La donna fatale tra evoluzione ed emarginazione
Owens, Courtney N.
In the history of women there have been many controversial figures that have challenged the stereotypes and traditional ideas about women formed by patriarchal societies. Amidst the women who chose to break the rules of society and contradict the perfect, "feminine" model of purity, there are some women that can be considered true heroines of their time. Such women outside of the regular schemas of society are called many different names: vampire, man-eater, ogress, siren, tiger, witch, amazon, seductress, or courtesan. The all-encompassing name is femme fatale and she finds an ally in the beginnings of cinema and she becomes known as diva. The silent movies become her world stage and with the silver screen she finds an outlet to seduce a new audience: the everyday people. The purpose of this thesis is to examine the evolution of the Italian femme fatale of Italian silent film by following examples of her origins in 19th-century history, art, fashion, poetry, theater and literature. The popularity of the femme fatale culminates in the 1910s and then her figure eventually becomes marginalized by societal pressures. The function and role of the Italian femme fatale is discussed from a symbolic and iconographical point of view, while considering the femme fatale's implications for feminism. Does the Italian femme fatale represent modernity and the emancipation of women? Or, does she only confirm gender roles set by men? Does her role in Italian silent film mirror changes, or represent progress off the silver screen? The thesis attempts to answer such questions by analyzing the films and the lives of Francesca Bertini, Pina Menichelli, Lyda Borelli as well as Eleonora Duse.
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