“Oh, there were many here who were justly shot by unjust men. Justice is very important here” (2824). This quote is at the beginning of the play, during Alfieri’s opening monologue. I’m not sure what he’s getting at here. Is he being serious or sarcastic? Either way, this quote sets up the theme of justice that is seen throughout the play.
Eddie has gripes with all the characters in the play. He reprimands Beatrice several times for having “too big a heart.” Later in the play, he condescendingly demands respect from her: “A wife is supposed to believe the husband. If I tell you that guy ain’t right don’t tell me he is right” (2861). Here and several more times throughout the play, he insists that Rodolpho “ain’t right” (code for gay) and adamantly believes that he only wants to marry Catherine so he can become an American citizen. He’s obsessed with controlling Catherine’s life, telling her what to wear and who to hang out with (and who not to hang out with). He even tells her “Most people ain’t people…the less you trust, the less you be sorry” (2830), as if he doesn’t want her to trust anyone except for him. His feelings for Catherine are different than one would expect from an uncle/father figure. He seems to have a sexual desire for her, even though he’s been raising her since she was little. Eww. (Also – aren’t Catherine and Rodolpho related? Wouldn’t that also be incest? But I digress). Anyway, Eddie can point out the flaws in everyone else, but doesn’t really consider his own flaws. His incestuous desire for his niece, for one. Also, by the end of the play, he becomes the person he criticized at the beginning of the play. He tells Beatrice and Catherine about the guy who called Immigration on the people living in his house, and makes them swear not to tell anyone. He even says to Catherine, “You can quicker get back a million dollars that was stole than a word that you gave away” (2831). But at the end of the play, he snitches on Marco and Rodolpho, tarnishing his own reptutation. Hypocritical? Desperate? Mentally unstable? All of the above?
Another interesting aspect of the play is the role of women/wives. Eddie and Beatrice are waiting for Catherine and Rodolpho to get back from their show. Beatrice can tell that Rodolpho’s presence in their house is causing a sort of downward spiral in Eddie. But she has noticed a change in him since even before Rodolpho arrived (three months, she says). She asks him “When am I gonna be a wife again?” (2839).I took this to imply that they haven’t been having sex, as if having sex is her duty as a wife. At another point in the play, Catherine also comments on this. She says to Rodolpho “Then why don’t [Beatrice] be a woman? If I was a wife I would make a man happy instead of goin’ at him all the time” (2856). So according to Catherine, the duty of a wife is also to make her husband happy. Which is a good thing, as long as it is reciprocal and the husband and wife are on equal footing.But unfortunately that’s not always the case, especially in 1950s marriages.
Like in Of Mice and Men, the American Dream is featured in this play. Rodolpho and Marco come to America hoping to achieve this elusive dream. In Rodolpho’s case, he wants to remain in America and become a citizen. In Marco’s case, he just wants to work long enough to make money for his family in Italy, and then return to that family. In both cases, the American Dream relates to working. But it does not seem to be as unobtainable as in Of Mice and Men. At the end of the play, it appears as though Catherine and Rodolpho are going to go through with their marriage. Presumably, he will become an American citizen and continue working there, maybe as a singer. (Speaking of which, here’s a link to the song he sings in the play). Is this the American Dream that he wants to achieve? Or is there more to it?