In Arthur Miller’s A View from the Bridge, Eddie’s relationship with his niece, Catherine, continually alter over the course of the play. Though Eddie’s affection towards Catherine never seems to falter, as Catherine grows and matures, her attitude towards Eddie becomes increasingly aggressive, contrasting vividly between the two acts. The developing relationships are made obvious at certain intervals where significant incidents occur, leading to drastic permutations in Catherine’s demeanor towards Eddie.
Arthur Miller portrays these changes through use of various set directions and tones, which combine to create the differing characters and development of relationships. Initially, at the beginning of Act One, Catherine craves Eddie’s approval. When he condemns her for the fact that she has been “walkin’ wavy” and the length of her skirt, Catherine is “almost in tears” from angst at Eddie’s chastise, imploring with him “what do you want me to do? ”. She then asks “do you want me to.. ” before he interrupts her with “Now don’t get mad, kid”.
The interaction between the two convey how their relationship resembles that of a father and daughter. Catherine’s adoring and idolizing nature towards Eddie is exemplified through the how she “hurries out” to retrieve his cigar, and then the tender way in which she lights it for him. Though she is aware of Eddie’s overprotective tendencies, she regards this as simply looking out for her since the death of her mother, and attempts to make light of it by “trying to joke him out of his warning”.
Though Eddie’s feelings for Catherine never change, later on in the scene, when Eddie observes Catherine’s and Rodolpho’s immediate infatuation towards one another during the arrival of Beatrice’s cousins, he begins to resent Rodolpho, which in turn causes him to act aggresively towards Catherine. He patronizingly questions her choice of attire; “What’s the high heels for, Garbo? ” making reference to a popular actress at the time, and as such embarrasses Catherine, who is “angered” by the slur.
She begrudgingly does as he asks, but does not end her flirtation with Rodolpho, displaying a small act of rebellion against Eddie’s constant cosseting. As Catherine and Rodolpho’s affiliation develops, it puts a strain on Catherine’s relationship with Eddie. When Eddie intersects Catherine and Rodolpho as they return from the “pictures”, he seems saddened, “trying to smile” as he confronts her. Eddie’s demeanor changes after Catherine admits that she “likes” Rodolpho, accusing him of using her to become an American citizen.