Preview
Preview

David Henry Hwang's M. Butterfly and Aime Cesaire's A Tempest as Examples of Postcolonial Drama

No Works Cited
Length: 1748 words (5 double-spaced pages)
Rating: Blue      
Open Document
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

In the closing lines of M. Butterfly, Gallimard, the hapless French diplomat/accountant turned spy, says, "I have a vision. Of the Orient" (92). At the moment he is speaking of his remaining belief that there are beautiful women, as he thought his "Butterfly" was, but it is indicative of the colonial impulse. Colonization becomes possible because a society can characterize another society in ways that make colonization seem like a positive endeavor. As Said notes, the characterization of other cultures, such as the Orient or Africa, is carried out in the popular realm through works of art, literature and drama. Indeed, books, plays, poems and stories are just a few of the forms used to indoctrinate the masses of a colonizing nation with the rationale and impulse to colonize.

As if to underscore this point, one way to rebel against colonization is to warp the tools of the colonizer to support the cause of liberation. The strategy seems to be especially popular in drama, where there are two stellar examples of postcolonial literature, A Tempest by Aime Cesaire and M. Butterfly by David Henry Hwang. These plays are rewritten versions of Shakespeare's The Tempest and Puccini's opera, Madame Butterfly, respectively, and retain the same characters and basic plot elements. Both Shakespeare's and Puccini's works helped create symbols of other cultures - Caliban is a black devil, and Cio-Cio San is the meek and beautiful "Butterfly." These characterizations have become stereotypes in Western culture, and formed, or at least mirrored, the rationale for colonization.

To make these pieces work against the notion of colonization, Cesaire and Hwang must significantly alter the content. They do so, and they also eschew mimicking the styl...


... middle of paper ...


..., and the victories represented in these plays are not large scale liberation, so it is even more difficult to see the correct path.

The stories we tell each other make up our world. Just as the Nick Redstocking stories created a Native American dialect that never existed, The Tempest and Madame Butterfly fabricated characters that came to stand as symbols of entire cultures. The power of stories is especially evident when we look at the role our art and literature has played in imperialism. Fanon would say the way to overthrow a physically present governing force is through violence. Hwang and Cesaire do a similar violence to the pieces that keep us imprisoned in false notions of the other. It is only through taking over these works, appropriating and reconstructing them, that we can be psychologically liberated from the rationale and impulses of the colonizer.


Click the button above to view the complete essay, speech, term paper, or research paper








This essay is 100% guaranteed.


