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
Love and Desire Quotes in A View from the Bridge
Listen, you been givin’ me the willies the way you walk down the street, I mean it.
Katie, I promised your mother on her death-bed. I’m responsible for you. You’re a baby, you don’t understand these things.
I’m gonna buy a paper doll that I can call my own, A doll that other fellows cannot steal.
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.
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?
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?
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?