Lampedusa set his novel in exact parallel of when Sicily came into conflict with the forward movement of democracy and social judgment. Garibaldi is always in the sidelines in The Leopard as are the battles, marches and revolts. We are shut in a place with the Prince as he wonders what to do. While making choices that are brilliant (marrying his nephew Tancredi to the nouveau riche beauty Angelica) but in the long term pointless (refusing an offer to a seat in the Senate); his class is doomed.
The Prince rejects the idea that the feudal class structure is what is wrong with Sicily. Because feudalism is everywhere Sicily's landscape and climate have been crushed of hope and ambition. The Prince claims that Sicilian sensuality is a love affair with death; that a desire for the grave obsesses the culture and will seep out and poison the new Italy. The Prince is able to get inside our heads and make us realize that we are all Sicilians now.
Symbolically, the leopard has always been associated with pride, valor, and power. The creature with the array of spots and markings has stood by the side of kings, and decorated the coat of arms for many aristocrats. Many saw the feline as an indication of virility and strength. The leopard also keeps us aware that no matter how powerful or prescient we become, nature will always provide an element to keep us under control.
The same is true for the Prince. Don Frabrizio's cunning and craft are legendary. He is known for decisive yet deceptive strategies, using all information and elements at his disposal to plot his actions. His emotions run deep like a river,...