M. Butterfly
"Vive la difference!" (4)
I. Gendered Subject and Colonial/Male Power
  • Gallimard's experience back home in France vs. his experience in China;
  • Gallimard's ascension to power(vice-Consul) p 36-38; conversation with Toulon pp. 44-46;
  • Gallimard's relationship with Song:
    • attraction by her criticism of Madame Butterfly p. 16
    • "sour grape" theory p. 18
    • at the opera house, Song's suggestiveness p. 20-22 ("sometimes)
    • a thirst intensified p. 27
    • first meeting at the apartment pp. 27-31
    • Gallimard's experiment  p. 32 -- the letters
    • Gallimard's promotion -- approach Song as Butterfly at the end of Act I
    • Act II: Song starts his espionage; two-way espionage pp. 44 - 47 -- power deflated by the appearance of Chin pp. 47-48
    • Gallimard's loss of power (1): Helga -- Gallimard -- Song over the issue of child-bearing -- Song supports his male egotism by promising to give him a child.
    • Gallimard's loss of power (2): Renee
    • Gallimard's loss of power (3) -- goes to Song as "a vessel to contain [his] humiliation" (58)
  • Colonialism // Orientalism + sexism
    1. examples of colonialism: p. 44; p. 57
    2. Madame Butterfly as the perfect woman // the rape mentality of the West  p. 82 - 83
    3. male voyeurism
    4. Marc as G's model and rival p. 8; "her destiny to surrender" pp. 24-25

  • the roles of the Western women: Isabella p. 32; Renee pp. 54-55 (Renee's interpretation of wars); Helga

II. Subject and Performance of differences:

    Why do the characters take on different roles in this play?  Or more specifically, why some of their roles in the play within the play (Madame Butterfly) get reversed in the play (p. 7)?  Why does Gallimard speak to the audience "us" (pp. 4, 12, 15, 18, 75)?  Who else in the play speaks to the audience? (p. 47; 63,67, 78-79)
Marc as Sharpless p. 7;
Conrad Chin as Suzuki,
Gallimard as Pinkerton (and finally as Butterfly); Gallimard speaks for Butterfly 13

Song's switching of roles: against Orientalism p. 17; want to educate G and expand his mind; timid and nervous pp. 30-31;  "Are you my Butterfly?"  39; "modest Chinese girl"  Gallimard's change: 60

The doning and doffing of clothes on the stage:  e.g. pp. 4; 9, 14, 86-87

III. History as competing discourses (or re-constructions, fictions)

  • Into Gallimard's re-construction, Song intrudes and has his own. climax p. 60 --  pp. 61; 63; p. 78; p. 85
  • Gallimard's interpretation p. 84
  •   final switching of roles: Song: "little one" p. 86; Gallimard, "as sorry as Butterfly p. 91; Song: "Butterfly?  Butterfly?"
  • The ending shows two men with their separate imagination/fiction of their Butterflies.
IV. homosexuality:
  Why does "Pinkerton vanish" in the climatic scene of Gallimard's declaration of love for and desire to marry Song?  p. 60
The playwright's afterword (online version)

Related Links:

About the playwright

About the play: Orientalism: Orientalism: a Brief Definition - Other postcolonial terms