Eddie is not educated and very traditional, he is only a labourer, so when Rodolfo arrives, and instantly shows all the opposite traits, he is intelligent, funny, youthful and most of all feminine, cooking, cleaning, sewing, Eddie feels threatened, Rodolfo has prospects, the only thing keeping him at the same level as Eddie is his lack of citizenship. Eddie sees this and feels hard-done-by, he is very tense when Rodolfo is entertaining people and he tries to pin Rodolfo’s skills down to him being “[not] right” (homosexual). But when Rodolfo is to marry Catherine that barrier is to be lifted, and his jealousy builds up until he takes away his biggest opportunity, his greatest prospect, life in the US
One of the things that make him so erratic through the play is his sexual anxiety. Although he loves Beatrice, their love life has broken down and as he is seeing Catherine grow into a woman his feelings towards her turn more and more lecherous, however he is constantly reminded of their relationship of him being her carer, as he has raised her as a small child and she is family. These feelings strongly conflict with his own strong sense of morals, and his conscience and feelings are conflicted, this inner conflict makes him confrontational and erratic, as he can have no peace now in himself or the outside world, culminating in him getting rid of one reactant, the immigrants.
As the typical tragic hero, Eddie has a fatal flaw within himself that leads to his downfall. It is not his feelings for Catherine nor his lack of education or his jealousy, it is his unwillingness to “settle for half”, as Alfieri says, he is “himself purely” he knows not how to compromise so his seeming inability to let anything go and get on with life, his conflict in and out because he cannot give up the fight and make amends all lead towards the final scene, where all his raw emotions have set their course and finally collide, with his attacking Marco and eventual death.
Marcos view of justice is straight from traditional rural Sicily and this shows in that it is very much based upon honour, this directly clashes with eddies sense of sticking to the rules to avoid bad consequences, to save face. In Sicily, while there is hardly any mistrust of authority, it is very rural, undeveloped and disconnected, most problems are solved on a personal level, and judged by old traditions or rites or by what is normally socially accepted by people.
Issues are dealt with in much the same way, but it is less degraded and crime ridden, he sees all these bad traits as integral to eddies personality, so he is not just juxtaposed into the community but he has near constant contact with the one person that embodies its faults. He also comes from a head-of-family role and has the same alpha male domineering complex as Eddie, this, at first gives them something to relate to in each other, but Marco being related to Beatrice he feels defensive of her, he sees Eddie being domineering and a strange role-reversal takes place in which Marco goes from being profusely thankful and uneasy when he first comes to their house to intimidating Eddie with shows of power and seeing Eddie as the intruder into his family.
Beatrice acts as the keeper of the peace throughout the play, however in most conflict she seems almost withdrawn, she takes no sides for most of the play and finds no need to. She has no strong notions of vengeance and is the most ready character to compromise. Although, sometimes this compromise can shift towards shrinking away from conflict, she has her talk about eddies behaviour with Catherine, not Eddie, and Eddie chides her at the beginning for having “such a heart that [he’d] end up on the floor”. She seems to be so as if to be a symbol of “settl[ing] for half” Eddie, whose inability to “settle for half” drives the play, dies in her arms after all.
Rodolfo ; Catherine
Rodolfo and Catherine have no visible feeling of justice through the play. They, instead, seem to be caught up in everyone else’s. Rodolfo in his pursuit of the ‘American dream’ is up in the air, he is living with a man set against him for no visible reason than that which brings others to like him. America has not brought him all that he had hoped, but he cannot return to italy and has no intention to.
Alfieri is the crossroads for these different worlds, while he is who they come to for anything outside of the law of the community and he does not want to bring the US’s justice to every citizen of red hook his desk is a constant looming reminder of the us legal system’s presence and he has his obligation as a lawyer and is therefore mistrusted, but he is placed in the heart of Red Hook and he himself is originally from Red Hook. It is by this that he is removed from the story but able to understand and can act as the play’s narrator, he is an onlooker, watching the life of a “pure”, but flawed, man come crashing down, powerless to act, almost as if he represents Arthur miller hearing the story of Pete Panto whom the play is based upon. Miller bestows upon him the most level headed, rational sense of justice, instead using him and the public telephone to symbolize the presence of US law, and the community’s settling for half, by allowing this presence.