Eddie Carbone is an American-Sicilian man working in Brooklyn. He works as a longshoreman: carrying crates and goods from the ships. He is quite a large man. His job requires him to be strong and a good worker. In other words he is very masculine. He is an ordinary man.
He lives with his wife and niece, whom he treats like a daughter, and like all good men should do, he works every day to provide them with enough money to survive on. Eddie is a man’s man. He lives within a close-knit community of Sicilians and is a well respected member of society. Eddie sees himself as a prime example of how a man should act and look.
The ending of a view from the bridge is fairly predictable from the beginning as it is hinted at by the narrator Alfieri throughout the first scene until the climax at the end of scene one where it becomes evident to us that a fall is about to occur. Many factors contribute to the tragic downfall of Eddie Carbone. However it is his limited understanding of what it means to be a man that is the most prominent. Eddie’s perception of what it means to be a man is also connected with his views of women.
Eddie’s forbidden love for Catherine is also one of the main driving forces behind the tragedy. The downfall of Eddie Carbone may have eventually occurred even without Marco and Rodolpho coming over from Italy as his love for Catherine was unnatural. Marcos strong belief in the Sicilian codes of conduct cause him to fight Eddie. Eddie’s limited understanding of what it means to be a man becomes damaged and challenged during the play, he responds terribly to these and doesn’t approve when other men do not act as he believes men should. In Alfieri’s opening speech he makes it clear that something bad is about to occur. He says ‘Sat there as powerless as I, and watched it run its bloody course.
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This one’s name was Eddie Carbone… .’ This makes it clear that Eddie too is to follow the fate that something bad, but unstoppable is going to happen. Alfieri, like a narrator in a Greek tragedy, characterizes the chorus in the play and he tells the story and suggests eddies downfall throughout the play. ‘There was a future; there was a trouble that would not go away’. Here Alfieri is explaining that even if Rodolpho and Marco hadn’t arrived, Eddie’s love for Catherine would ” ve bought a downfall.
Especially seeing as his relationship with Beatrice was becoming weaker and weaker. ‘When am I gonna become a wife again, Eddie?’ Alfieri also helps to set the background of the play. Eddie holds an old fashioned, limited view of masculinity. His opinions of what it means to be masculine involve fairly stereotypical features, such as strength and ability. Characteristics that people generally associate with a male figure are strength, silent. The time that they play is set in doesn’t help to widen Eddie’s view of masculinity.
The area, Redhook, is described by the lawyer Alfieri. But this is Redhook, not Sicily. This is the slum that faces the bay on the seaward side of Brooklyn Bridge… the gullet of New York swallowing the tonnage of the world’. It accommodated some of the worst people of the time, and though there were laws the country was controlled by gangsters. ‘In those days, Al Capone, the greatest Carthaginian of all, was learning his trade on these pavements, and Frankie Yale himself was cut precisely in half by a machine-gun on the corner of Union Street, two blocks away’.
This would maybe inspire Eddie to act tough and strong. He understands that these gangsters are undeniably very masculine figures and that may affect him. All the immigrants came to this area, that’s why the community was so close-knit. It is also why it was so devastating to betray family or friends by reporting immigrants. When Eddie warns Catherine not to say anything about the illegal immigrants coming to stay with them he tells the story of a boy who reported his uncle.
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‘The whole neighbourhood was cry in’.’ The worst thing you could do was betray your family. However Eddie goes against his own words and reports the cousins to make sure that Catherine cannot marry Rodolpho. But when Eddie is exposed, in front of the neighbourhood, he is cast away. He attempts to persuade the community that he didn’t report the cousins as that’s not what a man would do, but this only leads to his tragic downfall. Alfieri is a lawyer and he still does not report the cousins because of the unspoken law, this gives us an idea of how desperate Eddie must have been. Eddie considers that being a man means you ought be strong, silent, respected, and invincible, have a hero factor, provide for and support your family and be honourable.
Eddie understands that it is a man’s place to work, and women aren’t capable to be employed in places that require strength. Strength is an obvious quality in a man; this becomes clear when Eddie, Louis and Mike are discussing Marco and Rodolpho working on the ships. ‘He’s a regular bull, I seen him the other day lifting coffee bags over the Matson Line. They leave him alone he would a load the whole ship by himself’. Men are structured differently to women and this enables them to hold the image that they are stronger individuals.
