Instinct and prejudice

Topic: HistoryWestern Europe
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Last updated: September 16, 2020

We can say that because he is intellectually limited he acts by instinct and prejudice. He is quite comic in his attempt to explain and justify his suspicions of Rodolpho- protesting that he has fair hair, a high singing voice, and a taste for feminine occupations such as cooking and dress- making. It is all summed up in the conviction that he is homosexual and therefore not a suitable husband for Catherine. Quote Eddie is most at home on a physical level- a big, strong, impulsive man.However, Eddie has a primitive view and limited people cannot believe that United States law will allow a young girl to be married to a man who, he suspects, ‘ain’t right’. Eddie questions Rodolpho’s sexuality but it tells us more about Eddie’s possessiveness towards Catherine than about Rodolpho himself.

Instead of being able to see that Rodolpho has the skill to alter a dress, Eddie uses it as an example of his femininity. Eddie sees this as wrongful and cries out, ‘He’s stealing from me!’ immediately revealing his possessiveness. Alfieri tells him that the law cannot do anything and that he must let Catherine do as she wants, but Eddie will not back down; he does not listen to anybody else’s opinion, therefore further driving a wedge between himself and Catherine.The idea of honour often overlaps with the notion of being a man in the macho sense of the word.

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Marco and Eddie both naturally assume that they must defend their honour by fighting. Rodolpho is different because he does not share the need for violence to prove his masculinity, and this is shown in the scene where he takes Eddie’s hand and kisses it. When Eddie ignores this gesture and Beatrice asks, ‘Only blood is good?’ The answer unfortunately is ‘Yes’.

Eddie’s response is revealing when he says, ‘What he does don’t mean nothin’ to nobody! In this male world, honour is tied up with acting like a man and fighting to defend one’s name. Eddie and Marco both believe in the importance of their honour. We see this when Eddie demands he has his ‘name’ back. In this area, Eddie is somebody, he was known and he is respected and honoured by all but now he had lost all this and he had no identity. Faced with the wrath of his community, Eddie is desperate to reclaim his name.

We see that Eddie shows open hostility towards Rodolpho when he makes a joke about women in Italy having affairs with other men while their husbands are working in America. Both Marco and Rodolpho make clear that this does not happen very often. “Very few surprises” says Marco and Rodolpho adds, ‘It’s more strict in our town’ and this gives Eddie an opportunity to start criticising Rodolpho by taking Catherine out without his permission.

He points out that there are also strict rules in the Italian community in New York and that ‘it ain’t so free here either’.These many acts of manliness and the hostile behaviour from some characters towards others lead to aggression, which at the end, tend to increase as we find out from the result at the end of the play. The hostile behaviour used throughout he play lead to death and destruction of a happy family.

Eddie was not afraid of showing the two immigrants exactly how he felt about them and this finally lead to the defeat of him losing his social identity and of his death in the end.

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