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In page 33 of the play "A View from the Bridge" by Arthur Miller, Eddie describes Rodolfo saying he:

looked so sweet there, like an angel – you could kiss him he was so sweet

and

Paper Doll they call him. Blondie now.

What does the language of each of these suggestions imply?

  • 2
    Welcome to Literature! What exactly do you mean by "the language of these suggestions" - are you asking about the choice of words, or something else? – Rand al'Thor May 2 '17 at 23:45
  • @Randal'Thor think "what is the meaning of these descriptions". Great question Valeria Aguayo, welcome to the site! – user111 May 3 '17 at 0:38
10
+100

Not only does it cast doubt on Rodolpho's masculinity, the context in which this quote comes from suggests a lot more of Eddie and his attitude towards Rodolpho. While I quite agree with the word choices Matt highlighted, and his description of those words, some of the implications given are a little restrictive.

looked so sweet there, like an angel – you could kiss him he was so sweet

Just read this line (as well as the entire passage of where it came from) as it is before slicing it up, it just reeks of some fishy going on. Why is this description elaborated so concisely? It almost sounds genuine, coming straight from Eddie's own observations of Rodolpho, unaffected by his desperation of ridding him. Yes, you could say the repetition of 'sweet' only emphasises Eddie's attempt on demeaning him, however, the abundance of detail (of Rodolpho's dress making) preceding this just begs to imply a natural progression of Eddie's mindset, of which views Rodolpho as an entity of repressed affection. Moreover, irony can be suggested by the fact he accuses Rodolpho of being homosexual, yet revealing signs of sexual confusion himself, which could be explained by a fear of admission or exposure. I believe this has foundation, especially since it can be supported by Eddie kissing Rodolpho in Act 2 (pg 52 for me), which could be seen as an act of dominance, but the co-existance of both these quotes implies, as an aggregate, the former view. Also, notice Eddie's tone when speaking to Alfieri. His sentences are shorter (2nd quote, note increment of length/clarity of 1st for comparison), and his ideas are detached and unfounded. The fact his mind is in such a mess when conversing with Alfieri allows for slips of true self-revelation and honesty, despite his intention being otherwise.

Overall, I think including this interpretation alongside Matt's is important and undermentioned, whilst also not debasing his.

  • 1
    Welcome to the site! Nice first answer :-) – Rand al'Thor Nov 13 '17 at 19:13
10
+50

TL:DR - The language has been carefully chosen to cast doubt on Rodolfo's adulthood and masculinity

Eddie is a traditional, older, blue collar dock worker with a conservative attitude to masculinity and the role of men in the family. Rodolfo, his wife's cousin, is the opposite. He is young, liberal and harbours wild dreams of a singing career.

Eddie has also developed an infatuation with his wife's young niece, Catherine. Rodolfo and Catherine develop a relationship and, eventually, begin dating. This further strains relations between the two men.

Here, Eddie's language is denigrating Rodolfo, trying to cast him as young, foolish and dangerously irresponsible. Furthermore, he is trying to convince himself that Rodolfo is homosexual. He is implying these things without saying them outright by his patronising choice of language.

looked so sweet there, like an angel – you could kiss him he was so sweet

"Sweet" is a description you might use for a cute child, not a young adult. This association is strengthened because sweets (as in the confection) are associated with children. You might also use it to describe a pretty young girl, casting doubt on Rodolfo's sexuality.

"An angel" is an interesting one because it is ostensibly a compliment on someone's virtue. But that is not the intention here, given the content. Angelic is, again, a phrase associated with the innocence of childhood and cherubim, literally angels in the form of a child. Innocence and virtue are also traditionally feminine qualities.

"Kiss him" is, coming from a man, another dig at Rodolfo's sexuality. This rough man is insinuating that Rodolfo is girlish enough in looks and behaviour to arouse sexual feeling in other men. It's also stated passively, suggesting that Rodolfo might actually encourage and enjoy such attention.

Paper Doll they call him. Blondie now.

"Paper Doll" is of course a children's toy, not something for a responsible adult. Furthermore it's a toy particularly associated with girls rather than boys, especially as they grow older. And paper is weak, easily torn, not like a tough man should be. There is a further implication on class and education here, since paper is associated on multiple levels with reading, writing and academia which, in Eddie's world view, should not be things of interest to a working man.

"Blondie" is a feminine name with further feminine implications. Men should not be interested in the colour of their hair. Blonde is not a description usually applied to men, with something like fair-headed being used instead. Blonde women are associated with a stereotype of being ditzy, stupid and unreliable.

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