Eddie Carbone changes as the play progresses. At first, the audience views Eddie as a hardworking man who has struggled to take care of his family. We learn that he took in his niece and raised her, an act which makes us appreciate him as a generous and moral man....
Eddie Carbone changes as the play progresses. At first, the audience views Eddie as a hardworking man who has struggled to take care of his family. We learn that he took in his niece and raised her, an act which makes us appreciate him as a generous and moral man. He seems to be willing to do anything for family; for instance, he reminds Beatrice, his wife, that he slept on the floor when her father came to stay because his house had burned down. He seems to banter with Beatrice at the beginning of the play, which begins to endear him to us. He comments on her hair and says he wants to talk to her; we consider the possibility that he is a caring and loving man.
However, once his niece Catherine enters the room, he shows his possessive side, telling her to stop wearing high heels when she's walking in the streets:
Listen, you've been givin' me the willies the way you walk down the street.
Eddie's comment makes us a little uncomfortable, but at this early point in the play, we shake off any suspicions as unfounded. We want to believe in our character. Yet, it doesn't take long for our suspicions to grow, as Eddie continues to display jealousy and possessiveness toward Catherine, especially when she begins dating Rodolpho. He even visits an attorney, Alfieri, to find out if he has any recourse to stop Catherine from seeing Rodolpho. Alfieri is quite perceptive and cautions Eddie that he has too much love for Catherine. He advises that "these things have to end, Eddie . . . and the man has to learn to forget." However, Eddie is stubborn and does not take that advice. The audience recognizes Eddie's incestuous feelings toward his niece and stops thinking of him as the hardworking hero. We root for Catherine and Rodolpho to break free from Eddie's grasp, and for Eddie to break free of his obsession and return his affections to his wife. We begin to intensely dislike Eddie as he continues to thwart the young couple's romance—for instance, he suggests that Rodolpho is gay and he tells people that Catherine is merely Rodolpho's ticket to citizenship.
The last straw for the audience comes when Eddie calls Immigration to report Marco and Rodolpho. We realize he does not care at all about anyone but himself. That call hurts everyone: Marco's family will lose the money he sends to them, Marco and Rodolpho will be sent back to Italy, and Catherine will lose her fiancé and be heartbroken. Eddie does not consider any of them; all he knows is that he's losing Catherine. While he cannot admit his feelings for her, we know those feelings are driving his actions. Eddie loses everything as a result of his phone call. People lose all respect for Eddie once they realize that he turned in the two men and destroyed his family.
His ultimate refusal to make amends at the end of the play is the proverbial nail in his coffin. Beatrice pleads with him to do the right thing, but his pride will not allow him to do so. Beatrice recognizes her husband's problem:
You want somethin' else, Eddie, and you can never have her!
We hope for Eddie to have an epiphany at this point, but he still refuses to admit his feelings or deal with them. Instead, he takes out his anger on Marco, who kills him in a fight. Eddie dies as a friendless, selfish, stubborn shell of a man.