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CIO-CIO San From Madame Butterfly, Book Review Example

Pages: 1

Words: 292

Book Review

To the extent that the concept of geisha is based on a clear hierarchy of gender roles, above all defined by the subservience of the female to the male, there are certain aspects in which Cio-Cio San from Madame Butterfly both fits this concept and transgresses it. For example, Cio-Cio San marries the American Pinkerton above all due to the wishes of her family and Pinkerton’s desire to have a Japanese wife during his stay in Japan. In this sense, Cio-Cio San fulfills the submissive role of the geisha. Another key example of this submissiveness is that Cio-Cio San also follows Pinkerton’s command when he proclaims that Cio-Cio San’s family is no longer permitted to visit her. This demonstrates the hierarchical male-female relationships of the geisha. However, Cio-Cio San is not entirely passive in the story. For example, when Pinkerton leaves, Cio-Cio San takes action, attempting to regain her husband. Here, Cio-Cio San does not merely submit to the wishes of the husband and the gender roles are thus static.

From the perspective of Pinkerton, however, all his decisions in his relationship to Cio-Cio San are made from the viewpoint of male hierarchy. For example, the only reason he takes a wife is because it is advised to him that he should have a wife for his stay in Japan. The female is essentially reduced to a possession, someone who will be discarded just as any other object when it is time for Pinkerton to leave the country. Furthermore, when Pinkerton forbids the family of Cio-Cio San to visit her, he discounts the validity of her voice and her opinion. The female is entirely passive to the male. Accordingly, for Pinkerton, Cio-Cio San remains subjugated on the basis of clearly established gender roles.

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