They are perceived as less delicate and agile, which are words that are predominantly more applicable to women. This can be linked with the idea that Eddie is invincible. ‘Come on, kid, Put sump’m behind it, you can’t hurt me’. Eddie never considers himself weak, that wouldn’t be regarded as the ‘macho’ character that all men play up to like heroes. Heroes are typically portrayed as men. Heroes are admired and honoured – a status that all men hope to hold.
‘I give them the blankets off my bed! Six months I kept them like my own brothers’. Eddie believes by taking in the immigrants he is saving their lives and is therefore a ‘hero’ character. ‘Real men’ in eddies opinion should be bread-winners, supporting their family and providing for them. The belief that Eddie should support his family is displayed when he says ‘I supported you this long, I support you a little more’. During one of the first conversations that are held between the Carbone family and the immigrants the conversation turns to the subject of wives and families. Here is where Marco becomes favoured by Eddie and Eddie begins to show his dislike for Rodolpho.
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It is Marco who talks about his family being the reason he came to the country, so he could provide for them. ‘What can I do? The older one is sick in his chest. My wife – she feeds them from her own mouth. I tell you the truth; if I stay there they will never grow up. They eat the sunshine’. It is a man’s job to keep his family fed and sheltered.
It could be thought that Eddie believes he is to be respected by everyone, as he deserves the most respect and holds the most authority. He holds himself highest. ‘It’s after the pay-off, then they ” ll have to scramble like the rest of us’. In this quote Eddie demonstrates that he holds himself high, as if he represents every man. He believes that they should all respect him as he is the ‘working man’ and provides for his family. It is him who enables them to have a place to live and food to eat.
Being this kind of man is one of the factors in Eddie’s view of masculinity. Eddie resides in a patriarchal household. In his opinion the women should obey, serve and respect him. ‘I want my respect, Beatrice, and you know what I’m talking about’. This quote illustrates that Eddie believes that a woman should look up to and respect her husband or any man. ‘A wife is supposed to believe the husband’.
Here it comes across that the opinion that Eddie holds is that it is obligatory for a wife to have faith in her husband, and accept everything he says as the truth. Not only does Eddie believe that his stereotypical view, a woman having to respect the man no matter what, applies to his wife, he believes it about other women too, for example his niece – Catherine. ‘Katie, I promised your mother on her deathbed. I’m responsible for you. You ” re a baby; you don’t understand these things’. ‘Listen kid…
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.’ Here Eddie puts Catherine down because she’s younger than him, she has no authority. Eddie feels that he is responsible for her and that puts him in a similar position to a parental figure. You are meant to ‘respect your elders’. Eddie addresses Catherine in a fairly patronizing way. He repeatedly orders Catherine to listen to him, directing the attention and respect towards himself. Eddie controls Catherine and believes it’s completely within his ability.
‘You ” ll never get nowhere’s unless you finish school. You can’t take no job. Why didn’t you ask me before you take a job?’ Eddie also tries to control Rodolpho through Marco. ‘EDDIE: Well, Marco, till he came here she was never out on the street twelve o’clock at night.
MARCO: [to RODOLPHO] you come home early now’. Eddie is indirectly taking control of Rodolpho. Because Eddie is hosting these illegal immigrants he thinks that he is perceived as a good, generous man, making people favour him. ‘The man would be honoured to lend me a place to sleep’. Eddie looks down on the cousins. ‘You ” re saving their lives’.
He sees himself taking them in as a saintly act he also regards the place where they came from as low. ‘They probably didn’t see a tablecloth in their whole where they came from’. The way Eddie regards the cousins or immigrants as ‘them’ or ‘they’ is ironic as he is also originally from that background. Eddie loses respect from the whole community, because as he states earlier in the book [QUOTE ABOUT NO ONE TALKS TO SNITCH].
It doesn’t just affect the Carbone family and the cousins, it affects the whole community. Eddie even loses resp ect from Beatrice, his wife. She is no longer naive and doesn’t trust Eddie’s every word. She stands up for what she believes in and what she feels is right. ‘I’m sick and tired of it!’ Beatrice shouts at Eddie.
