Explore how the theme of love is portrayed in “A view from the bridge”.
Love—of one kind or another—is the main motivator of Miller’s characters in this play, and drives the major events of its plot. Catherine’s love for Rodolfo and Eddie’s intense love for Catherine lead to the central problems of the play. But even before this, it is Marco’s love for his family that motivates him to come to America, and it is Beatrice’s love for her extended family that causes her to have Marco and Rodolfo stay in her home.
Beyond this, though, A View from the Bridge especially explores the way in which people are driven by desires that don’t fit the mold of normal or traditional forms of familial and romantic love. For one thing, Eddie’s love for Catherine is extreme and hard to define exactly. He is conspicuously overprotective, and yet he is supposed to be a father figure for her.
Unfortunately, as Beatrice subtly hints several times, his love for Catherine often crosses this line and becomes a kind of incestuous desire for his niece, whom he has raised like a daughter. This repressed taboo desire—which Eddie vehemently denies—erupts to the surface when Eddie grabs Catherine and kisses her in front of Rodolfo.
Eddie may also have other repressed desires. Directly after kissing Catherine, he kisses Rodolfo, as well. He claims that this is to prove that Rodolfo is homosexual (an accusation he constantly implies but never says outright), but as he is the one to restrain Rodolfo and forcefully kiss him, his motivations are dubious.
Throughout the play, Eddie is disproportionately obsessed with proving that Rodolfo “ain’t right”, and this fixation on Rodolfo’s sexuality (combined with the fact that he does not have sex with his wife Beatrice) may suggest that there are other motivations behind Eddie’s kissing him.
Eddie is a mess of contradictory, half-repressed desires that are difficult to pin down or define, perhaps even for him. Through this tragically tormented and conflicted character, Miller shows that people are often not aware of their own desires, and reveals the power that these desires can exert over people. Eddie’s suffocating love for Catherine becomes a desire to possess her. He even claims that Rodolfo is ‘stealing’ from him, as if she were an object he owned.
His obsession with Catherine drives him apart from his family and leads him to betray Beatrice’s cousins, thereby effectively ostracizing himself from his friends and neighbors. Through the tragic descent of Eddie, A View from the Bridge can be seen not only as the drama of a family, or of an immigrant community, but also as the internal drama of Eddie’s psyche, as he is tormented and brought down by desires he himself doesn’t even fully understand.
In contrast with his obsession for Catherine, Eddie’s love for Beatrice has hit the rocks. Ironically, Catherine is his ‘daughter’ while Beatrice is his wife. At the beginning of the play there seems to be no evidence of tension in the marriage between Beatrice and Eddie. Beatrice is full of praise for her husband whom she compares to “an angel”. At the same time Eddie expresses his appreciation for his wife whom she believes has got “too big a heart”. However, the audience can see from the beginning that Eddie is nervous about Catherine getting her independence. This began much earlier and Beatrice has notice the change in her husband’s affection for her. In fact, there has been no physical relationship between them for “three months”. It appears as if the coming of the cousins and Catherine’s obvious falling in love with Rodolfo is what brings about the total break-down of the husband and wife relationship. This is more so because the wife keeps accusing the husband but the husband keeps denying. Arthur Miller has shown how inability to reject an individual’s desires can lead to a breakup of true love.
Unlike the husband wife love of Beatrice and Eddie which breaks down, Marco’s love for his wife and children undergoes many trials but doesn’t break down. Marco is a very strong man both physically and mentally. However, the only moment we see him almost breaking down emotionally is when the issue of love for family comes to the surface. The moment he arrives in the United States from Italy, the first thing he wants to do is to send his wife and children money, “he is near tears”. His love is constant and he has a lot of faith in his wife “No-no … the wemen wait, Eddie”. The same emotion can be seen when he is talking about Eddie’s humiliation of Rodolfo “he degraded my brother. My blood. He robbed my children, he mocks my work”. Marco remains true to the people he loves.
Against the family love of Marco is the romantic love between Rodolfo and Catherine. This love is also shown to with stand many trials. The biggest obstacle to this love is Eddie. At the beginning, Eddie has moral authority over Catherine _after all he is the ‘father’ that is why Catherine is ready to listen to him complaining about Rodolfo. Because she is like a daughter to him, she believes what he says and does not like to see him hurt. However, Eddie makes one nasty accusation after another against Rodolfo. He says “the boy wants his passport”, the boy is a homosexual and so on and so forth. In spite of all this, Catherine’s love for Rodolfo grows, just as her contempt for Eddie increases until, by the end of the play she refers to him as “a rat! He belongs to the sewer!”
Arthur miller has shown love to be a great motivation of the characters in his play. This can be motivation for good, as in the case for Rodolfo and Marco and it can also be motivation for purely selfish interest as is in the case of Eddie. In the end, love destroys itself when it is corrupted by inappropriate physical desire. But love triumphs when it is well meant.
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Love—of one kind or another—is the main motivator of Miller’s characters in this play, and drives the major events of its plot. Catherine’s love for Rodolfo and Eddie’s intense love […]