Song Liling As The Convincing Oriental Butterfly Analysis

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C. Song Liling as the Convincing Oriental Butterfly Gallimard meets Song Liling in a German ambassador’s house. At that time, Song is the opera diva performing Butterfly of Madama Butterfly on the stage. In fact, Gallimard is not into opera; however, Song’s performance, especially the death scene of Butterfly, has changed his idea to opera as well as Madama Butterfly. In Gallimard’s previous experiences, he has “always seen it played by huge women in so much bad makeup” (Hwang 16). Nonetheless, when Butterfly is played by the Oriental woman, it becomes convincing to Gallimard.
Even if Song Liling is a Chinese woman, not a Japanese woman, Gallimard believes that Song Liling is that Japanese Butterfly. In other words, Gallimard not only fails
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The “pure sacrifice” Butterfly does for an “unworthy” American man is utterly intriguing to Gallimard (Hwang 17). In Gallimard mind, he believes in that Butterfly’s sacrifice is due to love. With Madama Butterfly, it forms Gallimard’s vision of the Oriental woman:
Here . . . was a Butterfly with little or no voice—but she had the grace, the delicacy . . . I believed this girl. I believed her suffering. I wanted to take her in my arms—so delicate, even I could protect her, take her home, pamper her until she smiled. (Hwang 15-6)
As the representee, silence is always a good character. Since so long as the representee cannot speak, the representer can get the authority and legitimacy to represent in any way they like. In addition, a voiceless person cannot refute or defend, in this way, this taciturnity can be explained as acquiescence to those representations, which is the most attractive part to the representer. In Orientalism, Flaubert and an Egyptian courtesan Kuchuk Hanem’s relation make a classic example of the voiceless Oriental butterfly. Edward Said indicates that everything relates to Kuchuk Hanem has to be portrayed and represented by Flaubert; he fully uses his language, imagination and interpretation to depict who she
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Gallimard believes that Song “is outwardly bold and outspoken, yet her heart is shy and afraid. It is the Oriental in her at war with her Western education” (Hwang 27). Song, after all, cannot jump out from the character of the timid Oriental Butterfly and her inferior position. This conception motivates Gallimard’s desire of being the “foreign devil” and starts to drive him to deliberately do a cruel experiment on Song (Hwang 31). In addition to catching his Butterfly, Gallimard aims to bear witness this butterfly is willing to “writhe on a needle” for him like Cio-Cio-San (Hwang 31).
In the next few days after visiting Song’s flat, Gallimard advisedly neither goes to see Song’s performance of the opera nor replies her letter although he perceives his butterfly would like to see him. In terms of Gallimard’s notion, this action makes him feel “the first time that rush of power—the absolute power of a man” (Hwang 32). With capable of making a decision by himself in a relation, Gallimard finally tastes the sweetness of dominating power and this power allows him to torture his butterfly through increasing the distance between each
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