How M. Butterfly Uses The Art Of Illusion To Foster Stereotypes Among Its Main Characters.

1394 words - 6 pages

Throughout human history, societies have divided members into varying groups based on stereotypes-- using simplified images to bring special meaning to traits held in common by members of each group. These stereotypes are usually learned behavior and are spoon-fed to families and communities as they are passed down from one generation to the next. However, each individual must make the personal choice whether or not to incorporate these impressions into their own belief system.Stereotypes are more often negative than positive and are not always based on fact, but rather on perceptions and illusions. Illusions, on the other hand, are a form of deception, seen as something objectively existing in such a way as to cause misinterpretation of its actual nature. As a result, illusions can generate a sense of mystery, excitement, and anticipation for the people who harbor them.Unlike stereotypes, illusions are created or interpreted by the limits of our own imagination, and we choose whether or not to become swayed by our fantasies. Stereotyping can in some cases create illusions, as is the case in M. Butterfly, where Gallimard was blinded by his Western male fantasies about the submissive nature and tendencies of Asian women.(Stratton Pg1)Most people probably like to think of themselves as being impartial, unaffected by the conventionalized ideas that make up many of the stereotypes they see aroundFleck 2them. However, stereotypical thinking plays a very powerful role in our perceptions and dealings with people of other cultures--even more so, perhaps, than we care to admit. Maybe stereotypes are so persistent because they prove useful, providing shortcuts to our thinking in areas where we are unsure of ourselves, or skeptical about how we should think concerning a given situation.Stereotypes occasionally creep into our lives in unexpected ways, and are even perpetuated in our literature, paintings, films, music and other art forms. We see examples of this in movies and television programming, which throughout the years have influenced our perceptions about Asians in both positive and negative ways.(Major Pg 3)Hollywood has a long history of portraying Asian women as exotic, and they also are often portrayed as erotic, sensual and overly sexual. Examples of these stereotypes can be seen in movies like Sayonara, Walk Like a Dragon, Flower Drum Song, and The World of Suzy Wong. In each case, oriental women are depicted as assuming a sexual allure and are viewed as both mysterious and subservient. These images portrayed by the media moguls in Hollywood have no doubt helped endorse already existing stereotypes in mainstream society.The combination of quiet submission and overt sexuality as portrayed in M. Butterfly is further evidence of this characterization. (Hicks pg 2) In this play, Gallimard feeds his fantasy of being with an Asian woman with artful guile, his illusion inspired by Asian stereotypes. When asked if he had ever seen his girlfriend naked,...

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