Once Marco and Rodolpho are in the house and settled down they start to introduce themselves a bit more fully to the family. Marco acts as a father figure to Rodolpho, comes across as down to earth which contrasts with Rodolpho who just “Dreams”, and has no sense of proportion. Rodolpho is very loud and forward, “I have a nice face, but no money.” The first sign of trouble arises not long into the cousins’ arrival when Rodolpho starts to sing “Paper Doll.” Eddie does not give positive reactions from this.
Miller uses visual tension with Eddie rolling up a newspaper and showing an explicit look to show the friction in the house Once the cousins have been there for a while Eddie tells Beatrice that he “ain’t been feelin’ good.” This shows tension between the couple. Eddie admits to Beatrice “They bother me since they came.” this increases the dramatic tension; is Eddie anticipating that something bad is going to happen? Friction is suggested when Eddie says he “Can’t talk about it”
Eddie is not giving Beatrice enough attention and their relationship is on a rocky stage, which is affecting their emotional and sexual relationship. Beatrice is becoming worried about this problem and asks Eddie “When am I gonna be a wife again?” This is a euphemism and shows the break down in verbal communication between the married couple. Beatrice wants Eddie to confront his problem because of the trouble he is having with expressing his emotions. The failure of communication within the marriage is affecting the physical relationship. Beatrice is feeling ignored and craves the attention of her husband even though he is neglecting her and putting her in the background of his life. On the video the tension between Eddie and Beatrice is very clear as when Eddie is talking about sex he cannot look his wife in the eye and share his feelings.
The relationship between the family is showing Beatrice to have developed some jealousy towards Catherine as Catherine is getting more attention from Eddie than she is. The relationships have become implicit and have now more reason to question the developing relationship between Eddie and Catherine to be more than just a father daughter relationship. This developing relationship becomes more apparent near the end of act one when Eddie is on his way home from work and he bumps into Catherine and Rodolpho who seem to be getting on well. Eddie becomes upset at the fact that maybe Rodolpho has won over the affection of Catherine and Eddie has been unsuccessful. Once Eddie and Catherine are alone, Eddie tries to tell Catherine that Rodolpho is using her for an American passport. The audience now question the reality of what Eddie has told Catherine but at the same time we are asking if Eddie is only saying this in hope that Catherine will believe this and dump Rodolpho.
The stage directions add to the dramatic tension, as Catherine is ‘smiling but tense’. It is as if you can feel the friction in the air. We sympathise with Catherine as she only wants to grow up and Eddie is holding her back and still treating her like a child. Eddie is doing this because he is scared at the fact that Rodolpho is taking his “Baby” away. But is this fair to Catherine and also to Beatrice? There is a lot of jealousy developing in the relationships; Eddie is jealous of Rodolpho because of the feelings Catherine has for him and Beatrice is jealous of Catherine because she gets more attention paid to her than Beatrice but she will not admit it, Beatrice asks Catherine, “You think I’m jealous of you honey?”
I think when reading the script you can see Beatrice’s plan of getting Catherine out the house. If Catherine marries Rodolpho, the two of them will be out the house and she will be able to have her husband back. Beatrice asks Catherine, “You wanna get married, or don’t you wanna get married!” she tries to make out to her that Eddie will not like Rodolpho but she should have realised by now that “If it was a prince came here for you it would be no different” implying that no man will ever be right for her in his eyes. Beatrice tells Catherine that she should become more “independent” and “if you act like a baby and he be treatin’ you like a baby.” These are Beatrice’s hints to make her realise the fact that she is not a child and should not be constantly relying on Eddie.
Eddie goes to see Alfieri and from the meeting they have Miller presents Eddie to be irrational and confused. We pity Eddie and feel sympathetic as we can foresee tragedy, as it is inevitable. While Eddie is speaking to Alfieri, Eddie makes Rodolpho out to be effeminate as he can sing and sew. Later that evening when Eddie arrives home there is still friction between Eddie and Rodolpho. Catherine resumes annoyed with Eddie so she torments Eddie by playing paper doll on the phonograph and then asks Rodolpho to dance, knowing that this will torment Eddie by seeing the pair together. Rodolpho recognises the tension and tells Catherine that he is too tired to dance, of trying to calm the situation. Beatrice makes Rodolpho get up and dance but Rodolpho can feel “Eddie’s eyes on his back.” While dancing with Rodolpho, Catherine is flaunting her independence and both Catherine and Beatrice are revolting Eddie. Marco and Rodolpho are deferential and recognise the tension and friction that is in the house.
Eddie is still trying to show Rodolpho up and prove to Catherine that Rodolpho is effeminate by having a Masculinity contest of boxing. In the Sicilian community the men are always seen to be big, strong, and able to look after and protect the women. By Eddie hitting Rodolpho he tries to show Rodolpho up and make him look weak. Rodolpho gets his own back by asking Catherine to dance. He becomes provocative once he realises Eddies plan. Eddie humiliated Rodolpho by showing to Catherine he’s more masculine and then Rodolpho shows Eddie that he can hit him in the stomach but he is the winner overall because he can still get Catherine.
The ending of Act one is poignant and creates more visual and dramatic tension than verbal tension, which has been more common so far in the book. Marco shows Eddie that he will stand up for Rodolpho and uses a “chair like a weapon” and as a silent threat that has more meaning than words. The visual tension lets the audience see and feel the tension. Before now Eddie has felt in charge but Marco has turned things around after the chair-lifting test, ‘Eddie’s grin vanishes as he absorbs his look.’ This is dramatically effective in both the script and in the video as the audience can almost feel the tension in the living room.
Act one finishes and act two starts. Act two brings about development in the characters relationships. The development is mainly the disintegration of the relationships, but also new relationships are developing. When Catherine and Rodolpho are alone in the house for the first time we see Catherine actually share her emotions and express what she has been feeling. Now we see the closeness of their relationship as Rodolpho now calls Catherine “my little girl.” This indicates that Rodolpho has taken Eddie’s “Baby” and so when he comes home after a heavy drinking session and realises the pair are together, he orders Rodolpho to “Pack it up” and move out.
Catherine wants to move out with him but Eddie will not let her go. Eddie kisses Catherine when she announces she is leaving, “As she strives to free herself he kisses her on the mouth.” This is wrong and immoral; Eddie is shaming her. But then we see Rodolpho stand up for Catherine. “Suddenly” Eddie kisses Rodolpho. This is a dramatic change in relationship. At the start of this scene Catherine loves Eddie in a father daughter way, then, by the end of the scene ‘she is staring at him in horror’ and says, “I’ll kill you.”
This is a very emotional scene whereby we see two relationships dramatically change; Catherine and Rodolpho want to get married and have stood up to Eddie, and Catherine has change her feelings towards Eddie and is now ‘frightened’ by him. This scene makes us question the characters, as we are shocked and embarrassed. With this scene the books drama is more effective as we are able to read what is going on in the house with Rodolpho and Catherine, yet at the same time we can read the stage directions and see that Eddie is staggering along the side walk outside the house after a heavy drinking session. With the play we only see one picture at a time and it doesn’t feel very realistic as you don’t see the two scenes going on a t the same time.