We know that Eddie wants to direct attention to himself through his speech. The word ‘listen’ is often used and repeated within a sentence. Eddie doesn’t communicate well and uses his physical presence to make up for the fact that he can’t express his point easily. He never actually says to Catherine ‘No, you can’t see Rodolpho’ because he doesn’t have the strength that he thinks he holds instead he attempts to persuade her ‘Maybe you ” ll see different in a couple of months.
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I mean you be surprised, it don’t have to be him’ even when Catherine makes a solid choice to marry Rodolpho Eddie still tries to dissuade her. Eddie is fairly uneducated and this is evident from his speech ‘You look like one of them girls that went to college’ Not only does this quote demonstrate his bad grammar but it also shows that neither him nor Catherine have attended college. This is why he pushes Catherine because he has high hopes for her ‘I know she ” ll be in the office, but that ain’t what I had in mind’. Because Eddie can’t articulate well he is found in a similar position to Marco, whereas Rodolpho speaks fluently and may possibly intimidate Eddie. This is why instead of talking to Rodolpho about his insecurities, he finds himself physically challenging Rodolpho. ‘[Quote from book where they fight].
Marco fits perfectly into eddies stereotypical view of masculinity. Eddie says ‘Marco goes round like a man: nobody kids Marco’. Later on in the book Marco is described by Louis as a bull. ‘He’s a regular bull, I seen him the other day lifting coffee bags over the Matson Line.
They leave him alone he would a load the whole ship by himself’. Eddie respects Marco for his strength. He also respects him as he displays little emotion and isn’t chatty. A quality which, by Eddie, is perceived as feminine.
Marco’s English is limited and this is probably the reason that he doesn’t freely express how he feels. His inability to articulate is something in common that Eddie and Marco possess. As Eddie views himself as a ‘man’, any likeness between him and Marco is deemed to be a masculine one. The respect he shows Marco, for instance, addressing him first or solely [Quote ABOUT BOUTS] reflects Eddie’s narrow but strong beliefs of what it means to be a man. It is eddies view of masculinity that ultimately leads to his downfall as he does not accept Rodolpho as a ‘real man’ like Marco. Rodolpho is a very skilled working man.
In Italy he was taught how to perform in all kinds of professions such as sewing, cooking and singing. Having multiple skills would ” ve enabled Rodolpho to get work and make money. However these skills that he possesses are perceived as homosexual by Eddie. Despite the fact that Rodolpho talks about pushing taxis up the hill for money back in his country – a job which requires strength, Eddie picks up on the other qualities. These qualities make Rodolpho well-rounded and in fact would enable him to provide better for a family. This isn’t how it’s seen by Eddie as he already has a dislike for Rodolpho as he is a threat to Eddie’s love for Catherine.
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Rodolpho aspires to be a messenger [QUOTE] this doesn’t fit into Eddie’s idea of the ‘American dream’ which he too believes or believed I, beliefs that even he, an immigrant, can make something of himself in the promised land. Rodolpho’s aspirations aren’t so that he can become famous or make something of himself. They are modest – however Eddie dismissed them as if they aren’t a reason for him to be in America. After all he doesn’t want to become famous in America or he doesn’t want to work to send money back to a family. ‘If you come in the house and you didn’t know who was sing in’, you wouldn’t be look in’ for him; you’d be look in’ for her’. Rodolpho sings whilst he works and the other men on the docks mock him for this.
‘Paper Doll they ” re call in’ him, canary. He’s like a weird’. Here Eddie is suggesting that Rodolpho is homosexual and seems to think that because Rodolpho sings, it back’s up Eddie’s point as if it is evidence. When Catherine announces that she and Rodolpho are getting married Eddie can’t hold back his jealousy and insinuates that Rodolpho isn’t capable of providing for Catherine like he did. ‘What you gonna be? . C’mon show me!’ Here Eddie is implies that Rodolpho isn’t man enough to be a husband.
This leads to Eddie and Marco fighting at the end of the play where Eddie is killed. Eddie has an unhealthy love for Catherine. This is noticeable from the beginning but then it is harmless, when Rodolpho and Marco arrive Eddie’s feelings towards Catherine become clearer. His jealous streak shows and his character changes. He becomes even more protective over Catherine.
