What do I need to know about ... Clothes?


Brief Description

In ‘A View from the Bridge’, clothing plays a role in giving more information about the characters, mainly Catherine, Rodolpho and Eddie, to the audience. Just like in today’s society, people are judged by their clothing, and it shows how mature a person is. For example, Catherine wearing her new skirt in the beginning of the play to show off how ‘grown-up’ she has become. However, as with today, parents also try to protect their children. They attempt to prevent them from looking overly dressed up for their age. This is how Eddie feels about Catherine’s new style, as he disapproves of her new skirt, saying that it would simply attract too much attention.
Also in the play, it is not simply what clothes the characters wear, but what they could do with them that count. In Rodolpho’s case, he has the ability to tailor clothing, women’s clothing in particular. Because of this, along with his other talents, Eddie considers him to be strange.

Key Quotations

"You look like one of them girls that went to college." - Eddie [pg 14]

"It's too short ain't it?" - Eddie [pg 14]

"I don't like the looks they're givin' you in the candy store." - Eddie [pg 14]

"Eddie, it's the style now." - Catherine [pg 14]

"He takes the dress, lays it on the table ... he makes a new dress... I mean he looked so sweet there... you could kiss him..." - Eddie talking about Rodolpho [pg 47]
Eddie is saying how 'sweet' Rodolpho is, because he can make dresses. He believes that it is not masculine for a man to create female clothing, and he describes Rodolpho as an 'angel'. Eddie could quite possibly be thinking of Rodolpho as a little child, or a female, as he states that 'you could kiss him'.

"[Indicating the pattern] Rodolpho makin' you a dress?" - Eddie to Catherine [pg 63]
Eddie immediately assumes that it is Rodolpho who makes the dresses, without stopping to think that it could be Catherine's own doing. This may have something to do with Eddie being intoxicated, and his anger for Rodolpho, and he makes up any excuse to make him seem bad in his own eyes.

Its role in the novel

Clothes are a central motif in A View from the Bridge because they give the reader a lot of key information regarding the characters.
From the beginning, the clothes are the first hint that Catherine is becoming an adult and that she is no longer a little girl. By the way Eddie reacts to her new style, it shows the audience, from the start, how protective he is of Catherine. Eddie seems to be extremely protective over Catherine especially when she begins to act like an adult and attempts to reach out to others, Eddie shows his disapporaval and attempts to stop anything from transpiring. Eddie disapproves of her clothes in order to prevent Catherine moving away from him. Eddie also seems to react badly to Rodolpho's choice of clothing and he seems to constantly make different references to how 'he 'aint right'. He also seems to mock the fact that Rodolpho has a good hand at tailoring clothes and even women's clothes. This all refers back to how people are judged by their clothing and the way they present themselves.