The extract took place in the beginning of the play in the first act before the arrival of Beatrice’s cousins. In this part of the development of the play, we are about to see Eddie’s many underlying yearning and conflict for affection with Catherine surface as the play progress, which will inevitably led to the catastrophe to happen with the introduction of Beatrice’s cousins into the play. The three characters to feature in this are Eddie, his wife Beatrice and Catherine, Beatrice’s niece – revolving in a household whereby the male stature is clearly of higher authority, thus Eddie (the only man) has the highest authority.
The number of dialogue explains the dominance of Eddie as a figure of importance in the scene; Eddie has 21 speeches, Catherine has 19, Beatrice 3 and Louise 1. This is significant because it displays the amount of control that Eddie has over the two women. Both women spoke to Eddie and he addresses them individually, however the women have little exchanges with each other with Eddie usually the intermediary medium between them, confirms the reader’s impression of Eddie’s dominant role in each woman’s lives.
Another significant area is that Catherine has more dialogue than Beatrice. The conversations between Eddie and Catherine is more than the ones involving Eddie and Beatrice, making Catherine more prominent in Eddie’s life compared to Beatrice, whose presence should be more dominant. This is telling of the peculiar affection and attention Eddie has over Catherine. Throughout the play, Eddie is often observed as extremely protective and controlling in dealing with Catherine.
Upon reaching the house, Eddie was greeted by Catherine. There is a sense that Eddie demonstrates special attention towards her as he noticed her new look and even complimented her. Catherine’s movement to take Eddie’s arm and leading him to the armchair is also another sign of how close their relationship is – to the point of physical touch. The way Catherine treated Eddie, is unlike any ordinary man. She offered to get the beer serving him with utmost respect that even Beatrice, his wife, did not do so.
Beatrice on the other hand seem to spend her time mostly in the kitchen, as if, playing the role more like a maid. It is clear that Catherine holds high respect for Eddie, when she was almost in tears because Eddie disapproves of her new outfit. Catherine displays the need to get Eddie’s approval to live her life, instead of her aunt who has been a secondary character. There are signs to indicate that Eddie is very overly protective of the way Catherine dresses and behaves in front of other men.
Catherine waving goodbye to Louis from inside the house as he got back, became an issue for him. He warns Catherine – “ Listen, I could tell you things about Louis which you wouldn’t wave to him no more” as if playing mind games and causing doubt in Catherine’s mind by portraying Louis as possibly a suspicious character. Signs of Eddie’s overly-protectiveness surfaced and later on manifested into jealousy when the cousins arrived as Catherine takes a romantic interest in Rudolpho. Eddie would then apply the same reactions towards Rudolpho as he did to Louis.
As their conversation progresses, we would come to see the irony and suspicion in Eddie’s abnormal affection for his niece. On one hand, he is insinuating to her that she is too young to understand the world “…You’re a baby, you don’t understand these things…”, with the intention of making her question her own judgment in men and on the other, he knows that she is a grown woman, “You’re getting to be a big girl now, you gotta keep yourself more, you can’t be so friendly, kid. ”, implying that she is not capable of taking care of herself.
The tension in Eddie trying to control Catherine would eventually escalate further as it is inevitable that Catherine would attract men, to his distain, when Rudolpho came into the picture. This part of the play revealed Eddie’s selfish scheming of power and control to engineer keeping Catherine all to himself, created tension in the events to come. Beatrice eventually joins them in the living room and as Catherine gave news of her cousin’s arrival, her first reaction is to turn to Eddie for affirmation, instead of Catherine, who gave the news.
There is a subtle underlying tension in the relationship between Beatrice and Catherine, which will soon surface when the conflict between Eddie and Catherine arose. The passage shows the odd relationships in the Carbone family. Eddie having unspoken desires and designs towards his niece, Catherine, which is considered a taboo or incest, evokes suspicion and tension in the beginning of the play.
The movement within the passage is very subtle however it sets the momentum of the play working towards a climbing sense of tension between the characters. The final part of the extract, where Beatrice, clasped her hands to her chest half in fear, half in unutterable joy is telling of the tragedy that is bound to happen as Eddie’s dominance and control over Catherine weakens with external influence.
Miller, A. (1977). A View from The Bridge, Penguin Plays, United States of America: Penguin Books.