Critical Overview

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Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 453

Ginzburg’s achievement in writing The Advertisement was honored with the international Marzotto Prize, which she was awarded in 1968. However, Ginzburg has been more widely recognized for her fiction, autobiographical novel, and nonfiction essays than for her dramatic writings. Only one of her ten plays has been translated into English.

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Ginzburg’s achievement in writing The Advertisement was honored with the international Marzotto Prize, which she was awarded in 1968. However, Ginzburg has been more widely recognized for her fiction, autobiographical novel, and nonfiction essays than for her dramatic writings. Only one of her ten plays has been translated into English.

Critics of The Advertisement focus on its feminist perspective, exploring the experiences of women in marriage and family in the historical context of a rapidly changing modern society. In the introduction to Plays by and about Women, in which The Advertisement is published in English translation, Victoria Sullivan and James Hatch focus on the character of Teresa as an example of the plight of women in modern society. They describe The Advertisement as a ‘‘frightening portrait of female limitation,’’ for ‘‘her long-winded, egocentric monologues say something about the female state.’’ Sullivan and Hatch comment that, ‘‘Having been brought up with no particular goal except to catch a man, she cannot support herself economically or emotionally.’’ Teresa’s compulsive speech is interpreted as a function of her feelings of powerlessness as a woman; as Sullivan and Hatch observe, ‘‘Teresa is a woman who has been reduced to talk as her only form of action.’’

Giuseppe Faustini, in the Dictionary of Literary Biography, has characterized the central theme of Ginzburg’s plays as the dissolution of traditional family roles in modern Italian culture. Faustini observes:

Ginzburg’s plays offer a microcosm of Italian society in transition. Her characters reflect the grief and anxiety that result from the disintegration of traditional social structures such as the institutions of marriage and family. She uses drama to examine the changing roles of marital and familial relationships and the effects of the political and social reforms that took place primarily in the 1960s and 1970s.

Faustini further points out Ginzburg’s concern with the experiences of women in a changing society. In her plays, in particular, ‘‘she attempts to liberate female characters who are often controlled by their male partners.’’ The characters of Elena and Teresa in The Advertisement ‘‘struggle within a male-dominated world as they seek to assert themselves within the changing roles of wife and mother.’’ Faustini notes that the struggle of women to effectively communicate their experiences is highlighted in The Advertisement, as Teresa and Elena ‘‘try to adjust to marriage and divorce as they attempt to make sense of their chaotic emotions resulting from their inability to communicate.’’ In her plays more so than her novels, Faustini asserts, ‘‘Ginzburg is able to express her preoccupation with women’s dependence on men as fathers, husbands, or lovers. She shows deep concerns about the disintegration of family life and about what she regards as parasitic male behavior.’’

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