To what extent does an audience sympathise with Eddie Carbone in Arthur Miller’s ‘A View from the Bridge’? Eddie is a character who demands a lot of attention from the audience as through most parts of the play one has conflicting emotions about him, either sympathy, criticism or a confusing and complicated combination of both. This means that it is often hard to decide which emotion you feel more strongly. One of the most difficult and controversial issues involving Eddie is his niece, Catherine.
He tries to be the best father figure he can to her, maybe he is too overprotective of her, as a lot of fathers would be, not wanting her to attract too much attention whilst walking out in the streets around Redhook. Very early on he comments that she is ‘walkin’ wavy’ and that he doesn’t ‘like the looks they’re givin’ her in the candy store. ‘ He doesn’t want her to leave school to get a job as then she may move away and not be under his protection, therefore he tries to make her feel guilty for wanting to get a job by saying, ‘You’ll move away…
you’ll come visit on Sundays, then once a month, then Christmas and New Years, finally. ‘ Then finally giving in to her he calls her ‘Madonna’, an innocent and virginal figure. He appears to love Catherine as he would a daughter of his own. All these things make one feel sympathy towards him as he only seems to not want his niece to grow up. However as the play progresses one’s sympathy for him diminishes somewhat as his complicated relationship with her unravels. Though he may not be aware of it himself his feelings for Catherine seem to somewhat surpass those of fatherly love.
He becomes overprotective to an extent not seen at the beginning of the play, he calls her ‘Garbo’ (after the somewhat more tainted actress Greta Garbo) in direct contrast to calling her ‘Madonna’, this came about as a result of her wearing high heels when the illegal immigrants, Marco and Rodolpho first arrived at their flat. Eddie immediately orders her to take them off, much to her embarrassment. When Catherine starts to go to the cinema with Rodolpho, Eddie becomes even more overprotective as if to show that in his opinion no man is good enough for her.
When Beatrice suggests that he himself cannot marry Catherine he becomes very agitated and shouts at her. However when Beatrice again suggests at the end of the play that he wants Catherine and can never have her, he seems to realise the truth. The illegal immigrants, Marco and Rodolpho, generate a lot of criticism of Eddie throughout the play from the audience. Eddie believes that Rodolpho is gay, he forms this opinion on the basis that Rodolpho has blonde hair, he cooks, he ‘advertises’ himself by singing on the piers, and for many other petty reasons.
Therefore when Catherine starts going out with Rodolpho, Eddie becomes very angry and attempts to ostracise him. When this seems to fail Eddie decides to teach Rodolpho to box, his excuse being ‘one a these days somebody’s liable to step on his foot or sump’m. ‘ When Eddie ‘accidentally’ hits Rodolpho, Marco decides that enough is enough and stands up for his brother by proving to Eddie that he is stronger. This was done in a ‘friendly’ competition, introduced by Marco asking Eddie, ‘Can you lift this chair?