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English Literature


When the play begins, we see the Carbone family - part of a poor Italian community in Brooklyn - excited about the imminent arrival of Beatrice's cousins from Italy. Yet the arrival of Marco and Rodolpho fires up tensions that have been smouldering under the surface of the family for a while, and the result is tragic.

Eddie Carbone

  • Eddie is 40 years old, an American of Sicilian decent. He is described as "a husky, slightly overweight longshoreman."
  • He is an ordinary man, part of the local Italian community.
  • He is master of the house - both Beatrice and Catherine are obviously used to him laying down the rules. He sees this as a 'manly' thing to do and he expects all men to do the same - which is why he cannot accept Rodolpho's more gentle talents.
  • He is generous enough to offer a home to Beatrice's cousins, but at the same time slightly wary and self-protective or selfish - he reminds Beatrice not to let them sleep in his bed. (Perhaps this prepares us for the way he deals with his love for Catherine: is he selfish then too?)
  • He doesn't trust people easily. He tells Catherine, "the less you trust, the less you be sorry." (This prepares us for his suspicion of Rodolpho.)
  • He is concerned about his honour and protecting his good name. He ends the tale of the informer Vinny Bolzano, "a guy do a thing like that? How's he gonna show his face?"
  • He is very protective of Catherine, whom he has brought up as if she were his own daughter. He paid for her typing lessons and had ambitions for her to rise to a different class. He is proud of her looks, yet concerned that she will attract the attention of men and is concerned about her new job. He finds it hard to admit that she has become a woman. "I guess I just never figured... that you would ever grow up."
  • However, it soon becomes apparent that Eddie is in love with Catherine. He has not made love to his wife for three months. He quickly becomes jealous of Rodolpho because of the immediate impression Rodolpho makes on Catherine. The stage directions [stage directions: Instructions written into the script of a drama to guide the performers' actions. ] tell us, "He looks at [Catherine] like a lost boy" when she tells him she loves Rodolpho. He is unable to admit this shameful emotion to himself and is angry when Beatrice and Alfieri dare to mention it.
  • As his feelings for Catherine become more obsessive, he does everything he can to prevent Rodolpho from marrying her. He tries to undermine Rodolpho. For example:
    • He mocks Rodolpho's skills at cooking, singing and sewing, claims he is homosexual and tells Catherine that he only wants her to gain US citizenship.
    • He tries to get the law involved and is amazed when Alfieri says that nothing can be done.
    • He tries violence: he 'teaches' Rodolpho to box as an excuse to hit him, then fights with Rodolpho when he knows Rodolpho has slept with Catherine.
    • He calls the Immigration Bureau is a last desperate attempt to stop the wedding: he cares so much for Catherine that he is prepared to break his code of honour.
  • In the end, he loses everything: Catherine, his wife, his name. He has no option but to fight Marco to the death (he has the knife). Ironically, his death restores some of his lost honour because he does not try to escape his fate.
  • The conflict that ends his life recalls other conflict we have seen:
    • Verbal conflict with all the other characters at some point or another. Even his jokes are barbed and bitter.
    • Physical conflict with Rodolpho.
    • Conflict within himself as he grapples with his love of Catherine.

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