M Butterfly Essays

M Butterfly Essays-40
This identity is constructed in opposition to Betty’s femininity, as well as Joshua’s colonized nationality and black African race.Similarly in , Gallimard’s masculinity is intrinsic to his French nationality and Caucasian race, defined in opposition to Song’s femininity, Chinese nationality and Asian race.However, he moves away saying “Don’t touch me.” (35) This suggests that the role of white English patriarch – Edward’s social destiny – is not one he is altogether comfortable with.

This identity is constructed in opposition to Betty’s femininity, as well as Joshua’s colonized nationality and black African race.

As everyone makes their way outside, he draws his wife Betty back.

In his depiction here of the colonial Other and the feminine Other, Clive constructs his identity as white colonial administrator and Thus, while the colonial Other is “wild,” “dangerous” and “implacable,” British identity is established in opposition as naturally having more humanity, rationality and civilization.

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.

This occurs in much the same way as masculinity exerts power over femininity.

Whereas according to Gates, race refers to the identity which is discursively produced through the body’s genealogy and/or biological features, such as skin colour and facial characteristics.Furthermore, the cross-casting of both Betty and Joshua shows how these characters are conflicted, not only in relation to other women and other Africans, but also within themselves.Above all, there is a tension between Joshua as the colonial Other and Betty as the feminine Other.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.The purpose of this fragmentation is to prevent an internal coalition against the white, British, patriarchal power structure embodied in Clive.(Howe-Kritzer 118) Of course, it was Joshua who informed Clive that he had seen Betty and Harry Bagley kissing.The purpose of this chapter is to examine intersections of gendered, racial and national identity in Caryl Churchill’s It must be noted from the outset that concepts of race and nation are closely interwoven in these plays.However, according to Said, nation refers to the set of relations whereby one discursively produced historical and geographical entity exerts power over another.This, perhaps, is what is on Betty’s mind when she sees Joshua after her confrontation with Clive, and orders him to fetch her some blue thread from her sewing box.His response however, takes the form of a misogynistic slur on female sexuality: “You’ve got legs under that skirt,” he tells Betty, “And more than legs.” (35) It seems that the power struggle between black masculinity and white femininity is at an impasse until Edward intervenes on behalf of his mother: A delighted Betty declares Edward “wonderful” and goes to embrace him.


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