Passing: A Thematic Approach
to Literary Analysis

Keming Liu

[April 4, 2002]

"Passing" as an Approach to Literary Analysis of David Henry Hwang’s M. Butterfly and Ang Lee’s The Wedding Banquet.

M. Butterfly
Prof. Liu showed video clips from both Puccini's Madame Butterfly and D. H. Hwang's M. Butterfly, comparing and contrasting their interweaving themes in order to illustrate her points.

Song Liling’s "Passing"

Song’s passing is a physical and visible one that serves as a means to two ends:

  • His desire to be loved as a woman
  • His resentment of the colonialist

The French Diplomat’s "Passing"

Rene Gallimard’s passing is an invisible and psychological one:

  • Psychologically, Gallimard refuses to see "her" (Song’s) penis—as a form of physical and racial castration
  • To preserve his sense of masculinity

The Wedding Banquet
The portrayal of Asian men in western media—the feminine role of the Asian man. Prof. Liu demonstrated the various aspects of passing in the world of Ang Lee's Wedding Banquet, where only the viewer knows the whole truth behind each character.






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