the slum that faces the bay on the seaward side of Brooklyn Bridge and as the gullet of New York swallowing the tonnage of the world. It was a socially deprived area, where succeeding generations of immigrants from Europe, both legal and illegal, found a home and work. There was a long-established Italian community in the area. The Culture and Society of Red Hook. Given the rather traditional values of Italian-American society in the middle of the twentieth century and the fact that most of the men earned their living from hard physical labour in the dockyards and elsewhere, it is
not surprising that Red Hook was quite a raw, masculine and even macho society. Manhood, which involved strength and aggression (and proving it) was very important. Women were expected to conform to an image of purity and domestic virtue and, as Beatrice does, gain most of their satisfaction from cooking and maintaining the household. The men expected to be respected and obeyed as of right and the women had to submit to them in decision- making. The influence of the Roman Catholic Church was strong and most people had traditional moral views.
The family and the extended family were of major importance as was the community. Many of the families were recent immigrants from Southern Italy, the original home of the Mafia, and family and blood ties were often demonstrated through the practice of vendetta, that is the obligation on the rest of the family to take revenge on anyone who insulted or harmed any of its members. It was, therefore, a culture in which a mans reputation (for strength and honesty, for example) was crucial to him and where any affront to a persons honour had to be avenged.
This may help you to understand the pressure that Eddie and Marco are under at the end of the play. The Legal Background. In the first 20 years of the Twentieth Century, over three million Italians emigrated to the U. S. A. to escape from the poverty of their homeland and in the hope of a better life in America. These were legal immigrants to America, but the local population grew increasingly hostile to the Italian community.
In the early 1920s the American government passed laws to restrict immigration and afterwards only four thousand Italians were allowed to enter the U. S. A. legally each year. Far more than this number were desperate to escape the poverty of their own country. Two such were the submarines, Marco and Rodolpho, cousins of Beatrice, who enter America illegally on the evening the play opens. One of the few ways an illegal immigrant could gain the right to remain in America legitimately was to marry an American citizen. This sometimes meant that illegal immigrants married not for love, but simply to remain in the country. We can perhaps better understand Eddies fears about Rodolpho when we know this 7. The Carbone Familys Background.
A playwright, unlike a novelist, cannot describe characters and situations to an audience. Details about characters and their relationships have to be revealed gradually and subtly. What, then, do we know about the Carbone family and the relationships within it? The Carbones live in an apartment in a tenement building, at 441 Saxon Street, Brooklyn, which Miller describes as a workers flat, clean, sparse, homely. Eddie, aged 40, is a large, strong man who enjoys male pursuits and going bowling with his friends. He is a longshoreman (i. e. he works in the docks). Beatrice is a traditional 1950s housewife.
She keeps the flat looking immaculate, cooks and, at least in the early part of the play, dutifully defers to Eddie in everything. She stands up to Eddie much more as the action unfolds, and objects to his overprotective attitude to Catherine. Catherine, Beatrices attractive 17-year-old niece, had been adopted by Eddie and Beatrice when her parents died. Catherine is very fond of Eddie but there is growing tension between them because of Catherines wish to start work and Eddies desire to protect her from, as he sees them, the dangers of the adult world. The Eddie Beatrice Catherine Triangle.
The relationship between these three is the fOcus of Act I. Eddie and Beatrice have obviously had a warm, loving relationship but there are currently stresses. In Catherines opinion, and in Eddies too, Beatrice nags her husband. Catherine tells Rodolpho: If I was a wife, I would make a man happy instead of going on at him all the time (Implying that Beatrice does go on at Eddie. ) Eddie certainly agrees with Catherines view. He tells Beatrice: You didnt used to jump on me all the time about everything. The last year or two I come in the house I dont know whats gonna hit me.
Its a shooting gallery in here and Im the pigeon. Part of the tension is caused by Eddies belief that he should be the master in the house and Beatrices increasing wish to express her own view. This leads Eddie to say, I dont like the way you talk to me, Beatrice, whenever Beatrice disagrees with him. The Catherine Rodolpho Eddie Triangle. When Eddie first hears that Beatrices cousins have arrived he says it would be an honour to help them, despite the obvious risks involved. He knows how important it is to give the men a chance to work to send money back to Italy.
There is no doubt that Eddie understands the poverty they are escaping as his own father had come to the U. S. A. from Italy. Eddies willingness to offer hospitality shows that he is a good man, aware of his responsibilities to others in the Italian-American community. This makes his later actions an even greater shock. Eddie is immediately impressed by the quiet dignity and maturity of Marco, but he is equally quickly irritated by Rodolpho. This is partly because of Rodolphos personality, for he is an extrovert, quite loud, showy, lively and fun- loving, but also because of his appearance.
Eddies stereotyping of Rodolpho because of his blond hair and his voice shows prejudice, which reflects not just Eddies attitudes but those of his time and culture. . The Catherine Rodolpho Eddie Triangle Things which irritate Eddie These are the things about Rodolpho which irritate Eddie: His appearance; especially his blond wacky hair. Eddie says of Rodolpho: hes like a chorus girl or sumpn. His abilities and talents, e. g. dressmaking and cooking, which Eddie thinks are things only a woman should do. This leads him to doubt whether Rodolpho is a real man.
His fondness for singing out loud in his high tenor voice, even on the ships. Eddie is embarrassed that other men laugh at Rodolpho for this. He is particularly angry when Rodolpho sings Paper Doll because he thinks the words may be related to Catherine and he becomes aware of the growing romance between her and Rodolpho. The stage directions state that Eddie is puffed with trouble when he notices the growing affection between Catherine and Rodolpho. These are the things that annoy Eddie at first, but annoyance becomes hate when he realises that Rodolpho is a rival for Catherine.
In Act II, Eddie is furious with Catherine and Rodolpho for going to the cinema and staying out late. Eddie believes that Rodolpho is deliberately dating Catherine in the hope of marrying her and being able to stay in America. It is difficult to decide whether this is a genuine concern or whether Eddie is using it as an excuse to cover his real feeling which is sexual jealousy. What do you think? It is unlikely that a man like Eddie would consider Rodolpho as a suitable partner for Catherine, even if there was no sexual jealousy involved. . The Catherine Rodolpho Eddie Triangle Eddies motives
Whatever his motives, be they genuine concern to protect his niece or sexual jealousy, Eddie tries his hardest to turn Catherine against Rodolpho and split them up. He tries to humiliate Rodolpho in front of Catherine in the following ways: He cleverly introduces the subject of boxing (a suitably masculine activity for Eddie) and, while pretending to teach Rodolpho how to box, hits him in the mouth. For Eddie, this demonstrates to Catherine what a weak man Rodolpho is and what a strong one he (Eddie) is. It also shows that Eddie thinks women are more attracted to strong, aggressive males.