M Butterfly Essays

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But in the grand scheme of things, how he feels about the matter is inconsequential and thus, this little incident where he snubs his mother is glossed over.

Instead, the scene closes with a song sung by all, whose repeated refrain underscores Edward’s duty to his family: “A boy’s best friend is his mother.” (35) Act One closes with the wedding scene which is supposed to contain the “deviant” sexualities of both Harry and Ellen, and sustain the future of the white patriarchal bloodline.

In this context, gender, race and nation are socially constructed, or discursively produced, not in mutual exclusion but in mutual constitution.

Foucault posits a world of discourse which is “a multiplicity of discursive elements that can come into play in various strategies.” (quoted in Wolfreys 67) One such strategy, as identified by Said, is that of self which is defined in opposition to Other.

and Edward Said have also claimed are socially constructed.

Of course, the difference between de Beauvoir and Butler is that the latter benefits from the work done by Michel Foucault on discourse “as a series of discontinuous segments whose tactical function is neither uniform nor stable” (quoted in Wolfreys 67).We must resist this dark female lust, Betty, or it will swallow us up.” (34) In the same way that British identity is constructed in opposition to the colonial Other, a strong and powerful masculinity is asserted in opposition to a dark and destructive femininity.Moreover, as Howe-Kritzer states: “This identification [with the Other] divides women and Africans both from each other and within themselves, because they have been taught to hate the image of the other projected onto themselves.” (118) That is, within the dominant power structure, women are divided from other women as illustrated in Betty’s isolation from her mother Maud, the governess Ellen, and the visiting widow Mrs. Similarly, Africans are divided from other Africans as illustrated in the servant Joshua’s rejection of his own family as “bad” people.Played out against the backdrop of colonial Africa in the Victorian period, the third scene lies at the heart of this act and its structural centrality reflects its thematic centrality.In this scene, the natives are flogged for disobedience and afterwards Clive proposes cool drinks on the veranda.However, she concedes that this is the case insofar as one enacts a gendered identity on the surface of the body through a stylized repetition of acts.Moreover, this must, by definition, intersect with other identity categories such as race and nation, which theorists such as Henry Louis Gates, Jr.The second threat to Clive’s identity takes the form of the feminine Other, or female sexuality, and he challenges Betty about her attraction to visiting explorer Harry Bagley.Clive’s depiction of female sexuality has strong resonances with his depiction of the colonial Other: “We must fight against it.by David Henry Hwang are ultimately essentialist or anti-essentialist, accentuating or disavowing difference.It argues that both plays are successfully anti-essentialist by examining the discursive relationship between categories of gendered, racial and national identity.


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