I read this for The Dead Writers Society literary birthday for October 2016. I have wanted to read Arthur Miller's plays for a while, so hope to move onto "Death of a Salesman" next.
I don't know where to even begin with this one. I read it in one gulp and held my breath towards the end worrying about what would happen. From beginning to end, this play takes you on a wild ride.
Taking place in Brooklyn, we have our narrator Alferie who is a lawyer who is telling the story of longshoreman Eddie Carbone. Eddie lives with his wife Beatrice and her niece Catherine. We find out that Eddie and Beatrice have raised Catherine since she was a child, but lately something is off anytime Catherine tries to assert her independence. We start to see inklings of what is going on with what is said and not said by Beatrice. And then things come to a head for the three unit family when Beatrice's Italian relatives (Rodolpho and Marco) come to stay with them looking for work in the U.S.
Eddie at first seems like a very benign guy. He wants to keep his little family safe from harm. But you start to slowly realize what he is really afraid of (losing Catherine) and he starts to become more and more unhinged as the story goes on. After an act of betrayal, Eddie might as well as walked around with a sign saying "Doomed" on it. I loved the nuances with this character a lot. I don't think that even he wanted to admit what he really wanted and why Catherine leaving and maybe marrying was bothering him so much.
Beatrice was definitely smart. But I think that sadly she was angry at the wrong person at times (Catherine). There was definitely a little bit of if you stopped doing what you are doing, Eddie would be able to get himself under more control. There was definite blaming going on there. Frankly at one point I was waiting for Beatrice to just throw Eddie out. But she is in love with him and does choose him in the end (when she refuses to go with Catherine to watch her marry when Eddie tells her he won't let her return home if she does).
Catherine is on the border of childhood/womanhood. You can see she wants to please Eddie and Beatrice, but she starts to realize what is going on with Eddie and why she really needs to leave home. I do think that Eddie was correct though that Rodolpho doesn't really love Catherine and marrying the first guy who you actually are allowed to hang out with is not that smart of a thing to do. It seemed like Catherine and Beatrice wanted to keep pushing things in Eddie's face thinking that would make him just get over things.
Rodolpho felt sly to me. I don't know if that is what Miller meant to show, but he is definitely not someone I got a good handle on while reading. I do think that Eddie's predictions of the couple will hold true if they do marry. He doesn't seem to love Catherine, she's just there and is female.
Marco I see-sawed about a lot while reading. He definitely realizes what is going on. But he blames Eddie and doesn't seem to care that his actions will ultimately cause his wife and children more pain than anything that Eddie did.
I really liked the writing and the flow of this play from beginning to end. Miller wrote very good stage directions and I could picture everything in my head (take note Harry Potter and the Cursed Child). The play made me gasp a few times just based on dialogue and actions (Eddie kisses Rodolpho to prove to him and Catherine that he is gay and not really interested in Catherine) and to think this play was written in 1955 and staged in 1956 just floors me. Miller's writing, characters, everything is just so good.
The ending was definitely tragic, but you can see there was no other ending that would have worked for the play. Eddie's destiny was going to be tragic once he refused to let go of Catherine. I felt like if this was a Poirot novel, Miller would have had Eddie poison Rodolpho or Catherine both so that way he could still "win."