The Macksey Journal


The end of the Risorgimento, a tumultuous period of Italian state unification culminating under the House of Savoy in 1861, represented a transition in Italian politics and identity. Before the Risorgimento, the Italian peninsula was a collection of kingdoms and competing political entities. As the country unified for the first time, the ruling aristocratic class became increasingly less powerful and relevant. Luchino Visconti's Il Gattopardo recounts the novel of Tomasi di Lampedusa, depicting this period in Italy's history by exploring the tension between the old, aristocratic class and new bourgeoisie class. Particularly, Visconti's development of the story's two leading protagonists, Prince of Salina and Angelica, highlights the social and political transition of Italian classes during the Risorgimento and demonstrates the strained relationship between those who strive for progress and those who remain stagnant in their traditional identities which previously defined Italy. The Prince's tacit consent and surrender to the new system that is overcoming his world demonstrate his realization to the inevitability of change. Angelica juxtaposes the Prince's character with her un-refined femininity which represents a sense of raw power of the new order. Through the Prince and Angelica, Visconti encourages history to face the present times, where emerging middle class and nationalist ideals triumph over the old, traditional social structure.