Written by one of the most infamous playwrights of the 20th Century, Arthur Miller is a respected, intelligent and thought provoking man. This play is just an example of how someones life can be instantly changed simply by the arrival of another human being. From a caring, loving, protective uncle, the character of Eddie Carbone morphs into a monster of incestuous lust and violent anger.
When we are first introduced to the characters of Eddie and Catherine, we are shown how intimate and secure their relationship seems on the surface. Although Catherine acts like a child, pretending that she has no idea about how the world around her works, Eddie knows that she is so much more than that, with a higher level of intelligence and a much brighter future. However, even though Eddie has a strong plutonic bond with his niece, he finds it difficult to show her how he feels.
When he first speaks to her, saying, Where you goin all dressed up? he means for it to be advice, suggesting that she is dressed inappropriately and should consider wearing something else. However, it comes out more like a scalding, questioning her actions and the choices that she has made. From the beginning of the play, Catherine is strongly irritated by the way Eddie speaks to her, no matter how well he means. At this stage in the play, this irritability is irrelevant because the love between these two characters is too powerful for anything to break.
During the current stages of their lives, their relationship is presently very strong and reliable. They both trust each other boundlessly and share a love that only they can feel. However, as the events in the storyline develop, so too does the stress between them which has been built up over the years. Because of the stress that is put forward to each of them, the characters soon begin to anger one another causing their seemingly unbreakable relationship to break.
In the latter part of the first scene that Eddie and Catherine are in together, an argument develops about the choice of clothes that Catherine is wearing (a short skirt to be precise). Eddie claims that she has been walking wavy whilst going down the street. Again, even though he is trying to look out for her and offer her the best advice he can for her own good, the manner by which he speaks it is insulting, and this therefore causes Catherines confidence and self-assurance to shatter. This is only the beginning of the dramatic events that are going to happen.
During the scene that features the introduction of Marco and Rodolfo to the Carbone family, Eddie feels a further need to embarrass Catherine even more than what he has done previously. As she walks into the room wearing her high-heeled shoes, Eddie comments on them: Whats with the high heels, Garbo? and later Do me a favour, will you? Go ahead. Catherines attempts at trying to defend herself are faltered because she is so powerless when Eddie tells her what to do.
This shows us that Eddie doesnt want other males looking at Catherine in a sexually attractive fashion, and this is also the first telltale sign of Eddies incestuous feelings towards his niece due to his blatant portrayal of jealousy. Even though Catherine is enraged by his comments and extremely embarrassed, she somehow manages to find it in her heart to forgive him. This proves the strength of their relationship at the moment, showing that it takes a lot more than that for their relationship to be destroyed. This emphasises the fact that Eddie and Catherine have a mutual, almost telepathic, understanding of each other.
When we see Alfieri on stage after this scene, he discusses the issues that have yet to pass between the family, suggesting that Eddie has an inevitably tragic destiny, which comes as a result of his perverted feelings towards Catherine. Much later in the play, during the scene where Catherine and Rodolfo are coming home from the cinema, we see a side to Eddie that further emphasises his twisted, incestuous feelings towards his innocent niece. The manner in which he speaks to them pronounces his jealously of Rodolfo more than anything previously said in the play. Rodolfo. Go inside, will you? Eddie uses these words as a desperate attempt at trying to get Catherine by herself, and when I doesnt work the first time, he starts to mildly insult Rodolfo, by saying such things as (smiling unwillingly) Fountains? (Rodolfo smiles at his own na¯¿½vet¯¿½) and tries to mock him and his origin. Once Eddie finally manages to be alone with Catherine, his real feelings towards her start to unmeaningly surface.
When hearing her say the she likes Rodolfo, his mood turns from bad to worse. Currently, it seems that as Catherine and Rodolfos relationship develops, so too does her relationship with Eddie deteriorate. Eddie tries to use everything he has to change Catherines opinion on Rodolfo, such as he has no respect for him despite everything he has helped him with, and saying that he dont bless me. Eddie uses the fact that Rodolfo doesnt bless him in the false hope that it might make Catherine think about whether he blesses her, however nothing Eddie could say at this point would make her think differently. Eventually, he starts to make up lies about how Rodolfo reacts, by saying such things as He dont respect you, and He knows I mind, but it dont bother him. But sadly, deep down Eddie knows that nothing he says will change Catherines feelings, towards himself or for Rodolfo.
At this point in the play, we can see the first signs of Catherines independent feelings blossoming and how the fear and control that Eddie once had over her falling apart. She is able to stand up to Eddie and promote her feelings, no matter what he thinks about them or tries to do to change them. She even has enough confidence built up inside of her to ask Eddie Why? when it comes to explaining why he doesnt like Rodolfo. Before we even reach the second act in the play, we have seen Catherine develop from an innocent little girl that followed orders from her uncle, to a now independent young woman who wants answers from that once domineering uncle.