He doesn’t like anyone else touching her or having her attention. ‘Punk… son-of-a-bitch punk… Puts his dirty filthy hands on her like a goddam thief!’ this shows that Eddie thinks of Catherine as a possession, for only him to have. She is his and only his. Rodolpho cannot ‘steal’ her from him as she is not his in the first place, she isn’t even his daughter.
At the end of act One Catherine asks Rodolpho to dance and then we read in the stage directions that ‘[Eddie freezes]’. This has angered Eddie as he feels that Catherine is directing her attention towards Rodolpho and not Eddie for once. Later on when Eddie brings up the subject of boxing, he persuades Rodolpho to have a go at boxing. This isn’t an innocent act.
‘[Eddie feints with his left hand and lands with his right. It mildly staggers Rodolpho. Marco rises. ]’ Eddie has intentionally hit Rodolpho and Marco senses that it was deliberate. He rises as he is ready to defend his brother from harm. Eddie’s reasoning for hitting Rodolpho is clear, because he is in love with Catherine and seeing Rodolpho dance with her made him jealous – hitting him was Eddie’s way of getting him back.
This forbidden love for Catherine is another factor that leads to Eddie’s downfall but not the only one. In Sicilian tradition there are certain unspoken laws. Marco and Rodolpho, being from this country, strongly believe in them. These laws that Marco follows are the reason that he fights Eddie at the end of act two.
When Marco visits Alfieri once he has been caught by the immigration bureau. ‘In my country he would be dead by now. He would not live this long.’ ‘The law? All the law is not in a book.’ Obtaining justice means more to Marco than written laws, this reflects what I wrote earlier regarding Al Capone. Justice was obtained but not through written law. We see that these written laws, such as omer t’a, are the reasons that Marco acts the way he does towards Eddie at the end of the play. Eddie favours Justice as it’s subject to his emotions, however one thing which at the beginning he considers a crime, betraying his family but reporting the immigrants to the bureau, he does and obeys the written law but breaks the unspoken.
Eddie is willing to break written laws to kill Marco to retrieve his name in order to obtain justice. Marco doesn’t comprehend why Eddie shouldn’t be put into prison for betraying him and Marco, and for breaking the Sicilian laws. Sicilian laws are what drive Marco to find Eddie at the end of the play. He shouts to Eddie ‘Animal! You go on your knees to me!’ Eddie, though throughout the play he has been the highest character, is now one of the lowest. Even Marco, an illegal immigrant has a higher status within the community than Eddie does. Eddie broke the Sicilian laws and this is why Marco kills Eddie.
‘A mans reputation is central to his being. His name is his reputation: his reputation is embodied in his name. To lose your name is to lose your reputation. Your reputation is given to you by those who know you.
Eddies breech of the code of silence [omer t’a] excludes him from the community. He is persona non g rata. He has lost his name. He is willing to kill to get it back’. This is a prime example of why eddies view of masculinity is what drives the tragedy.
He is respected, but then in an act of foolishness he reports the cousins to the immigration bureau. He loses his name and all respect for himself and is willing to kill Marco to get his name back. [QUOTE ‘I want my name’]. When Marco shouts ‘Eddie Carbone.’ outside Eddie’s apartment, Eddie replies by chanting his name.
He says to Marco ‘Now gimme my name!’ Eddie believes that Marco has taken his name. Eddie shouts out to the crowd ‘Maybe he came to apologise to me’. Eddie tries to make the crowd think that it is Marco, who has done wrong by taking Eddie’s name, Marco has damaged Eddie’s pride and Eddie believes he should pay for this. The biggest factor that drives the tragedy is definitely Eddie’s narrowed view of what it means to be a mean.
The cousins coming to America only acted as a catalyst for what was bound to happen between the Carbone family as Eddie’s inappropriate love for Catherine would ” ve driven them apart eventually. Rodolpho is like a threat to Eddie as he might take Catherine away from him. Eddie not only has stereotypical views on men but on women too. He believes they should look after the house, stay at home and care for their husbands. He sees men as stronger and more authoritative than women. He therefore believes strongly in men having a reputation.
This is what finally causes Eddie and Marco to fight, as Eddie wants his name and reputation back. This is how Eddie’s understanding of what it means to be a man leads to his downfall and so drives the tragedy.