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Songs of Sexuality, Love and Violence in M. Butterfly

  • Journal of Modern English Drama
  • Abbr : JMBARD
  • 2015, 28(3), pp.171-195
  • Publisher : 한국현대영미드라마학회
  • Research Area : Humanities > English Language and Literature > English Literature > Contemporary English Drama

So Young Yoon 1

1건국대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

As well-known, David Henry Hwang’s M. Butterfly is based on a true story of Bernard Boursicot. On top of that, this play owes Puccini’s opera Madame Butterfly. The binary opposition between West/men and East/women and Imperialistic domination are recurring themes to investigate this text and its performance. This play has mainly been analyzed with a view to Edward Said’s Orientalism, Imperialistic power relationships between West and East, reversal of sexual roles as well. Previous studies are inclined to focus on various performances on stage, not the text itself. The main focus of this paper is on three pivotal elements of the play: sexuality, love and violence. So this study examines how three key words based on the text operate with body by adopting Bataille, Kristeva and Girard. This paper examines the function of Rene Gallimard’s love, which is narcissistic and self-contradictory, creating the helpless image of an Oriental woman. What is noteworthy is that protagonist Gallimard seeks for his genuine identity by completing and displaying his own manhood through his perfect woman, Song Liling. Gallimard with Song could be a masculine character in Peking while he was incapable in Paris. Although he displayed his ability as a consul thanks to Song’s help, he quit his job and returned to Paris due to his misinformation about the reality in Viet Nam, which Song as a spy gave. What is significant is that Gallimard cannot redeem his genuine identity as a (white) man. Finally, indicted of passing classified information, Gallimard was sent to prison. Performing the opera “Madame Butterfly” on prison stage, he committed suicide for his blindness on perfect woman of the Orient, and vision of the Orient. This shows what Gallimard’s narcissistic love is and how it leads to ruin. In conclusion, love for his perfect woman made him totally blind to Song’s sex and identity in that Song’s disguise implied one of the most violent intentions that ridiculed Gallimard’s imperialistic blindness and confidence of the West.

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