Posted: August 12th, 2013






Said’s works define Orientalism to be a style of regularized vision, writing and study that is dominated by the very important views and ideological biases supposedly suited to the Orient. The Orient is a system created for people from the West to distinguish them from other groups they consider inferior. He states that the rejection of Orientalism will lead to removal of the line between “The West” and “The Others” (This is considered the inferior group by West). He further says that the abolition of oriental thinking will lead to a better history of the whole world, because of the interaction of different people from all areas. This is because people will be more open-minded and not fixed to writings and studies from their nations and regions. Puccini’s libretto, Madam Butterfly: The Japanese tragedy seems to support Said’s theory and ideas about Orientalism. In act one; there is a preparation for a wedding ceremony. It seems the main character, Pinkerton, who is a Lieutenant in the United States Navy, is preparing to get married to Butterfly. It is all pomp, glory as everything has been prepared, and it is just moments before the two characters get married. There is a scene, whereby one of the characters by the name Sharpless, who is the Consul at Nagasaki, asks Pinkerton if he is sure that he is in love with his soon-to-be bride considering that she is Japanese. Pinkerton affirms that he loves her despite her background, and is ready to live a happy life with her.

From this scene, Orientalism is seen to have been rejected by the fact that, Pinkerton who comes from the USA, a nation that is among the most superior countries in the world, is ready and willing to wed a young woman from Japan. This woman is considered to come from not only a lowly country but also a poor background. However, the lieutenant is willing and ready to love, care for her and provide all that she needs. He even goes as far as finding maidens who will be responsible for her. This scene shows the coming together of people from the West and the “Others”, which is a clear indication of the gap between these two groups being closed. In this case, Butterfly who is from Japan is symbolic of the “Others” and Pinkerton who is from the US is a representation of the “West”. The union of these two people will bring an exchange of culture, ideas, and historical experiences, just to name a few. This will cause a balance to be between these two groups, leading to equity among them. It will also lead to respect developing among them, as their views about each other will change. This will happen because, through the interaction the two groups will not base their conclusions on what they had read or been told. They will instead have concrete information and hence a different perception. It will also lead to a people of mixed races and backgrounds to be born. A generation, which does not feel it is superior to the other. This libretto is therefore the best example to be used to prove Said’s view and ideas about Orientalism and even acts as an example of how it can be abolished.




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