When Rodolfo and Marco, Beatrice’s cousins arrive in America from Italy, Catherine is stunned by Rodolfo and takes sudden interest in him. This is shown when she says, ‘How come he’s so dark and you are so light, Rodolfo?’ to Rodolfo. Rodolfo’s blonde hair makes him stands out because usually Italians have black hair. Compared to Catherine’s liking towards him and the fact he has blonde hair, Eddie, on the other hand has the opposite reaction. Eddie starts to dislike Rodolfo upon Catherine’s interest in him. He does not approve of her staying and going out with Rodolfo because he does not want their relationship to develop.
When Rodolfo and Catherine return from the cinema, Eddie’s way of speaking reveals his view of Rodolfo. Rodolfo, sensing this, assures Eddie that, ‘we only walk together in the streets. She teaches me.’ Eddie tells Catherine not to fall for his pretence of him loving her because he is only doing it for the simple reason of becoming an American citizen. He says to Catherine, ‘He don’t respect you’ and ‘Katie, he’s only bowing to his passport’, when Catherine refuses to believe what Eddie says. However, he does not mention that in his opinion, Rodolfo is homosexual (when he says ‘the guy isn’t right’ to Beatrice).
Apart from the reason that Catherine is interested in Rodolfo, Eddie does not like Rodolfo because he is not manly enough, like his older brother Marco. When Rodolfo mentions he ‘sings’ too, Eddie thinks he is not a man because he sings, cooks and makes dresses. He comes to the conclusion that Rodolfo is homosexual. This is shown throughout the play when he says ‘the guy isn’t right’ to many people. These people are Beatrice and Alfieri. Eddie loses respect for Rodolfo by each passing minute, when Rodolfo and Marco arrive. This is shown very well by the stage directions; ‘he is coming more and more to address Marco only’.
His disapproval of Rodolfo increases dramatically when Rodolfo sings Paper Dolls’ for Catherine, which is about flirting, which Eddie is strictly against. While he is singing, Eddie ‘rises and moves upstage’ which shows his disapproval of Rodolfo’s singing. When it gets to a point of flirting, Eddie stops him from singing any more by saying ‘because we never had no singers here… and all of a sudden there’s a singer’.
He says this to warn Marco and Rodolfo that someone might suspect them. However, this is an alibi for his true feelings; he does not like the fact that Catherine is interested in Rodolfo. After he has stopped Rodolfo from singing any further, he is pleased about it, which Arthur Miller shows by using the appropriate stage directions; ‘Eddie has risen, with iron control, even a smile’. He embarrasses Catherine next by saying ‘What’s the high heels for, Garbo?’
As mentioned earlier, Eddie only addresses Marco because he likes men like him that are hardworking, strong and family men and not someone who entertains himself by buying records etcetera, meanwhile his brother’s family is starving to death. Marco does not sing, cook or make dresses, but instead goes around like a man. This is shown by Eddie saying ‘Then why don’t his brother sing? Marco goes around like a man; nobody kids Marco’. Eddie shows a lot of respect towards Marco here and seems to really appreciate him.
Eddie is also a family man and responsible and that is why he seems to like Marco (Eddie is like Marco). Eddie works hard to feed his family and looks after them. He loves his family, Catherine and Beatrice. However, as the play progresses Marco loses respect for Eddie, and in return Eddie starts to hate him. Another aspect of Eddie’s character is that he is very demanding. Everyone in the family or rather in the house is supposed to obey and respect Eddie.
He demands respect and will fight for it. For example, he says ‘I want my respect, Beatrice’ and ‘Marco’s got my name- and you can go tell him…he’s gonna give it back…or we have it out’. This means that he wants his name back from Marco since he spat on Eddie (‘Marco spits into Eddie’s face’) and he accuses him in front of the neighbourhood, which makes people lose respect for Eddie; ‘He killed my children’. So if Marco refuses to give his name back, Eddie will fight for it.
Eddie is also a very proud man and thought he was the strongest. He pushed Rodolfo around, for example, using the boxing lesson to punch him. There is a lot of tension here, as we know Eddie did it on purpose and the audience await everyone’s reaction. Marco’s surprise and perhaps anger is shown by ‘Marco rises’. The stage direction is short showing the tension. Eddie realises that everyone is shocked so he ask Rodolfo ‘Did I hurt you, kid?’ to which Rodolfo of course answers ‘he didn’t hurt me.
I was only surprised’. Eddie asks this question because he was pretending it to be an accident and he knew Rodolfo would not say Eddie hurt him, as it would indeed show that he is scared of Eddie (which Eddie is trying to prove here and to say to him ‘stay away from Catherine or you will mess with me’). Up until this point in the play, Marco has stood still while Eddie pushes Rodolfo around, but now he thinks that Eddie has gone too far so Marco reveals to Marco that he is stronger than him by lifting a chair with just one hand with ease whereas Eddie could not lift it, ‘Marco- he kneels, grasps… with strain slowly raises the chair higher…what might look like a glare of warning into a smile of triumph…Eddie’s grin vanishes as he absorbs his look’.
Marco is obviously saying to Eddie ‘Back off, I am stronger than you and don’t mess with me’. Here, Arthur Miller uses facial expressions and body language to create dramatic tension without any speech. This causes tension because now that Eddie and Marco are becoming rivals, the audience can sense that one of them will either die or get beaten up. There is an atmosphere full of tension.
Eddie gets very stubborn in Act Two. He wants his respect back from the very person whose brother Catherine is going to marry, so he does not let Catherine and Beatrice get out of the house and threatens them that they cannot come back in once they have stepped out of the door, to get to the wedding, ‘He’s gonna come here and apologise to me or nobody from this house is goin’ into that church today. Now if that’s more to you than I am, then go. But don’t come back’.
The irony is that it is Eddie’s own fault that he lost his respect and friends. Even after the apology from Rodolfo, he refuses and wants to face Marco. Catherine and Rodolfo plead him to run away. However, he does not care and listen to them and replies ‘Where? Where am I goin’? This is my house’. Rodolfo apology is ignored by Eddie because it is not Rodolfo who took his respect but Marco; ‘He didn’t take my name; he’s only a punk. Marco’s got my name’- In Eddie’s eyes, Rodolfo is not manly enough to have his apology accepted.
Beatrice says to Eddie ‘Eddie he’s apologizing’, so he could hear it and run away. However, Eddie still ignores it and at this point his death seems inevitable. Throughout Act Two, after losing his respect, Eddie has been brooding over how everyone hates him in the neighbourhood. He loses sense of the world and turns heartless and mean when he is about to fling the table at Catherine who loves her like her real father. However, Beatrice gets in the way and stops him. ‘Eddie seems about to pick up the table and fling it at her’ when Beatrice says ‘No Eddie! Eddie!’ and he stops.
At last, when everything is out of hand, Eddie comes up with a scheme because he is desperate to stop the wedding. He says that she should go to work and meet new people, and then come back to Rodolfo, whereas before he resented her going to work and meeting new people. He hopes she will like someone else and forget Rodolfo. However, Catherine does not change her mind. Eddie says ‘I’ve kept you home too much…he’s the first guy you ever knew…now that you have a job…meet some fellas…get a different idea…could always come back to him…only kids the both of yiz…What’s the hurry’ and Catherine replies ‘no, we made it up already’.