Manliness, hostility and aggression play an important role in the play, A View from the Bridge. Each character has a different view on what it means to be manly and what manliness is. Eddie, the main character around which the play revolves, has a very specific view on what manliness exactly is. When other characters views clash with his own ideas, he reacts, violently in most cases. Another character, Marco demonstrates masculine characteristics and makes Eddie feel threatened, these connect the ideas of manliness, hostility and aggression. We see many sides of Eddies character throughout the play.
Eddie has a certain type of belief that you have to be a particular way and do particular things in order to be a real man, he believes that certain types of characteristics and qualities are needed to be manly. He has lived by these qualities¦and believes they are right. This is possibly due to the way he is raised. There are many views that Eddie thinks you need for masculinity, one of these being that you should go out of your way to provide for your family, that you should provide what your family needs and what your family wants. He believes that you should put familys needs before your own. He lives up to these beliefs because he has worked as hard as he could many times, gone through starvation just so he could feed Catherine and Beatrice. Eddie says:
I took out of my own mouth to give to her¦ ¦I walked hungry plenty days in the city! Eddie also has strong views about the way that Catherine behaves. He shows this by criticizing the way she dresses and the way she behaves when he says: Youre walking wavy. And: Youre still a baby. This leads to conflict on a small scale. He feels like she is still his little girl and he is unhappy that she is growing up so quickly. He is also unhappy with the job because of the neighbourhood it is in and thinks she should stay in school longer:
Near the Navy Yard plenty can happen in a block and a half¦ I think he disapproves of this not because of the neighbourhood, or the fact she should still be at school, but because he thinks Catherine is a baby and that he should look after her. He refuses to see that she is perfectly capable of looking after herself. Eddie tries to keep his status as the man in his household. He is very hostile towards Rodolpho because he thinks he is homosexual. Marco knows Eddie feels this way about a member of his family. This creates aggression from Marco throughout the play and results in a number of conflicts between himself and Eddie in which Marco demonstrates his masculinity over Eddie; this makes Eddie feel threatened and insecure.
He also considers the following things manly, strength: Come on kid, put sumpm behind it, you cant hurt me, Authority: Just get outta here and dont lay a finger on her unless you wanna go out feet first. He also thinks protection is manly: This guy aint right Beatrice. However his avoidance of his personal feelings also fall into Eddies version of masculinity: I dont know, B. I dont want talk about it.
Radolpho, the younger of the two cousins, does not live up to Eddies views of masculinity, and due to Radolpho not being able to conform to these views Eddie seems to blank out Radolpho to begin with. We notice this in the early stages of the cousins arrival in the play. Eddie seems to only be talking to Marco when talking about both cousins. I can see this in the stage directions in the book: Eddie he is coming more and more to address Marco only. We then go on to see that Eddies ignorance towards Radolpho soon turns in to hatred as Catherine and Radolpho take a liking to each other. Eddie doesnt like this because he can not accept the fact that Catherine growing up from a little girl in to a young woman and is starting to attract the attention of other men.
Eddie feels that Rodolfo does not conform to his idea of masculinity because of the way he cooks, cleans, sings and makes dresses. Which at the time of the play would not be considered to be things done by a man. And towards the end of Act 1 he kind of jokes about it in front of Catherine, Radolpho, Marco and Beatrice, kind of hinting it to everyone in a way: I mean like me I cant cook, I cant sing, I cant make dresses, so Im on the water front. But if I could cook, if I could cook, if I could make dresses, I wouldnt be out on the water front¦ ¦I would be someplace else. I would be like in a dress store. To also prove that he is gay Eddie kisses Radolpho in front of Catherine to see if will react the way Eddie hopes he will react: Eddie pins his arms, laughing, and suddenly kisses him¦ ¦each waiting for the others mood.