds Catherine that to be a woman she must act like a woman—she cannot walk around in front of Eddie in her slip or sit on the bathtub while he is shaving in his underwear. During the women's conversation, Beatrice suggests that Eddie might think she was jealous of Catherine, but assures Catherine she is not. The idea of jealousy between she and Catherine over Eddie is a great surprise to Catherine. Catherine vows she will try to be a woman make up her own mind, and finally say good-bye to her girlhood.

Eddie makes a visit to Alfieri to ask if there is any way that he can prevent Catherine from marrying Rodolpho. Eddie claims that Rodolpho is only marrying Catherine to gain citizenship, but Alfieri tells him he has no proof and the law is not interested in such things. Eddie begs Alfieri and desperately suggests that Rodolpho might even be homosexual. Alfieri implores Eddie to "let Catherine go," as he has too much love for her and must wish her luck and let her marry Rodolpho. Helpless and near to tears, Eddie leaves the office.

Analysis

Although the women of A View from the Bridge were significantly enlarged in Miller's revised version of the script, Beatrice and Catherine remain weak characters. In the Italian-American society of Red Hook Brooklyn, Miller portrays the women as virtually helpless and unable to affect the fate of their husbands or any male figures. Although much of the action centers on Eddie's love for Catherine, Catherine does not have a significant impact on the events of the novel. Beatrice, initially more outspoken than Catherine, also has little impact on the story.

Catherine appears weaker than Beatrice in the play. Catherine is, of course, like a daughter to Beatrice, but Catherine is unable to properly articulate her feelings and emotions until the end of the play. Catherine is described as a somewhat flighty girl and she does not know that it is inappropriate to walk around in her slip in front of her uncle and watch Eddie shave in his underwear. Until Catherine's relationship with Rodolpho, she has no great convictions besides wanting to work as a stenographer before she graduates. Catherine is oblivious throughout the play to Eddie's lust for her. She constantly seeks his approval and forgiveness, even at the very conclusion of the play. Catherine only finds her independence from Eddie when she finds another male patriarchal figure to replace him. Happy and safe with Rodolpho, Catherine can finally separate herself from Eddie.

Beatrice is the tirelessly forgiving character of the play. Beatrice is the mature female figure, but requires the same male approval that Catherine seeks. Beatrice is jealous of Eddie's relationship with Catherine and openly addresses Eddie's sexual impotence and lack of physical affection for her. While Beatrice seems more aware of her need for Eddie's approval than Catherine does, she is equally desperate for it. Also different from Catherine is that Beatrice recognizes this neediness almost to a fault. Nonetheless, Beatrice's willingness to forgive Eddie leads her to even accept him after Eddie is disgraced and he admits his desires for Catherine. In the original version of the script, Eddie dies at Catherine's feet, but Beatrice's greater role in the revised script makes this an improbable ending—Eddie must return to Beatrice because she is the only one left who truly needs his approval, since Catherine now has Rodolpho. In these final moments, Beatrice seems to have power over Eddie—for the first time he seeks out her forgiveness and love.

While the inner lives of these characters can be extrapolated from the text, Beatrice and Catherine remain fairly two-dimensional. The women have no apparent inner-life than their concern with male figures. Miller allows the audience little insight on the thoughts of Beatrice and Catherine, we are unsure why Catherine loves Rodolpho or how Beatrice occupies her time outside of cooking and cleaning for Eddie. The women solely exist to further the dramatic content of the play and have little meaning or consequence as individuals.

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