The professional name, Raging Bull, fits not only Jake LaMotta's career life, but his personal life too. Jake was so full of rage in his heart that it prevented him from seeing the true culprit of his demise until it was too late. Everything caved in on him from the fight where he takes a payoff to lose for the mob to his obsessions over his wife Vickie and other men. Even up to the time when he sees his brother again he is more concerned with himself than others. I say this because, instead of recognizing that his brother might be a little uncomfortable meeting up again and might want to take it slow, he starts hanging all over him wanting his forgiveness. Don't get me wrong, I believe he was sincere, but he should have had the insight to know that it wasn't going to be a "ÃÂLet's kiss and make up' deal, which is how he dealt with every bad encounter he had throughout his life.
From the beginning he treats everyone like dirt the majority of the time. For example, when his first wife is cooking him dinner, he screams for the steak and doesn't even let her explain that it might not be done. It just didn't matter, he wanted the steak now and he better have it now! Then when he realizes that he screwed up he has the nerve to tell her "Let's just be friends." (DeNiro) I would have nailed this guy if he were my husband! This scene was a fine example of his rude, selfish, and insecure personality. Nothing is good enough for him and he proves this when he starts courting after Vickie, his second wife as a replacement to his first wife.
When he spots Vickie at the pool, he is not checking her out because he thinks he has just fallen madly in love. He is checking her out, because she is gorgeous and what a great show piece she would be for a prizefighter. She would make him the envy of every man and he knew it. I'm not sure that later in the marriage he is even in love with Vickie. I think he probably was more obsessed with the idea of losing something that belonged to him. This is basically the engine that drives him, not boxing, but a jealous obsession with his wife, Vickie, and a fear of sexuality.1 Maybe the fear of sexuality was because he secretly viewed himself as a monster too and did not believe anyone could find him to be a sexy kind of guy. This insecurity seemed to be a driving factor for his jealousy of every man that came near Vickie. Including toward, the end of the marriage, his own brother, Joey.
Joey, although no angle himself, seemed to be the one factor that kept LaMotta on course. Joey reminded him of his goals, and set him straight when he was getting out of line. For example, when he slaps Vickie, Joey jumps his case even though he knows his brother will probably kick his butt. Even though Jake came to distrust his brother too, you could tell that he relied on the opinion of his brother to make a lot of his decisions and when they parted ways, it contributed to his destruction.
Jake never has a really good reason to accuse Joey and Vickie of an affair. He wanted so bad to be right about her that he starts seeing things that are not there. For example, right before the prize fight, after the fight where he was paid off by the mob to lose, he is visited by a couple of the mob representatives and during their departure he is watching Joy and Vickie very closely. He decides after this scrutiny that there is more going on between them than meets the eye. He bases this decision only on the fact that Joey has his arm around her shoulders and his suspicions of them continue to get worse from this point forward.
When he finally explodes, Vickie is so sick of the whole jealousy business that she tells him she has been in bed with every one of them, including his brother. If you ask me, this is exactly what he wanted to hear. He looked for so many years for some form of disloyal behavior in her and she finally gave him what he was searching for. Unfortunately, this encounter only serves to sever his relationship with Joey. In fact, Cathy Moriarty who played the part of Vickie states, "Vickie never did fool around with anybody else, especially Joey, it was all in Jake's mind." 2 I believe she finally gets the picture when Jake and Vickie are interviewed by their swimming pool in their Florida retirement home. The reporter asks for Vickie's opinion and before she can finish her reply, he rudely interrupts, and then stops to ask her if she was finished. He has finally gone so low that he doesn't even consider her feelings anymore at all. When he opens his nightclub he continues his grotesque behavior by getting on stage and cracking ignorant jokes that he finds totally hilarious. Then he goes into bantering about his wife on stage as if they had this perfect little marriage, which he knows is not true at all. Finally, Vickie gets the picture that this guy is not going to change his ways, and gets the hell out of there. If there was a hero in this movie at all, it was Vickie, not Jake.
I wish I could say something nice about Jake. I guess I could say that I feel sorry for him. He was so obsessed with the attention he received and what Vickie was doing that he completely ruined his life. However, I think he would have ruined his life even if he had not married Vickie. The only way for him to ever feel as though he were redeemed of the awful things he did was for him to see the truth through his own eyes as others had for years. I believe this is also the meaning of the bible scripture that ends the movie. What a tragic way to end your life by losing all those things that are really what is most important to you.