The Important Themes In The Play Essay
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The relationship between Eddie and Catherine alters, from at first showing us family values and respect to later concentrating on the theme of betrayal. At the start of the play, both Eddie and Catherine are compassionate towards each other, and family loyalty is evident in the way that Catherine serves and respects Eddie. However, as his incestuous ambitions towards her grow, she grows in power and maturity and falls in love with Rodolfo, betraying Eddie. As a result, Eddie is jealous and he too betrays the family loyalty and breaks the Sicilian code of honour, and eventually fate leads the play to end in Greek tragedy, where Eddie is the ‘flawed hero’.
Family values are clear between Catherine and Eddie, where it is clear that they mutually love each other in a compassionate way. When Catherine shows Eddie her dress in the opening scene, he says: ‘Beautiful. Turn around, lemme see in the back. Oh, if you mother was alive to see you now! She wouldn’t believe it.’ It is evident to us that there is family love that Eddie and Catherine mutually share. Catherine clearly respects Eddie, and in return he remains loyal to his family by working hard for them.
Clearly Eddie abides by the Sicilian code of honour in doing so, and this is what earns him his community respect, shown by his good reputation with Louis, Mike and the other longshoremen. However, as the play continues, Catherine is in deep realisation of her lacking independence and falls in love with Rodolfo, even at the cost of Eddie’s disapproval. Rodolfo, an ostentatious and flamboyant young man who has a light – hearted attitude to live, is claimed repulsive and unmanly to Eddie because he is not ‘machismo’. In his conversation with Beatrice, Eddie explains his dislikes of Rodolfo; he says that:
‘He gives me the heeby – jeebies…He sings on the ships, didja know that?…And with that wacky hair; he’s like a chorus girl or sump’m.’ Eddie’s dislikes of Rodolfo are clearly irrational, and are made as a result of his jealousy of Rodolfo’s relationship with Catherine. In the Carbone household, Eddie has always been the masculine figure who attracts the attention, but with the introduction of Rodolfo in the household, the attention shifts towards Rodolfo’s way. Eddie clearly dislikes this because he wants Catherine’s full attention, and when Rodolfo sings, the playwright informs us that ‘Eddie rises and moves upstage’. As a result of his jealous ways, Eddie betrays his family loyalty with Rodolfo by insulting him and he tries to patronise Catherine, leaving her ‘pained’ and ‘sobbing’. He irrationally says:
‘That’s right. He marries you he’s got the right to be an American citizen. That’s what’s goin’ on here.’ Although it is clear to the audience that Rodolfo truly loves Catherine, Eddie suggests to Catherine that he is using her to become an American citizen, and that once he gets his right in America he will leave her. This obviously leads us to have sympathy for Rodolfo and Catherine; Rodolfo because he has been unfairly accused and Catherine because she is left ‘puzzled and surprised’.
Alfieri, who is a constant witness to the relationship between Eddie and Catherine, informs us that he is ‘powerless’ and Eddie’s death is dependant upon fate. Eddie’s strong and incestuous feelings towards Catherine lead him in visiting Alfieri, a lawyer who similarly originates from a Sicilian background. However, Eddie is disappointed in realising that American law holds nothing against the marriage of Catherine and Rodolfo, clear where Alfieri explains: ‘This is my last word, Eddie, take it or not, that’s your business. Morally and legally you have no rights, you cannot stop it; she is a free agent.’
Alfieri informs Eddie that American laws are not co-operative with the Sicilian nature, and that Eddie is powerless to stop the wedding. Immediately after this, the playwright informs us that ‘a phone booth begins to glow on the opposite side of the stage’, which theatrically shows that Eddie will call immigration. However this is done as a desperate measure which Eddie had not thoroughly thought about, which leads the audience to sympathise with him once he loses his honour.
By reporting these immigrants, he breaks the Sicilian code of honour, which is so powerful that he loses his community respect, his reputation, Catherine and eventually it costs him his life. Catherine is at first compassionate and respectful towards Eddie’s irrational and dominating ways, but as she grows in maturity, Eddie’s feelings for her too grow, but she falls in love with Rodolfo. As a result, Eddie is left feeling jealous and he breaks the Sicilian code of honour by phoning immigration. As a result of his betrayal, he looses his rep reputation, Catherine and eventually it costs him his life.