Title Length Color Rating  
The Misunderstood Message of Aime Cesaire's A Tempest Essay examples - The Misunderstood Message of Aime Cesaire's A Tempest         A Tempest, by Aime Cesaire, has been the center of controversy for over twenty years now.  The argument is not concerning whether the play has substance, or whether its themes are too racy; the criticism is about its parallel to another work.  The work in question is that of The Tempest by William Shakespeare.  Cesaire has been bluntly accused of mirroring, misrepresenting, and misinterpreting Shakespeare's last play.  I challenge these critics to research Cesaire and his works, rather than pick apart this most insightful play.  It is pertinent to understand a few key ideas when examining A Tempest because Cesaire was not attem...   [tags: Tempest essays Cesaire ]
:: 6 Works Cited
1966 words
(5.6 pages)
Powerful Essays [preview]
M. Butterfly Essay - At the end of the play M. Butterfly, a jailed French diplomat turned spy named Gallimard says, "There is a vision of the Orient that I have" (Hwang 3.3.7). In that moment he is implying that there are still beautiful women, as he thought his "Butterfly" was. This is suggestive of the colonial appeal. Colonization is made possible by one society characterizing another in a way that makes it seem like a good idea. The characterization of these cultures, such as the Orient or Africa, is carried out through literature, works of art, and drama....   [tags: Literary Analysis, David Henry Hwang] 1667 words
(4.8 pages)
Better Essays [preview]
tempcolon Comparing Language in Shakespeare's Tempest and Aime Cesaire's A Tempest - Colonial Language in Shakespeare's The Tempest and Aime Cesaire's A Tempest       Language and literature are the most subtle and seductive tools of domination. They gradually shape thoughts and attitudes on an almost subconscious level. Perhaps Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak states this condition most succinctly in her essay "The Burden of English" when she writes, "Literature buys your assent in an almost clandestine way...for good or ill, as medicine or poison, perhaps always a bit of both"(137)....   [tags: comparison compare contrast essays]
:: 4 Works Cited
887 words
(2.5 pages)
Better Essays [preview]
Aime Cesaire's A Tempest Clarifies Shakespeare's The Tempest Essay examples - Cesaire's A Tempest Clarifies Shakespeare's The Tempest       "Negritude, originally a literary and ideological movement of French-speaking black intellectuals, reflects an important and comprehensive reaction to the colonial situation of European colonization" (Carlberg).  This movement, which influenced Africans as well as blacks around the world, specifically rejects the political, social, and moral domination of the West.   Leopold Senghor, Leon Damas, and Aime Cesaire are the three pioneers of the revolution.  The founder who expresses his ideas more broadly, though, is Cesaire, who uses literary works to express his viewpoint on colonization.  An excellent example of such a tactic i...   [tags: Tempest essays]
:: 6 Works Cited
1684 words
(4.8 pages)
Powerful Essays [preview]
Essay on Comparing Aime Cesaire's A Tempest and Shakespeare's The Tempest - Comparing A Tempest and The Tempest       William Shakespeare wrote The Tempest, arguably his finest work, on the eve of European colonization of the New World in 1611 (Hollander and Kermode 445-46). As a result, common European ideas about the New World in the early 1600s are alluded to throughout the play (446). Through the propagandistic writings of explorers like Captain John Smith, who authored a sensational and unsubstantiated account of his dramatic rescue from death at the hands of Indians by the Indian chiefís beautiful daughter, Pocahontas, many Europeans developed an interest in the inhabitants of the New World (Smith 24-25)....   [tags: comparison compare contrast essays]
:: 14 Works Cited
2938 words
(8.4 pages)
Powerful Essays [preview]
tempcolon Confronting Colonialism and Imperialism in Aime Cesaire's A Tempest - Confronting Colonialism in A Tempest     A Tempest by Aime Cesaire is an attempt to confront and rewrite the idea of colonialism as presented in Shakespeare’s The Tempest.  He is successful at this attempt by changing the point of view of the story.  Cesaire transforms the characters and transposes the scenes to reveal Shakespeare’s Prospero as the exploitative European power and Caliban and Ariel as the exploited natives.  Cesaire’s A Tempest is an effective response to Shakespeare’s The Tempest because he interprets it from the perspective of the colonized and raises a conflict with Shakespeare as an icon of the literary canon....   [tags: Tempest essays]
:: 8 Works Cited
1397 words
(4 pages)
Powerful Essays [preview]
Essay on Comparing Power in Shakespeare's Tempest and Aime Cesaire's A Tempest - Power in Shakespeare's Tempest and Césaire's A Tempest       Power is defined as the possession of control, authority, or influence over others.  In William Shakespeare's The Tempest and Aimé Césaire's A Tempest, power is a key element in the relationships that exist between characters.  As Caliban and Prospero battle for dominance over the island, Miranda finds that she holds a certain power of her own as she matures from an innocent youth to a sensual, strong-headed young woman.  Seen by some as a victim of Prospero's need to control, yet by others as both content and charming, it is that transformation that influences those about her and guides her growth into adulthood.  Miranda is an...   [tags: compare and contrast essay examples]
:: 4 Works Cited
1286 words
(3.7 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Postcolonial Advancements Essay - From the 17th through 20th centuries Western Empires experienced increased ascendency, a result of industrial, technological, and medical advancements. The aggregation of these innovations fostered territorial domination in areas previously inaccessible. The expropriation and commodification of health care and biomedicine occurred under the imperial regime. Once global conflict brought the colonial era to an end, a human rights regime was introduced. Postcolonial health’s bureaucracies were ideologically distinct from previous hegemons, yet their approaches were comparable....   [tags: Industrial, Technological, Medical] 1033 words
(3 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Henry Ford Essay - When Henry Ford was born on June 30th, 1863, neither him nor anyone for that matter, knew what an important role he would take in the future of mankind. Ford saw his first car when he was 12. He and his father where riding into Detroit at the time. At that moment, he knew what he wanted to do with his life: he wanted to make a difference in the automobile industry. Through out his life, he achieved this in an extraordinary way. That is why he will always be remembered in everyone’s heart. Whenever you drive down the road in your car, you can thank all of it to Henry Ford....   [tags: Henry Ford Essays] 1891 words
(5.4 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Henry IV Essay - Free Essay on Henry IV Sleep is the most important part of a normal life, a refuge from the withering blast of daily activities. King Henry seeks shelter in blissful oblivion from the overwhelming responsibilities of his status, but fails to achieve escape because of his flurrying thoughts. His carefully considered word choice, specifically chosen imagery and well-constructed syntax show that he is not lacking rest because of natural causes, but instead denies himself by worrying about his problems....   [tags: Henry IV Henry V Essays] 672 words
(1.9 pages)
Better Essays [preview]