Marco, although conventionally masculine, is still able to cause a conflict with Eddie or should I say Eddie is, still able to cause a conflict with Marco. Marco and Eddie conflict because Marcos manliness overshadows that of Eddie and this makes Eddie feel threatened. When Marco first arrives Arthur Miller (author) describes him as “a square-built peasant of thirty-two, suspicious, tender and quiet voiced”. Eddie shows straight away his discontent for Rodolpho and his preference for Marco. This is shown by the stage directions on the page “(he is coming more and more to address Marco only).
The stage directions tell anyone who wants to perform the play how the characters are meant to be acting and it also helps the reader to visualise what is happening. Marco and Eddie manage to get along the whole way through Act One, but Marco gets increasingly annoyed at Eddie’s judging of Rodolpho and this leads to conflict when Eddie teaches Rodolpho to box. It starts off as a harmless boxing lesson teaching Rodolpho to keep his hands up and letting him punch Eddie, but then Eddie lands a big punch on Rodolpho and he staggers away.
Marco then leaps up out of his chair, but the situation is quickly cooled down and Rodolpho and Catherine begin to dance, but this doesn’t stop Marco challenging Eddie to a test of strength. Marco asks Eddie “can you lift this chair” Eddie is a taken back by the challenge and asks Marco “what do you mean”, Marco then demonstrates to Eddie but doesn’t lift the chair to make Eddie think he can’t do it. Eddie, trying to be the manlier, quickly accepts the challenge but is unable to lift the chair. This makes him feel embarrassed and laughs about the fact that it is hard and makes an excuse about it being at an angle.
But Marco then lifts the chair and without laughing or rubbing it in his face just stares into Eddie’s eyes, with the chair raised above his head as if to attack Eddie. By doing this Marco is warning to stop hassling his brother and backing up his threat by showing that he is stronger than Eddie. Throughout the play there are links between Manliness, hostility and aggression and they all end up linking to a conflict of some kind. This isn’t surprising as they all have links to violence. Manliness is describer by the ‘Chambers Concise dictionary’ as; brave, pertaining to manhood, not childish or womanish.
This has a strong link to Eddie’s views on manliness and also links with hostility and aggression. If someone is brave they are normally not afraid to be hostile or aggressive and a child or woman is normally related to innocence and essentially not hostile or aggressive. Hostility is described as; enmity or unfriendliness, inhospitable, acts or warfare. Hostility doesn’t really figure in the Act One apart from Eddies open dislike of Rodolpho, but in Act Two Eddie becomes hostile and is inhospitable to Marco and Rodolpho and forces them to move to the apartment upstairs.
Warfare is also a feature, such as when Rodolpho’s boxing lesson turns into a real fight, when Marco and Eddie have a test of strength, when Eddie drunkenly attacks Rodolpho and when Marco kills Eddie. All of these put together also shows that Eddie is somewhat a bully, he attacks Rodolpho because he knows that he is stronger than him and that he will fight back, but won’t attack Marco as he knows he isn’t as strong as him and it also shows that Eddie is partial to conflict as it his him that instigates the hostilities with Rodolpho and it is him that causes the hostilities with Marco.
Aggression is described as; aggressive behaviour or trouble making. There is a lot of aggression throughout the play. At the start Eddie becomes aggressive when he thinks that Catherine has gone behind his back and taken a job as stenographer. Although this is not physical aggression this comes later when there are other men around such as when he boxes with Rodolpho or drunkenly attacks Rodolpho. The three link together intricately throughout the play and without each other the play would have a very different beginning, middle and end.
For instance without the ideas of manliness Eddie wouldn’t have a problem with Rodolpho and wouldn’t feel threatened by Marco and therefore their wouldn’t be any aggression or hostility between the three of them. Without the hostility between Marco, Rodolpho and Eddie their wouldn’t be any aggression and the ideas of manliness would run out of fruit to bear as they would get used to each other. Without aggression Eddie would never hit Rodolpho and therefore Marco wouldn’t challenge Eddie and therefore there would never be a conflict between them and Eddie and Marco wouldn’t fight and Eddie wouldn’t die and Marco wouldn’t go to prison.
The female characters have seemingly minor roles to play, but are very important in the overall make up of the play. Because Eddie has lived with two women for a long time he is used to being able to have control and not having have any threat to his manliness. For this reason some of the blame for the way Eddie is could be placed on Catherine and Beatrice although they did not intentionally mean it. But Beatrice and Catherine also suffer for the way Eddie is.
For instance Beatrice suffers because of Eddies inability to perform sexually and this causes friction, between Beatrice and Eddie and it also causes Eddie to become lustful, namely for Catherine but he knows he can’t have her as she is his niece and this would discredit him from the community. For this reason Catherine is potentially to blame for Eddies downfall as her naivety allows Eddie to control her and makes her unable to notice Eddie’s obsession with her, this is shown when she reacts in horror when Beatrice tells Eddie that “you can’t have her”.
Although the women allowing Eddie to be in control over them helped in the downfall of Eddie it was actually them not letting him be in control and threatening his manliness that did more to harm Eddie than letting him be in control. For example in the beginning of the play Beatrice has a go at Eddie about their love life, or lack of it Eddie gets annoyed and says he doesn’t want to hear another word about it and Beatrice replies with a simple “okay”. This shows Eddies control.
But later on in the play Beatrice has a go at Eddie about his attitude towards Marco and Rodolpho and tells Eddie “I don’t wanna hear no more about it, you understand? Nothin” This is a contrast from before when Eddie tells Beatrice that he doesn’t want to hear anything about it. Catherine also causes Eddie to feel threatened but in a more naive way. For example when Eddie has a go at Catherine because he thinks her skirt is “too short” and she is “walking wavy”, Eddie can’t tell Catherine why he doesn’t want her wearing those clothes, she begins to argue and therefore threaten Eddies authority.
The ideas of manliness, hostility and aggression are pivotal for the structure of the play to succeed; the three ideas are used prophetically to show the audience that the play can only end in a hostile and aggressive disaster as a result of the characters manly features. Arthur Miller’s views aren’t clearly portrayed in the play, but I think that he feels hostility and aggression doesn’t solve anything and often the real man is the one who will try to discuss issues and reach a compromise.