Literature Examined under the Diasporic Lens: Emotional Diaspora Present in Madame Butterfly


  • Doyeun Kwak Yonsei University
  • Junggyung Song Yonsei University



Diaspora studies, emotional diaspora, geographical/emotional experiences, madame butterfly.


The typical myth of a Caucasian man and an Asian woman’s romance ends with tragedy, and this story is well versed in literature including Madame Butterfly by John Luther Long. In this story, Cho-Cho San, a young Japanese girl waits patiently for her American husband who betrayed her. However, the novel contains more than such myth in the aspect that it portrays emotional diasporic experience of an individual not falling directly into conventional diaspora criteria. Traditionally, diaspora mainly revolves around the notion of a home land, senses of alienation, maladjustment and communally shared experiences in foreign land. However, with the increase in international dislocations, there is paradigm shift in defining diaspora. It does not only envelop people in geographical displacement but in emotional, situational displacements. In this study, I hope to review the point that diaspora can occur to individuals who might not be geographically apart from their home land but are emotionally displaced due to different situational circumstances, which can be termed “emotional diaspora”. In Madame Butterfly, emotional diaspora occurs in Cho-Cho San who is displaced from Japanese society and confined in the walls of Pinkerton’s house which creates a particular diasporic experience for her. Therefore, through Madame Butterfly it can be suggested that the key stone of diaspora is the emotional displacement from whichever society one is in, not only confined by home land/ foreign land segregation or communal experiences of people in the same circumstance.


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