The focus on Eddie is evidence that he is an important character and that is the one that has most interactions with the other characters. Eddie and Catherine are having a conversation in the house when he returns from work. From the enthusiastic manner in which Catherine greets Eddie, we know that they share a close relationship. Later, we also see the two characters having a conversation with each other that also alludes to the closeness that they share. The content of the conversation that Eddie and Catherine have seem banal and unimportant.
However, the manner in which they express their thoughts, especially for Eddie, allows us to have a closer peek at what they truly think and how they truly feel. This also creates a sense of suspense and prepares the audience of the later events in Miller’s plot. From the conversation, a sense of curiosity is piqued in the audience as they are subtly made aware that Eddie and Catherine do not share a completely innocent relationship.
On the surface, Eddie seems like a paternal figure who is chiding his young niece about the coquettish manner of her dressing.
He tells Catherine that her skirt is too short and the way she walks gives him “the willies”. This is not a casual remark that Eddie makes. Instead, he harps on it and even when his disapproval causes Catherine obvious distress, he does not stop. Eddie is extremely overprotective over his niece and this conversation is an example of his overprotectiveness. This, coupled with his saying that he does not like the idea of Catherine growing up and finding a job, hints at the unnatural feelings that Eddie harbours towards Catherine. However, at the same time, Eddie seems opposed or even unaware about his feelings for Catherine.
For Catherine and Eddie, the high-heeled shoes that she wears and the way she walks is a symbol of womanhood and sex. In her new skirt and shoes, Catherine has been on the receiving on of much attention from men around the community. Catherine appears to be basking in the glow of the attention but her uncle, on the other hand, is disapproving. However, his feelings about it do not seem to only be about fatherly overprotectiveness. There is also a hint of jealousy that Catherine, who is on the cusp of womanhood, may be attracting and attracted to other men.
Eddie has made his disapproval of the high heels very clear so later in the play, every time Catherine puts them on; it is a symbol of rebellion towards her uncle. Eddie is controlling of Catherine and wants to keep her pure and innocent. He is worried that the high heels, which will make her look attractive, will lead to her going out with a man and leaving the house. The high heels threaten Eddie and to him, they are dangerous. On the other hand, Catherine is very aware of the effect the high heels has on men and she enjoys the power that they give her.
This seemingly minor disagreement the two characters have over the high heels is a foreshadowing of the breakdown of the relationship later when Catherine really does leave to be with Rodolpho. It is also significant that the conversation about Catherine’s blossoming sexuality takes place just before Beatrice’s cousins arrive as it is an indication of a turning point in the play. The new look that Catherine sports is not just symbolic of Eddie’s fear of losing his niece. He is also scared to face his repressed incestuous feelings for his niece as she slowly and more obviously grows to become a woman.
Later in the play, after being serenaded by Rodolfo, Catherine is asked to remove her shoes by Eddie. Eddie is so aware of the power of Catherine’s high heels because he experiences their effect first-hand. Eddie calls Catherine “kid”, an affectionate term. He also tells her she like “a baby” and that she should be more reserved. Besides showing how desperate he is to keep his niece’s innocence, it also shows that he is trying to conceal his true feelings for her. Catherine is upset by her uncle’s disapproval of her clothes as she wants support from him. Later, when she finds a job, she is again met with disapproval by Eddie.
Throughout the extract, the characters were in the house but in different rooms. Eddie and Catherine were together whereas Beatrice was in the kitchen. During their conversation, besides the manner in which they converse, their physical interactions also show that they are close. When talking, Catherine sits and stands near Eddie and even at one point, takes his arm. This, juxtaposed with Beatrice’s physical absence in the room, highlights the awkwardness in the relationship between the three characters. Catherine, like Beatrice, is not a well-developed character. The females are quiet characters who are normally in the background.
This is especially so for Beatrice. Catherine, despite being more vocal at the beginning of the play, is still rather meek, submissive and naive. On the other hand, Beatrice is usually in the kitchen. However, the latter seems like a stronger character. She is willing to address the impotence in the relationship between her husband and her and even encourages Catherine to grow into her womanhood. Regardless, both women constantly seek approval from Eddie and as characters, do not have much impact on the play besides just pushing the plot along. Works Cited: Miller Arthur, ed. A View from the Bridge. Penguin Books: Penguin Group 1977. Print.