When he is not obeyed he shows signs of aggression. When, for example, he is talking to Catherine about her clothes and the way she behaves at the beginning of the play, he says, “Now don’t aggravate me Katie, you’re walking wavy”. When the two illegal immigrants (Marco and Rodolfo) arrive, it leads to problems and adds to the tensions which already exist. In different ways they challenge Eddie – his ideas of what it is to be manly, his dominant position in the family and bring to a head the problems with his feelings towards Catherine.
Rodolfo, the younger brother, doesn’t conform to Eddie’s idea of what qualities a man should have. Even worse than that, it looks as though he is going to lose his Katie to him and this a challenge that he can’t back away from. The stage directions at one point say about Eddie that, “he is sizing up Rodolfo and there is a concealed suspicion”. Beatrice thinks that this hostility is because of jealousy and his feelings for Catherine. Eddie though convinces himself that it is because Rodolfo is exploiting her to get a permit to stay in America.
Eddie finds everything about Rodolfo “unmanly” and he uses this as ammunition against him. For example, when Rodolfo sings, Eddie doesn’t like the way he does it. He says that Rodolfo even sounds like a woman, “You didn’t know who was singing, you wouldn’t be looking for him, you’d be looking for her. ” The way Rodolfo looks doesn’t match up with the qualities Eddie considers to be manly. He calls Rodolfo a “Blondie” and “Platinum Hair”. He thinks that it is a female quality to care what you look like and to enhance your image. Eddie tries to show up Rodolfo on several occasions.
He tries to humiliate him during the boxing lesson and he physically kisses Rodolfo in front of Catherine. He says this about Rodolfo at another point in the play,” I mean he looked so sweet there, like an angel, you could kiss him he was so sweet. ” Also Eddie doesn’t approve of the Rodolfo’s activities. He associates them with women, such as Rodolfo dancing and cooking. He also tries to imply that Rodolfo is a homosexual. He says this to make Catherine go off him. He says, “The guy ain’t right” and ‘he’s a weird’ He said this because he doesn’t think that Rodolfo is a real man.
Catherine, though, seems to find Rodolfo very attractive and “manly”. The stage directions say that she is “enthralled” by him. She is attracted to Rodolfo by the things that Eddie finds unmanly. She loves his singing, likes to dance with him, and also loves the fact that he cooks and can make clothes. In the end she goes into the bedroom with him (although we don’t know what actually happens there) and wants to marry him. Marco is what Eddie seems to think a man should be like. He says about him,” Marco goes around like a man; nobody kids Marco”. He is strong and hardworking – unlike Rodolfo.
The other longshoremen Mike and Louie call him “a regular bull”. He has a family that he supports and that he hopes to send for when he has enough money. The qualities that Eddie thinks are manly, though, lead eventually to violence, hostility and aggression. He is protective of his brother and this leads to the confrontation with Eddie in the chair-lifting contest where he warns him off bullying Rodolfo. Like Eddie he needs to keep his “good name” and will kill to defend it. He says about Eddie after he has ratted on him to the immigration service,” In my country he would be dead by now. ”
The climax of the play comes when neither Eddie nor Marco will back down after Marco has accused Eddie in public of informing on him to the immigration service. They both seem to prize their good name more than anything else – even if they have to fight to the death to defend it. It is funny that it is Rodolfo, who Eddie thinks is not a real man, who tries to make a compromise to stop the fight. He says to Eddie, “It is my fault Eddie. Everything. It was wrong that I did not ask your permission. I kiss your hand. ” Just before the final fight he begs them both to stop, “No, Marco, please.
Eddie, please, he has children! You will kill a family. ” All through the play Eddie has not been able to admit that the real reason for him being hostile to Rodolfo and anyone else who likes Catherine is that he wants her for himself. Even when Beatrice tells him to his face at the end he won’t admit it. This drives him mad. The stage directions say, “His fists clench his head as though it will burst”. It has driven him to do the worst thing you can do in Red Hook – to be a snitch. The only way out he thinks is to challenge Marco and to get his name back.
He says to Marco, “I want my name back”. In the end Eddie dies not knowing why he was so angry. When Catherine says that she never wanted to do anything bad to him he says to her,” Then why…? ” Eddie dies and Marco will go to prison because they couldn’t do anything but use violence – they had to follow the masculine code of honour. Alfieri, the lawyer and narrator in the play, pities and admires Eddie because he was willing to die to defend his good name and to get back “respect”. He says about Eddie, “even as I know how wrong he was, and his death useless…
I confess that something perversely pure calls to me from his memory, for he allowed himself to be wholly known. ” Manliness, aggression and hostility are themes that are linked throughout the play. They can maybe be admired but in the end, as Alfieri says, compromise is the only way, “Most of the time now we settle for half and I like it better”. Show preview only The above preview is unformatted text This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Arthur Miller section.