Comparisons between Marco and Rodolfo in ‘A View From the Bridge’ Essay
In the play A View from the Bridge, Arthur Miller portrays Marco and Rodolfo both similarly and differently as they adopt significant roles in furthering the plot development and bringing forward Miller’s ideas on masculinity, violence, Sicilian values and justice. While Marco and Rodolfo have both illegally come to America for work, their personalities, their strengths and their sense of justice differ. Meanwhile, Marco acts as the antagonist and Rodolfo’s presence gives rise to the conflict.
Upon the cousins’ arrival, Miller makes it clear that Marco and Rodolfo are both illegal immigrants who have surreptitiously travelled to USA for work. Rodolfo asks Eddie “How much can a man make? We work hard, we work all day, all night – “. Rodolfo demonstrates that he is eager to work and gives the reader the impression that he hopes to live the American dream by emphasizing that he is willing to “work hard”. As America is prospering in the age of affluence, many immigrants including Rodolfo and Marco believe that as long as one works hard, one will be rewarded with good pay. Marco tells Beatrice “I could send [my family] a little more if I stay here.” Marco’s wish to stay temporarily in the Carbone household is connected with money, which indicates that he, like Rodolfo, is concerned about employment and pecuniary issues.
Although they are brothers, Marco and Rodolfo have different characteristics. Marco is a silent man who exemplifies the typical Sicilian man who takes silence as a virtue. He does not speak much, and instead prefers to express his feelings through action. In gratitude to Eddie’s hospitality, Marco reacts with “near tears) Eduardo”. The audience notices that Marco cries to show his emotion, which is considered masculine. On the contrary, Rodolfo is a reconstructed man whose personality strays from Sicilian values.
Having only arrived in the country, Rodolfo already asks Catherine “I sing jazz, Napoleon, bel canto, I sing Paper Doll, you like Paper Doll?” This reveals Rodolfo’s exuberant and good-natured character. Unlike Marco, he is very gregarious and enjoys receiving attention. He is a natural performer and uses the lyrics in Paper Doll to convey his feelings for Catherine as he sings “Those flirty, flirty guys, with their flirty, flirty eyes”. While the audience finds Rodolfo endearing, Eddie regards him as a homosexual because traditional Sicilian men certainly do not flirt. Eddie is disturbed and feels that Rodolfo lacks masculinity, but perhaps this is merely Eddie’s excuse for his adamant dislike of Rodolfo because he is jealous of Catherine’s attraction to him, thus leading to his manifestations of hostility.
Eddie grows more aggressive and proves that he is stronger than Rodolfo, but Marco demonstrates that he is even stronger than Eddie. As Eddie pretends to teach Rodolfo how to box, “he feints with his right hand and lands with his left. It mildly staggers Rodolfo.” Eddie delivers this punch to suggest that he is able to beat Rodolfo if he so wished and endeavors to expose Rodolfo’s is so weak that he cannot even fend for himself. Angered, Marco challenges Eddie to a trial of strength in the chair-lifting contest.
Eddie fails to lift the chair, but Marco lifts it until he is “face to face with Eddie, a strained tension gripping his eyes and jaw, his neck stiff, the chair raised like a weapon over Eddie’s head and he transforms what might appear like a glare of warning into a smile of triumph.” Not only is Marco physically stronger than Rodolfo and Eddie, his “smile of triumph” powerfully indicates that his clarity of vision and strength of purpose also surpass both of them.
After reading that Eddie was the one who betrayed them, Marco and Rodolfo react differently. Rodolfo acts as a mediator to prevent bloodshed as he endeavors to subdue Eddie’s infuriation by confronting Eddie and saying, “I kiss your hand” in apology, although he has not done anything wrong. Rodolfo does not adhere to the Sicilian code of justice as he seeks to compromise instead of to cast blame. On the other hand, Marco shouts at Eddie vehemently in public as he is arrested. He shouts, pointing belligerently at Eddie, “That one! I accuse that one! That one stole the food from my children!” Marco’s accusations before the entire community illustrate his burning desire to seek vengeance because he believes Eddie has violated the Sicilian code of justice and thus Marco will take justice in his own hands by killing Eddie.
Miller aptly portrays Marco and Rodolfo both similarly and differently, whilst giving them separate roles – Marco is the Sicilian angel of justice while Rodolfo is the catalyst for the conflict and later becomes a mediator. Meanwhile, Miller brings the ideas of masculinity, Sicilian values, justice and violence to light.