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. 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 Bridgethe 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. The whole neighbourhood was cryin’. ‘ 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 woulda 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. 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’ 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 patronising 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 nowheres 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 respect 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. 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].