The Captain And The Movies Essay, Research Paper
Ada Negri’s two short stories “The Captain” and “The Movies” express the feelings and lives of Italian women during fascism. The fascist regime was very strict and spread propaganda declaring the state more important than the individual. The people of Italy bought into national policy and became like robots in their daily chores. There was no room for imagination and adventure, any places for dreams to be realized. In this essay I will demonstrate how Ada Negri’s short stories were a reflection of women’s lives and ideas under the tyranny of Italian fascism. I will show how women were taught to act and how they were conformed to fascist policies through years of propaganda. Ada Negri’s stories express the views of Italian women during fascism and show how fascist Italy affected their lives.
Ada Negri’s short story “The Captain” demonstrates how Italian women were conformed to the ideas of the fascist dictatorship under Benito Mussolini. The Captain showed many qualities that would lead someone to expect her to become an important person of some sort when she grew up. “With that passion for power?she would reveal and assert a dominating femininity and an intelligent, bold force of will”(30). This quote leads us to believe that the Captain had many goals and ambitions as a little girl. She was always dominating, leading the other, bigger kids around like loyal soldiers. She showed a dominating attitude that expressed her will to take control of a situation. “The little Captain seized the leadership of every game. She knew how to rule with an iron hand”(29). The Captain was definitely a strong little girl, but five years of fascism changed all that. The gross national conformity of fascist policy kept the Captain, and all women in Italy, from becoming original or standing out. The fascists taught the children that the state was more important than the individual. Women were expected to stay home and take care of the family while the men put food on the table. Five years of this fascist propaganda changed the captain from her once dominating ways. She no longer stood out among the other kids her age. She had conformed to school life and would shortly be conforming to all aspects of Italian culture under the fascist regime. The Captain is a typical example of most young women during this time. She fell into the depths of the fascist regime and followed its policies that were inscribed into the daily lives of Italian citizens. “The same old thing, the same old wheel that turns for so many?young girls, and it only stops the day when you’re no longer anyone at all. Everything grows dull, becomes deadened, and adapts to necessity. Farewell Captain”(31).
The woman in “The Movies” again expresses qualities that could lead one to believe that she yearns for something more. Her consistent pattern of visiting the movies and escaping reality is a sign of Italian woman’s dreams being repressed by fascist propaganda and policy. The woman in this story is plain. She works as a typist and really has no social status or life. Fascism could be the cause of her sad condition, which tells her she must conform and work for the state. Personal needs are second to the good of the country. Each person is expected to give up their dreams and to work diligently at their jobs for a cause alien to them. “Perhaps this need for flights of fantasy is born from the bareness and poverty of her own destiny”(59). She yearns for something else to help her escape the reality of being a forty-year-old typist working for the state. The woman goes to the movies in order to fulfill her forgotten dreams that would never be realized while subjected to Italian fascist policies. She does not associate with anyone else, she never did. She was alone and wanted to feel secure among the scenery of distant lands where she is just as well know as she was in Italy. “A passion burns inside her-although she’s never even admitted it to herself and she shows no sign of it, that passion is appeased by the fantastic happenings she enjoys and endures on the screen”(61). The woman’s dreams are fulfilled when she goes to the movies. She lives the movies over and over in her mind to give herself momentary breaks from her hopeless life. The movies represent for her an escape from fascist Italy with all it’s propaganda and policies, which undermined the individual in exchange for the well being of the state.
“She’s not aware of how it happens, but beginning with the first scenes, she completely identifies with the leading lady’s character?For two or three very long and fleeting hours she lives in countries she’s never seen before but recognizes at first sight and where she feels at ease, as though she’d always lived there”(60).
This longing that the woman feels is the longing for adventure, which she has never experienced. She becomes so involved with the characters that she throws herself in the path of an oncoming car because she was dreaming part of a movie she had just watched and wanted to make an impression on society-something she felt she couldn’t do in a fascist Italy. Ada Negri’s short stories reflect how Italian fascism led to the diminishing dreams of Italian women and suppression of their being, as a result of fascist propaganda and ideas.
Ada Negri’s two short stories “The Captain” and “The Movies” give us a good idea of how woman’s lives were affected by the rise of fascism in Italy. These women had to give up their childhood dreams of stardom, adventure, and leadership skills for the routine daily work of the fascist state. They were told that they were inferior to men and served only to benefit the state and their husbands. Women stayed at home where they were told they should be, making babies and staying at home performing typical female tasks such as cooking and cleaning. The lives that Italian women led during fascism were much less than exciting. Because of this they often strive for things beyond their reach. Whether it be fantasy getaways to far-a-way places, or dominating and being original. The conditions of Italy at this time would not permit their dreams to become reality. Women were forced to live unappreciated in a fascist state where the good of the country outweighed the wants and needs of the individual.