M. Butterfly Quotes


“I submit.”

Act 2, scene 6

René uses Song’s shame to construct his sexual fantasy. René sexualizes shame. Shame as well as the body becomes a gift and a performance of submissiveness. Upon René’s demand for Song to strip, Song placates René’s desire, after realizing that it is her submission that excites René. René’s desire to see Song’s naked body is interpreted as a lust for submission rather than a lust for her physical nakedness.

"it’s ridiculously funny that I’ve wasted so much time on just a man!”

Act 3, scene 2

The use of the word “[waste]” to describe their time spent together denotes a complete and utter rejection of Song. The phrase “just a man” diminishes not only Song but also men, characterizing them as creatures unworthy of love. René does not reference Song’s role as a spy but is only his sex as a reason for being unworthy, suggesting that Song’s masculinity is what René feels betrayed by.

"Not a boy, but an innocent young schoolgirl, waiting to learn her lessons."

Act 1, scene 3

The word “young,” “innocent” as well as the invocation of a “schoolgirl” equates René’s ideal romantic relationship to be one which grants him power. The layering of the words “young” and “innocent” likens their relationship as pedophilic in nature, perverts their relationship as well as emphasizes René’s depravity.

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