Marco is an Italian immigrant that moved illegally to the United States with his brother Rodolpho to work as longshoremen, since the time Italy, was going through a major economic depression. In the play, we are told that Marco’s plan is to make enough money to survive and be able to send to his wife and children in Italy, who are starving. He comes across as a very caring and respectful young man. Marco’s character is definitely expressed more by his actions than by his words. As the play progresses his actions, lead us to discover a violent side, which he uses to defend his honor on many occasions.
Family means a lot to Marco, and just like Eddie he will always try to get justice if someone does something against them. He believes strongly in the old Sicilian code, of revenge. When he is told that he must return home, he cannot believe that although Eddie committed the worst crime under his unwritten law, he cannot be punished under American Law. He says, “In my country he would be dead now. He would not live this long. ” This shows quite how important Marco considers Eddie’s actions to be.
He just cannot comprehend how the American Law is written in a book and if this law is obeyed, nobody is punished. When Alfieri tells him this, he becomes even angrier than before, saying, “He degraded my brother. My blood. He robbed my children, he mocks my work… There is no law for that? Where is the law for that? ” This is when he decides to seek full revenge on Eddie. He knows he must go home anyway and if he does not avenge Eddie, he will not be punished and there will be no justice, which is what Marco is so desperate for.
Despite Alfieri making him promise not to touch Eddie, he is determined to make him apologize or to make him pay for his crime. However, although I think that Marco is very determined to get revenge, I do not think that he would go as far as kill to get it. It is symbolic how, it is in fact Eddie who appears holding the knife, as it reflects the fact that Eddie brought his fate upon himself. I do not think that Marco would go as far as killing Eddie, because up until the end of Act 1 he comes across as a passive character.
It is not until the last scene of Act 1, when he challenges Eddie to lift the chair that any sort of violence appears in his character. This is the moment where Marco’s anger at Eddie’s unfair treatment of his innocent brother becomes too much for him to ignore any more. He is very loyal to Rodolfo, by challenging Eddie to lift the chair, plays him at his own game, and wins. As he lifts the chair above his head, he is warning Eddie that if he hurts Rodolfo he will have Marco, who is stronger than him, against him too.
He demonstrates that he has strength and will use it if Eddie threatens Rodolfo. He does not use words to express his feelings, because he does not want to offend Eddie’s hospitality. This is the turning point of both the relationship and the whole play because it is where Marco becomes a threat to Eddie and he realizes that there is more to Marco than he thought. Before the boxing scene, Marco is naturally very grateful to Eddie for breaking the law and risking himself for him and treats him with the utmost respect.
Despite the fact that in Sicily he is the head of his household, he knows that here in Eddie’s house, Eddie is the man with authority and he recognizes this immediately. He says to Eddie: “When you say go, we will go. ” as almost his first words after arriving and when Eddie wants Rodolfo to stop singing, he automatically orders his brother to be quiet. He feels very responsible for Rodolfo (this is clear from the stage directions which say ‘Marco raises a hand to hush Rodolfo’ when he starts to say something Marco does not want him to say)
As well as the similarity in Marco and Eddie’s positions in their families and hardworking natures, they have many similarities in personality which at first they may respect in one another but eventually play a part in the tragic ending to the play. Marco is very introverted and speaks only when he is spoken to and although Eddie is outgoing, like Marco he does not like to discuss his thoughts and feelings. For example, Eddie does not tell anyone about his love for Catherine. When Marco is angered by Eddie’s treatment of his brother, the audience has no idea because he says nothing about it.
Even when he finally lets his built up anger out, it is in actions rather than words. Like Eddie he sees everything in black and white – something is good or bad, acceptable or unacceptable with nothing in between. When Eddie reports the brothers to the immigration officers. Marco knows immediately that it was Eddie who has betrayed his family, and repays the worst crime under Sicilian moral law with the most degrading action – spitting in his face. He then calls on the community to turn against Eddie, shouting, “That one! He killed my children.
That one stole the food from my children! ” In this community, justice for a crime is very important, especially for men such as Eddie and Marco who value their respect and family above everything else. Marco feels as though he has been completely betrayed by Eddie and must now return home to Sicily without the money to feed his starving children. Therefore, Eddie must be repaid. After Marco spits in Eddie’s face, he insists that Marco apologizes and takes back his public denouncement of him. He has lost his name – his pride, honor and respect in the community.
As Catherine says, “Nobody is gonna talk to him again if he lives to a hundred. ” He believes that Marco took the name and when he says he will kill him, he is not just threatening but is willing to kill Marco, a member of his family, for his name. There is great conflict between community and American law in the play. The community abides by Sicilian-American customs protects illegal immigrants within their homes, values respect and family, is hard working and know the shipping culture, has strong associations with names, believes in trust and wants revenge when a member has been wronged.
Some of these values, however, come in conflict with those of the American system of justice. Eddie Carbone chooses to turn against his community and abide by the state laws. He looses the respect of his community and friends-the name and personal identity he treasures. Eddie Carbone, with a stronger allegiance to the community, reverts back to another custom of Sicilian-Americans: revenge. Not only is Eddie pulled back to the values of his community, but the final victor of the play is symbolic of community values-the Italian, Marco. Thus, the small community is stronger than American law.