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Sexuality, Textuality and Ethics: M. Butterfly (the ending) as an Example. Selective Readings of Modern & Contemporary Literary Theories. Outline. General Introd The play and reversal of binaries Power Play Identity defined by clothes and performance

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sexuality textuality and ethics m butterfly the ending as an example

Sexuality, Textuality and Ethics: M. Butterfly (the ending) as an Example

Selective Readings of Modern & Contemporary Literary Theories

outline
Outline
  • General Introd
    • The play and reversal of binaries
    • Power Play
    • Identity defined by clothes and performance
  • Sexuality as Stereotypes: The ending
  • Textuality:
  • Historical context
  • The film
  • 20/20 interview
m butterfly metatheatrical elements
M. Butterfly: metatheatrical elements

I. A critical parody of Orientalism; e.g. “my little one”; love duet // girlie magazine

II. A meta-theatre revising Madame Butterfly

Madame Butterfly  Song Li-ling (a man)

III. The Characters as (writers and) performers

Song  Cio-Cio Sang; Comrad Chin  Suzuki;

Pinkerton  Gallimard; Marc  Sharpless

stereotypes in binary opposition g marc vs women
Stereotypes in Binary Opposition:G/Marc vs. Women
  • Womanizer vs. Wimp: Marc vs. Gallimard
  • Western women (strong or not lovable) vs. Oriental women

3) Oriental “woman”: submissive & pleasing; the “Other” to help define the self.

binaries relativized 1
Binaries Relativized (1)

1) Mutual definition of roles.

Madame Butterfly

While G is gaining power, he needs encouragement.

power play power relativized subverted
Power Play: Power Relativized & Subverted

1. Between Song and G: with S’s pretending to be powerless and G, indifferent.

2. While Song is re-gaining his power: he continues and exaggerates the role of Oriental woman.

2. G: When G wants to gain more power (p. 54 ) --not from Renee but from Song-- he actually loses it.(56)

identity construction thru signs performance roles clothes identity
Identity Construction thru’ Signs & PerformanceRoles = Clothes = Identity?

1) e.g. Costume change on the stage: 9, 14, 86-87

2) Gallimard not undressing Song. 60

-- Is there truth underneath clothes? Or is clothing a part of identity?

ending
Ending

Final switching of roles:

0) previous scene: Song critiques Orientalism.

1) The past as performance -- “theatre of China” 85 “White Man”

2) Song’s Change of Roles: stripping not to lay bare his “real” body, but to take another role

 “ a man, and not just a man.”

 your fantasy

 “Butterfly? Butterfly?” (loss of Power?)

-- Gallimard: denies the other, and lives with his fantasy (maintenance of power?)

textuality 1 history
Textuality (1): History

Historical Background  the subversion of several authorities

1) Vietnam War: succession of colonial control. France’s loss of control.

History: 1860 – French colonization started, followed by Japan during WWII;

After WWII ~ 1955: France fought hard to regain their former territories without success.

1954-- the country divided into North and South

  • Cultural revolution -- 1966-1976; tradition’s or Chinese opera’s loss of power
  • France: May 68: France's month of revolution
textuality 3 historical figures
Textuality (3): historical figures

History of Bernard Bouriscot and Shi Peipu –differences from M. Butterfly (source: 20/20)

-- Six months after their friendship, Shi Peipu said he was not the man he appeared to be, but was a woman in disguise as a man.

-- BB no previous sexual experience;

-- BB: stayed in China twice: left China in 1966, went back four years later to search for Shi and their son.

-- because he was obsessed with being able to continue to see Peipu, Bernard began smuggling secret documents out of the French embassy and bringing them to the two Communist Party officials. (in China)

shi peipu dodging the questions
Shi Peipu – dodging the questions
  • BARBARA WALTERS: He has said that you told him you were a woman.
  • SHI PEIPU: (through interpreter) If that's what he said, that's what he said. As for me, I say, “I won't contradict him,” and I don't like lies. He's free and I am free.
  • BARBARA WALTERS: Is he lying about you?
  • SHI PEIPU: (through interpreter) Oh, whatever he likes.
  •  relativism
boursicot multiple interpretation and multiple texts
BOURSICOT – multiple interpretation and multiple texts
  • BARBARA WALTERS: You are an intelligent man and there is the theory that you were homosexual all those years ago, but couldn't face it, and so you allowed yourself to be deceived. How do you answer that?
  • BERNARD BOURSICOT: It is possible, but it's not the sole explanation.
  • --believes PP a homosexual and a good actor all his life.

**********

  • B – lived on the money he earned from selling the film rights to M Butterfly and from the book written about this affair.
  • PP – a producer is interested in making a film about him.