Throughout the play, issues of law and justice are raised frequently. Choose three events from the play that highlight there issues and explain their dramatic importance.
Fundamentally law and justice are dissimilar when used in connection with the Sicilian community and this is highlighted frequently by conversations between Eddie and Alfieri, Marco’s pivotal role as the Sicilian form of justice and his attempt to serve it and ultimately, Alfieri’s speech which strikes the balance between the two and conveys that harmony doesn’t come with choosing one, rather borrowing elements of both law and justice.
The first major scene introducing the dynamics of law and justice is portrayed in Eddie’s discussion with Alfieri where he attempts to attach Rodolopho’s gender status by claiming ‘he’s just [not] right’, hinting his possible homosexuality and then supporting this with the evidence of Rodolpho’s ‘blond’ ‘wacky hair’ that emphasise Rodolpho’s effeminate ways. Nonetheless, much to Eddie’s surprise ‘there’s no law for this’ conveying that the law cannot serve justice all the time, especially for such emotional matters. Eddie then attempts to accuse Rodolpho of marrying Catherine simply because he’s ‘bowin[g] to his passport’ which seems more valid compared to his previous attack on Rodolpho’s character, as it could possibly involve the destruction of a young girl’s life. However once again ‘[Eddie] has no recourse in the law’ and is forced o risk his daughter’s life which could be based on Rodolpho’s legal greed. The law is powerless and ironically this is unjust.
In addition to this scene is the opposing force of justice when Alfieri claims that Eddie could use the law to question ‘the manner in which [the illegal immigrants] entered the country’, introducing the Sicilian concept of law where betrayal suffers severe punishment. This is contradictory to the American law which actually is in favour of confessing a crime. As well as that, Eddie’s response that ‘he [can’t]’ denotes the significance of his idea of justice which involves removing Rodolopho from his daughter’s life without breaking the Sicilian law, at least those are his original intentions.
Law and justice are also prominent
issues towards end in the brawl between Marco and Eddie. When Marco is arrested
he’s shocked that “nothing will happen to Eddie”, symbolizing that the American
law only protects those that follow it, regardless of whether their actions are
just. Additionally, Marco believes that ‘in [their] country Eddie would be dead
by now’, indicating the intolerant Sicilian form of justice which is much more
instinctive and impulsive, as opposed to rule-based like the American one.
Besides that, Marco is reluctant to ‘promise not to kill’ as to him it’s
dishonourable which conveys the importance of honesty in Sicilian justice.
Nonetheless such, to some extent ‘Romantic’ ideas are disliked in
Thirdly is Alfieri’s speech in the end to audience, a lot like a Greek chorus which highlights moral values, including law and justice. He regards Eddie highly as ‘there’s something perversely pure’ about him that intrigues Alfieri, denoting that although Eddie does finally break the Sicilian law his instinctive desire to follow his impulses, which ironically is the Sicilian form of justice make him appealing. However, he’s also careful to say that it’s better to ‘settle for half, it must be!’ which signifies that in terms of everyday life one cannot base reason on their emotions, instead they must compromise and ‘settle’ with the law and although it loses the essence of being ‘truly holy’, it is absolutely necessary for the harmony we desire, punctuated by the exclamation mark.
Essentially law and justice are in many ways the difference between the American and Sicilian moral values. However, Eddie’s Sicilian nature which leads him to ultimately follow the American law symbolizes the unrest and disharmony when the two clash, and yet illustrates something innately ‘holy’ when elements of both are borrowed.