A View from the Bridge

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Themes and Colors
Immigration, Home, and Belonging Theme Icon
Love and Desire Theme Icon
Respect, Honor, Reputation Theme Icon
Justice and the Law Theme Icon
Maturity and Independence Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in A View from the Bridge, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.
Love and Desire Theme Icon

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 Rodolpho 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 Rodolpho 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 very overprotective, and to some degree is a father figure for her. However, 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 Rodolpho.

Eddie may also have other repressed desires. Directly after kissing Catherine, he kisses Rodolpho, as well. He claims that this is to prove that Rodolpho is homosexual (an accusation he constantly implies but never says outright), but as he is the one to restrain Rodolpho and forcefully kiss him, his motivations are dubious. Throughout the play, Eddie is disproportionately obsessed with proving that Rodolpho “ain’t right,” and this fixation on Rodolpho’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 Rodolpho 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.

Love and Desire ThemeTracker

The ThemeTracker below shows where, and to what degree, the theme of Love and Desire appears in each act of A View from the Bridge. Click or tap on any chapter to read its Summary & Analysis.
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Love and Desire Quotes in A View from the Bridge

Below you will find the important quotes in A View from the Bridge related to the theme of Love and Desire.
Act 1 Quotes

Listen, you been givin’ me the willies the way you walk down the street, I mean it.

Related Characters: Eddie Carbone (speaker), Catherine
Page Number: 6
Explanation and Analysis:

Eddie, a longshoreman, comes home one day and warmly greets his niece, Catherine, who is equally pleased to see him.

The two are very close, to an extent that becomes a source of discomfort later on in the play. Eddie is very protective of Catherine, and in this quote, he complains that her new skirt is too short and that she walks "wavy," or in a suggesting manner with her hips, when she walks down the street. Eddie disapproves of Catherine's "wavy" walk because it attracts the attention of men. Even though Catherine is seventeen years old and on the cusp of womanhood, Eddie is still thinks of her as "his" little girl. It is important to note in this quote that while Eddie doesn't like the attention Catherine gets due to her walk, he has clearly noticed it, too, revealing feelings for Catherine that go beyond that of a protective uncle and niece, and which are eventually noticed by Alfieri and Beatrice. 


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Katie, I promised your mother on her death-bed. I’m responsible for you. You’re a baby, you don’t understand these things.

Related Characters: Eddie Carbone (speaker), Catherine
Page Number: 7
Explanation and Analysis:

Catherine is an orphan whose parents died when she was young. Eddie and Beatrice, Catherine's aunt, promised the girl's parents that they would take care of her. A childless couple, they raised Catherine as if she were their own. 

Eddie is a very proud man who is insistent on his promises to people. In this quote, he tells Catherine that he knows what's best for her, and that he needs to protect her to the extent that he promised her mother on her death-bed. In this case, it means that he wants her to change the way she dresses and walks, because she's attracting the attention of men. Though Eddie urges Catherine that he knows best and doesn't want her to begin dating under the guise of his love as an uncle, it becomes clear throughout the play that he wants her to stay at home due to subconscious feelings of ownership and, to an implied extent, romantic love. 

I’m gonna buy a paper doll that I can call my own, A doll that other fellows cannot steal.

Related Characters: Rodolpho (speaker)
Related Symbols: “Paper Doll”
Page Number: 28
Explanation and Analysis:

Marco and Rodolpho tell Eddie, Beatrice, and Catherine about the lack of opportunities in their town in Italy--there is plenty of beauty, but absolutely no employment. Rodolpho proudly recalls the day that a famous opera singer set to perform at a hotel got sick, and being a singer himself, Rodolpho took over and entertained the visitors for hours. He romanticizes the memory mostly due to the fact that he claims "thousand lira" tips rained down from the crowd, and that he and his brother were able to live for six months off of that night (though Marco refutes the claim and states it was more like two months). Catherine implores him to sing, and in this quote, he sings a few bars of the song "Paper Doll."

Eddie quickly becomes angry and tells Rodolpho to stop singing, even though Beatrice and Catherine want him to continue--he has a beautiful, high tenor voice. Eddie claims he wants Rodolpho to stop because the neighbors may become suspicious if they suddenly hear singing from a house where previously no such voice came from. However, it is also likely due to the content of the song that Eddie becomes paranoid. The lyrics are about keeping a woman away from other men, as if she were a "paper doll" that could be kept in a pocket for "safekeeping." Eddie views Catherine like his own paper doll, a child that will be his forever. He can already sense that Catherine's allegiance to him is waning in light of her enchantment with Rodolpho, and it is the combination of the content of the song and annoyance at Rodolpho's talent that prompts Eddie to shut up his houseguest. 

