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Orientalism Essay

1160 words - 5 pages

Western Imperialism and Submissive Oriental Stereotypes
Orientalism, a term coined by Professor Edward Said, is said to be the act of viewing people of Arabic or Asian descent through western lens of Western Imperialism. Orientalist stereotypes have long been perpetuated overtime through many mediums such as television, books, art, music, film, and every day social interactions. These mediums illustrate a distorted image of what and who Asians/Asian Americans really are. Imperialism is a mindset that is an unequal and territorial relationship, usually asserting one’s dominance over another. Western imperialism plays a large role in perpetuating oriental stereotype that the people, ...view middle of the document...

He provided her with an ultimatum that she take on this religion, in which he presented it as a “Western plan of salvation. ”
Pinkerton stripped Cho-Cho-San of her Japanese identity and family and developed her with a sense of irony. This is evident when Cho-Cho names her child Trouble:
“she named the baby, when it came, Trouble. …. She was quite sure he would like the way she had named him Trouble -- meaning joy.”
Cho-Cho-San did not fully understand Pinkerton and her naivety did now allow her to see through Pinkerton’s deceit. Long’s story of Madame Butterfly is satirical because the whole story Cho-Cho-San is ridiculed as naïve. She speaks with very broken English accent and the story is revolved around Pinkerton even though he is not present for most of the story.
David Henry Hwang attempts to challenge the Orientalist and gendered stereotypes in his play M. Butterfly by paralleling Cho-Cho-San and B.F. Pinkerton to Song Liling, a Chinese spy who disguises as an opera singer, and Rene Gallimard, a French diplomat. Pinkerton is described as superior to Cho-Cho-San, “In Madame Butterfly, Cio-Cio-San fears that the Western man who catches a butterfly will pierce its heart with a needle, then leave it to perish.” To that parallel Gallimard was also seen as the superior western/male in this play for most of the play until it is revealed that the deceiver is actually the Oriental “woman”, Song. “I knew somewhere that my happiness was temporary, my love a deception…. I’m a man who loved a woman created by a man. Everthing else – simply falls short.” By the end of the play it may seem that David Henry Hwang successfully challenges the perpetuation of Western Imperialism and gendered Oriental stereotypes, but in the reversal of the character roles and the deception, Hwang still perpetuates that same Western superiority that he sought to challenge from Madame Butterfly. We can agree that Pinkerton was obviously the superior one who deceived both his Japanese wife, Cho-Cho-San, and his American wife. Pinkerton stripped Cho-Cho-San of her identity and toyed with her emotions by promising that he would return to her. Now in the case of M.Butterfly Hwang attempts to victimize Gallinard by having him, the western male, be deceived by the Chinese/oriental “female” when he tricks him for twenty years of his life making him believe that he was in love with a woman. His attempt fails at challenging these stereotypes because even though Song...

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