From Marco’s first appearance on stage it is clear that Miller intended to portray him as cautious and respectful. In the stage directions, Miller describes him as “suspicious, tender”. The use of the word “suspicious” tells us that Marco is aware of the dangers he and his brother face as immigrants and as such trusts very few people. The word “tender” supports this idea as it implies that Marco is being careful about what he says as well as being careful to not overstep any boundaries, an idea further supported by the fact that he either sticks only to one or two word answers such as “thank you” or just nodding. The way Marco has been presented shows that he is very careful by nature and as such will obey those who are in charge. This is first demonstrated after the brothers enter the apartment.
After addressing Beatrice, the first thing that Marco tells Eddie is that when “ you (Eddie) say go, we will go”. Almost immediately after meeting the Carbone family Marco states that he will obey Eddies commands and in doing so establishes a hierarchy, in which Eddie is at the highest point. When asked about the condition of life in Italy Marco responds by saying it’s “bad”. Though on the surface this seems like a very basic description when taken into context it displays just how horrible conditions are there.
Marco states that his eldest son is “sick in the chest” and that if he had stayed “they (the children) will never grow up”. These sentences show the suffering present in Italy and the fact that Marco doesn’t explicitly refer to the possibility of his children dying and rather only vaguely hints to it shows the fact that while he knows that it is a possibility he refuses to accept it. So when Marco describes the situation as “bad” what Miller is doing is allowing the audience to imagine for themselves just how bad the situation is. This explains why Marco has come to the US; he is trying to support his family back home and ensure their survival.
When Rodolpho first sees the house he exclaims that he thought the Carbone’s “were poor”. This implies that Rodolpho is seeing their house as very big compared to what he would be used to, which shows just how poor Rodolpho’s family are. Additionally the way Miller has Rodolpho speak this line shows a lot about his character; Miller presents him as excitable and naive through the fact that while Marco is being quiet and careful Rodolpho is talking loudly and being playful. This idea is added onto when Rodolpho answers Catherine’s question about her appearance by saying the “Danes invaded Sicily”. This is clearly intended to be a joke and shows that Rodolpho is being playful with Catherine, and also hints to the fact that Rodolpho might be attracted to her.
Miller adds to Rodolpho’s childlike nature when he has him describe life back in Sicily. While Marco describes the negativities of life back home Rodolpho decides to make it humorous describing how everything in the town “you gotta push”. His forwardness shows how naive he is. This is further demonstrated when he describes his reasons for coming to America. Rodolpho states that “when [he] is rich” he will “buy a motorcycle”. The fact that he says “when [he] is rich” shows just how little he has thought the plan through. Eddie has been working in America his entire life and is nowhere near being considered being rich, while Rodolpho just assumes he will be. Additionally, his dream of owning a “motorcycle” is what could be described as a young man’s dream i.e. a person in their youth further adding to the idea that Rodolpho is very childlike.
In the relationship between Marco and Rodolpho, Miller makes it clear that Marco is the one with the authority. This is first shown when Marco says to Rodolpho “Shh! Come”. In this line it is clear that Marco is commanding Rodolpho and since he follows Marco’s commands we can assume that this is normal for them. Furthermore it is Marco who knocks on the door of the apartment implying it is he who takes responsibility. When Rodolpho mentions how he wants to own a motorbike, Marco replies by saying “when you have no wife you have dreams”. The use of the word dreams suggests that Marco sees Rodolpho’s ambition as unrealistic and as nothing more than just childish wishes. Additionally it could show that Marco sees Rodolpho as not having any responsibilities as he does not have a wife.
Furthermore when Rodolpho is describing his first singing performance he states on having lived “six months on that night” to which Marco “nods doubtfully” and responds that they in fact only lived two months off the performance. The hyperbole made by Rodolpho seems to confirm the idea of him being a childish figure therefore making Marco the adult figure in the relationship. When Eddie questions Rodolpho about whether or not he “want[s] to be picked up” Marco replies by rising and saying “no – no”. Marco’s dominance is displayed by the fact that he replies for Rodolpho and because of the fact that he does it so quickly. Additionally he then goes on to tell Rodolpho “you’ll be quiet” and the use of an imperative further demonstrated the dominance Marco has over Rodolpho.
When Catherine sees Rodolpho she questions him “wondrously” about his complexion. Wondrously shows that Catherine is intrigued by Rodolpho’s appearance as well as possibly hinting to the fact that she finds him attractive and is curious about him. Furthermore she then exclaims to Beatrice that he is “practically blond” again showing her interest in him. Additionally Miller heavily suggests Catherine’s interest toward Rodolpho when she is described as asking him whether he’s “married too”. What this does is show to the audience that Catherine is very interested in Rodolpho and is already considering starting a relationship with him. When Miller describes Eddie as coming to “address Marco only” what he is doing is showing the audience the start of Eddies disapproval of Rodolpho.
This all stems from the fact that in Eddie’s eyes he sees Marco as a real man, strong and masculine, whereas Rodolpho is seen as weak and effeminate. This is added onto when Eddie interrupts Rodolpho’s singing and says “we never had no singers here”. While this may just be concern for him it could also be interpreted as Eddie being jealous of all the attention Roldolpho is receiving and so purposefully stopped him. In contrast Catherine responds to Eddie’s interruption by saying “leave him finish”. The fact that Catherine, who had prior to this point been entirely dependant on Eddie’s opinions, goes against Eddie’s wishes is significant and shows just how deep her attraction for Rodolpho goes.