Is there a question of law somewhere?

That’s what I want to ask you.

Because there’s nothing illegal about a girl falling in love with an immigrant.

Related Characters: Eddie Carbone (speaker), Alfieri (speaker), Catherine, Rodolpho
Page Number: 42
Explanation and Analysis:

Fed up with his inability to convince Catherine that Rodolpho is up to no good, Eddie goes to Alfieri to see if the law can intervene in what seems to be the impending marriage of Catherine and the immigrant. 

In this quote, Alfieri fails to give Eddie the answer he seeks. He informs Eddie that there is nothing illegal about Rodolpho and Catherine falling in love with each other. The only way in which the law can object to the situation is that Rodolpho is an illegal immigrant, although, of course, by marrying Catherine, he would be able to apply for citizenship. Though "sham marriages" are illegal, from every angle except for Eddie's suspicions, Catherine and Rodolpho are genuinely smitten with one another. Eddie's only recourse to split up Catherine and Rodolpho would be to give up Rodolpho's name to Immigration--an act that, in Red Hook, is considered to be one of merciless betrayal. 

We all love somebody, the wife, the kids—every man’s got somebody that he loves, heh? But sometimes . . . there’s too much. You know? There’s too much, and it goes where it mustn’t. A man works hard, he brings up a child, sometimes it’s a niece, sometimes even a daughter, and he never realizes it, but through the years—there is too much love for the daughter, there is too much love for the niece. Do you understand what I’m saying to you?

Related Characters: Alfieri (speaker), Eddie Carbone, Catherine
Page Number: 45
Explanation and Analysis:

During their talk, Alfieri tries to steer Eddie's emotions towards letting go of Catherine, rather than seeking legal action in order to break up the immigrant and his niece. 

In this quote, Alfieri subtly, though more explicitly than Beatrice, tells Eddie that his love for Catherine borders on inappropriate behavior. In plain terms, he is implying that Eddie's interest in Catherine goes beyond the love of an uncle who has been a father figure to his niece, and into the uncomfortable realm of romantic feelings for a younger female family member. Though Eddie has always claimed that his feelings of ownership for Catherine are really paternal instincts of protection, the fact that he is seeking legal recourse in order to separate her from a potential husband is concerning to Alfieri. Even as a third party who is not a part of the family, Alfieri can tell that Eddie's feelings for Catherine broach inappropriate--and potentially illegal--sentiments. 

Act 2 Quotes

Don’t, don’t laugh at me! I’ve been here all my life. . . . Every day I saw him when he left in the morning and when he came home at night. You think it’s so easy to turn around and say to a man he’s nothin’ to you no more?

Related Characters: Catherine (speaker), Eddie Carbone, Rodolpho
Page Number: 61
Explanation and Analysis:

When Rodolpho tells Catherine that she should no longer care what Eddie thinks of her, Catherine feels wounded. Beatrice and Eddie raised her as if she were their own when her parents died, and she feels indebted to them.

In this quote, she feels insulted that Rodolpho would be so dismissive of Eddie, who similarly took in two Italian immigrants that he had never met before. Though overly protective of Catherine to an uncomfortable degree, neither can deny that Eddie is hardworking and welcoming--at least, when his guests comply to his demands. Eddie is the only father Catherine has ever known, and though his doting upon her seems strange to outsiders, she has always been complicit in their bond. She feels confused about this budding relationship with a new man, especially since the only other man she has ever had such a bond with--Eddie--so vocally disapproves of the courtship. While Catherine longs to spread her wings and go out on her own, she feels massive guilt (largely due to Eddie's words) about denying the man who has given everything to her. It is due to this guilt and reluctance to leave that the separation between Eddie and Catherine is so painful and difficult for all members of the family. 

Catherine. 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?

Related Characters: Rodolpho (speaker), Catherine
Page Number: 61
Explanation and Analysis:

Rodolpho, like Beatrice and Alfieri, has noticed that Eddie is overly protective of Catherine. Though Catherine expresses her worry about how Eddie will feel if she leaves the house to marry Rodolpho, he assures her that she has the license to make her own way in the world once she is grown.

In this quote, Rodolpho uses the metaphor of a baby bird to symbolize Catherine's situation with Eddie. Even though Eddie has raised her, Catherine still has the right to leave the home now that she is fully matured. Rodolpho, a romantic man who loves all things beautiful, works his way into Catherine's heart with flowery language such as in this quote. Here, he quite literally tells Catherine that if you love something, set it free--though in this case he is referring to the fact that her uncle should set her free from the chains of his love for her, so that the two young people can be married.