He is loving to his wife and protective of his niece. But as the play continues you start to see the real Eddie Carbone unfold. The audiences first impression of Eddie Carbone is a very honourable person who has pride in his niece. He is quite concerned about her sexuality, for example he says to her your walkin wavy and heads are turning like windmills. He is concerned because he wants to protect Catherine and feels that she is sexually vulnerable. Eddie also demonstrates concern for his wife. He says that she has too big a heart.
The audience would be quite impressed with his sense of responsibility. Moreover Eddie seems very keen to help the fellow Italians on their arrival. He insists that they behave very discreetly for example when he is describing to Catherine and Beatrice the dangers of holding illegal immigrants he says You dont know nothing! They got stool pigeons all over this neighbourhood. By saying this, the audience would probably think he is very loyal. However, Eddie can be seen to reveal a frailty in his character very early on. He clearly shows some paranoia and over-protectiveness for his niece.
You can tell this when he complains to her why didnt you ask me before you got a job. Eddie is asking for too much control over Catherine. Like a tragic hero, he is honourable but there is something unsettling about his character. Also his reaction after Catherine lights his cigar could interpret this over-protectiveness he shows for her could in fact be a disturbing feature in his character. We can see character and weaknesses unfolding at the end of Act One. Eddie Carbones character at the end of Act One becomes more open about his hatred for Rodolpho.
He demonstrates his lack of control over his emotions, also starts to act sarcastically and mockingly for example, he says I know lemons are green for Christs sake. Arguing with Rodolpho and resenting his comments shows his desire to provoke conflict. He also mocks Rodolpho about his femininity. He announces to everyone if I could sing, I wouldnt be on the water front, I would be in a dress store. He is trying to make Catherine think twice about Rodolphos sexuality. In doing so, he is also asserting his own masculinity in an attempt to warn off others and impress Catherine.
In this scene Eddie is beginning to feel quite powerless in his own house since Marco and Rodolphos arrival. He has lost control over Catherine, which considering his obsessive protectiveness he cannot bear. The last scene of Act One Miller also establishes a very dramatic atmosphere. Because of Eddies increasingly frenzied personality it makes the other characters wary of him, for example he keeps on repeating himself which could be a sign of madness his psychological breakdown. It unsettles and alarms the other characters. We have a constant sense that he is volatile and unpredictable.
Furthermore, when Marco raises the chair like a weapon above his head Miller symbolises Eddies loss of power and control. It is clear that another man has entered his house and beaten him at his own game. At the start of Act Two you can clearly see how Miller has chosen to develop Eddies flaws. He portrays Eddies hatred for Rodolpho as he says to Catherine that she cannot leave the apartment with that indicating Rodolpho. Referring to Rodolpho as that implies that he thinks he is superior to Rodolpho just because hes an illegal Immigrant. Furthermore, the use of the word that suggests he is only a detestable object.
Eddie also says watch your step submarine. By rights they oughta throw you back in the water. This is a direct threat towards Rodolpho that he might inform the Immigration Bureau of his illegal entry into the country. It is also an assertion of his power over Rodolpho. Eddies attempts to humiliate Rodolpho fail thoroughly when he kisses him. Eddie pins his arms laughing and suddenly kisses him. Eddie thinks by emasculating Rodolpho, Catherine can see what Eddie is seeing, but all shes can see is that Eddie has lost control of himself under the influence of alcohol and pitiful repressed feelings.
His actions in this scene suggest he is far from the respectable individual he was at the start. Moreover, he becomes quite pathetic in the eyes of the audience. However we interpretate the kiss, whether he is demonstrating repressed homosexuality, insecure masculinity or just immaturity and drunkenness, the audience think less of him. Moreover, the other characters must be really shocked by Eddies ghastly behaviour. He sits, still panting for breath, and they watch him helplessly. This suggests that they are confused and worried by his outburst.
At this moment in time the sympathy from the audience for Eddie would have been washed away since the start of the play. Now the audience would be more sympathetic for Catherine because it looks as if shes being imprisoned and controlled. You can tell this when she says to Rodolpho suppose I wanted to live in Italy. She is trying to get as far as possible from Eddie. The stage direction as she strives to free herself is symbol of her of her imprisonment. The start of Act One is also the first time the audience realise that Eddies obsession for Catherine is actually sexual.
You can tell this when Eddie comes home drunk he sees Catherine come out of the bedroom adjusting her skirt and then Rodolpho walks out behind her. As soon as Eddie realises what they were doing he slightly jerks his arms, it shows what he now understands is unbearable to him. In conclusion, Arthur Miller could have developed Eddies character for a didactic purpose. Most Greek tragedies have a didactic purpose to show the audience to never reveal our deepest desires and to maintain our composure. You can tell that Eddie could be a didactic figure because in Alfieris last speech he states most of the time now we settle for half.
He could be saying that Eddie was asking for too much from Catherine, but Alfieri could mean that we shouldnt ask for too much when we cant be satisfied so we should just settle for half. However, in Greek tragedies the tragic hero commits an offence and is supposed to learn from his mistake but still suffers from it, therefore moral order is restored. In the last scene this was very strongly portrayed, as it was his own knife, in his own hands that was plunged into his chest. This shows that all the things he done wrong was of his own doing.