Orientalism in Madame Butterfly

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  • Topic: Orient, Orientalism, Western world
  • Pages : 1 (268 words )
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  • Published : January 3, 2013
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“The feminine and weak Orient awaits the dominance of the West; it is a defenseless and unintelligent whole that exists for, and in terms of, its Western counterpart. The importance of such a construction is that it creates a single subject matter where non existed, a compilation of previously unspoken notions of the Other” (pg. 2).

Said’s implication of Latent Orientalism goes hand in hand with the content and obvious relationship between Butterfly and Pinkerton in Puccini’s “Love Duet”. In this case, Butterfly is displayed as the “feminine, [permeable] and supine [passive] … [where the impression identifies her as] the Other the conquerable, and the inferior” (5th paragraph). Not only does Butterfly portray that of a seducer (in Pinkerton’s eyes; an object to be corrupted and “eager to be dominated”(pg. 1)), but also she is strikingly exotic in terms of representation of “untouched” land to be claimed.

In parallel to Puccini’s work, the Oriental woman is used as a representation of subservient land while the colonial required knowledge (power) while exploring, “molesting” if you will, the Orient that “the West came to own” (pg.2). The opera, essentially, is a subliminal corresponding message between femininity (passive, defenseless, and awaiting the dominance of the West) much exactly like that of the Asian/Middle-Eastern countries, cultures, and landscape. Evolution, therefore, takes place through the enforcement of Orientalism in Opera’s (political propaganda) in the minds of the consumer (as Said explains more elaborately in Contemporary Orientalism in discussion of “the Arab” (pg. 2)), where the authority of a nation (in this case, the West) is continuously being reinforced.
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