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One of the ways Arthur Miller presents Rodolpho is by his opening line, “This will be the first house I ever walked into in America! Imagine! She said they were poor!” This line highlight that Rodolpho is clearly excited about being in America and also tells us that there is a big difference in wealth between people in America and Sicily, which may be the main reason why they are in America, to earn money. Another point to note, is that this sentence is very similar to Catherine’s line when Rodolpho is telling her about Italy “In Italy he says, every town’s got fountains…And you know what? They got oranges on the trees where he comes from.” Miller has used a naïve tone in both situations in order to convey the fact that these characters are both similar in the way that they are both passionate about life and they share a sense of innocence which is portrayed by their use of multiple points in a phrase and the ability to speak their mind.
Another point to make about Rodolpho is the fact that he has one very specific goal in mind about being in America, and that is to become wealthy, “Me, I want to be an American. And then I want to go back to Italy when I am rich, and I will buy a Motorcycle. The use of auxiliary verbs such as ‘will’ and ‘want’ is to highlight how simple Rodolpho thinks his time in America will be, and that he is heavily influenced by the dreams he has, “he dreams, he dreams.” Perhaps Rodolpho’s dreams were influenced by American Culture in the 1950’s such as such as Hollywood, which is supported by the line, “A man comes into a great hotel and says, I am a messenger. Who is this man? He disappears walking, there is no noise, nothing.” The line has a mysterious, movie-like feel to the line due to the vivid imagery created by the rhetorical question and frequent repetition. It is also very clear that Rodolpho’s dreams are very well thought out, “With a blue motorcycle I would station myself in the courtyard of the hotel, and in a little while I would have messages. The use of a scenario and ‘blue motorcycle’ highlights that not only he has thought this through, he is obsessed with the idea, and is eager for his dreams to come true.
Although Rodolpho may only seem Optimistic and Enthusiastic, at times he does have a serious side, “How much? We hear all kinds of figures. How much can a man make? We work hard, we’ll work all day, all night-” The use of questions and a keen tone is to highlight that Rodolpho is significantly interested when there is a topic of money, and this is also because he is influenced by an American culture. Once Rodolpho does earn some money, He spends it, “What does he do with his first money? A snappy new jacket he buys, records, a pointy pair new shoes…” Although Rodolpho’s main objective is to become wealthy, the moment he earns money, he spends it on consumption goods rather than saving it, in order to match his dreams; A Romantic Hollywood hero. Moreover, this suggests that Marco has had to control him for all of his life, to avoid money being invested in short term goods rather than long term goods. The sentence, “Sugar? Yes! I like sugar very much!” Has a sub-text about Rodolpho that he enjoys a lifestyle of short-term pleasure, whilst not fully conscious that these actions will impact him in the long term.
In addition to having a serious side, Rodolpho questions criticism towards him, Marco: “he sang to loud.” Rodolpho: “why too loud?” This section of conversation tells us that, when required, Rodolpho is able to stand up for himself and his feminine-favoured talents such as cooking and singer do not represent Rodolpho’s true self. However, it may be apparent that Rodolpho feels a great sense of discomfort in hostile conversations, which a forayed in the line just after questioning Marco’s disagreement, “Oh, I sing Napolidan, jazz, bel canto- I sing ‘Paper Doll’, you like ‘Paper Doll’? Miller’s use of commas is to break the sentence in order to emphasize that Rodolpho is Excited to talk about one of his interests, and perhaps he is relieved that the subject has been changed, and that the mood is less threatening.
One point to note about Rodolpho’s diction is that it changes dramatically when talking just to Eddie, “I would like to go to Broadway once, Eddie. I would like to walk with her once where the theatres are and the opera.” When Rodolpho is not speaking to Eddie directly, “I want to be an American. And then I want to go back to Italy when I am rich, and I will buy a motorcycle.” The difference in formality and use of ‘would like’ instead of ‘will’ highlights that Rodolpho has great regard for Eddie, and ultimately respects any of Eddie’s decisions. Rodolpho also refers to Eddie as his name, in contrast to how Eddie refers to Rodolpho, “You know what they’re calling him now? Paper Doll they’re calling him, Canary. He’s like a weird. He comes out on the pier…” This point further proves that Rodolpho has respect for Eddie early on in the play, and in a way admires Rodolpho for letting him stay in their house.
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