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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
Selective Readings of Modern & Contemporary Literary Theories
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
3) Oriental “woman”: submissive & pleasing; the “Other” to help define the self.
1) Mutual definition of roles.
While G is gaining power, he needs encouragement.
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)
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?
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.”
“Butterfly? Butterfly?” (loss of Power?)
-- Gallimard: denies the other, and lives with his fantasy (maintenance of power?)
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
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)