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De Berniere's Presentation Of Politicians In Captain Corelli's Mandolin

1824 words - 7 pages

De Berniere's Presentation of Politicians in Captain Corelli's Mandolin

In Captain Corelli's Mandolin, De Bernieres includes chapters which
are dedicated to Mussolini and Metaxas. He uses actual historical
figures alongside fictional characters to add a sense of reality and
to give the novel an historical aspect. De Bernieres presents both
politicians in a contrasting way. He introduces Mussolini who delivers
a dramatic monologue in chapter 2. The chapter satirises Mussolini's
character depicting him as a bad leader who has a love of violence and
an obsession with Hitler's Nazi regime. He is shown to be a
megalomaniac, incompetent, vain and ruthless. Metaxas on the other
hand is seen as a more pathetic figure, a sick and dying man but one
who is honorable and respected by his people.

Although there are only two chapters written on Mussolini in the
novel, he is referred to throughout the novel by other characters. In
chapter 2 Mussolini is shown to be vain and arrogant and obsessed with
mirrors and his appearance. He asks one of his subordinates, 'Now tell
me something; which is my best profile, right or left….. go and fetch
me some mirrors so that I can arrange to see for myself'. Because of
his small stature and his feelings of self importance, Mussolini feels
that he must always appear to be above the people and therefore
dispatches somebody to go around the city 'to find the best
balconies'. De Bernieres portrays his character quite accurately in
this respect. In reality, Mussolini had the power to censor the press
as he wanted the Italians to see him as a superhuman being. He
produced propaganda to promote the cult of 'Il Duce'. He was portrayed
as vigorous, athletic and courageous and a model for all Italian men.
He was never photographed in his glasses and always made to look
taller. In fact De Bernieres ridicules Mussolini's vanity.

Mussolini is shown to be a megalomaniac as De Bernieres makes many
references to his obsession with power. He sees Italy as a superpower
'Italy is as inflexible as steel' and has visions of taking over the
world 'Imagine it, Galeazzo, the whole Mediterranean littoral rebuilt
into a new Roman Empire. We've got Libya, and it's just a question of
joining the dots'.

De Bernieres portrays Mussolini's obsession with Hitler and Nazism. He
wants the Italian soldiers to be strong like the German soldiers.
'They need to be colder like the Germans. Ice in the soul, that's what
we need'. He wants to keep in with Hitler 'Either we join with him and
divide the spoils or else we risk an invasion from Austria as soon as
the little man sees fit'. This shows he is Hitler's puppet and how
Mussolini is unbalanced and hypocritical because at the same time, he
criticises Hitler for invading Europe 'There seems no limit to his
greed and...

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