M. Butterfly

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A friend from Gallimard’s youth. Marc is unapologetically lascivious and encourages Gallimard to take sexual advantage of the women around him without regard for their feelings or even their consent. Marc represents unfettered masculine sexuality in Gallimard’s mind, and Gallimard thinks of him whenever he struggles with questions of sexual ethics and desire. Marc plays Sharpless, a sensitive American diplomat, in the reenactment of Puccini’s Madame Butterfly.

Marc Quotes in M. Butterfly

The M. Butterfly quotes below are all either spoken by Marc or refer to Marc . For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Orientalism, Imperialism, and Cultural Conflict Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Plume edition of M. Butterfly published in 1989.
Act 1, Scene 9 Quotes

It’s an old story. It’s in our blood. They fear us, Rene. Their women fear us. And their men — their men hate us. And you know something? They are all correct.

Related Characters: Marc (speaker), Rene Gallimard, Song Liling
Page Number: 25
Explanation and Analysis:

After Gallimard first sees Song in performance at the opera, Marc visits him in a dream. In this dream, he encourages Gallimard to pursue Song, since she is the "prize" that he has supposedly deserved all of his life. In this quote, Marc emphasizes the idea that Song is powerless to Gallimard's desires because she is a Chinese woman and he is a French man. 

Though Gallimard has been faithful to Helga thus far in their eight-year marriage, he actively notes that he "settled" for her, and still wishes he could have the woman of his fantasies. Song, it seems, could be just that woman--beautiful, and submissive to his whims and wants. Gallimard has felt cheated his entire life because he has not been the masculine, dominating person that stereotypically commands the attention and desires of beautiful women. In this quote, Marc (here representing Gallimard's subconscious, as he speaks to Gallimard in a dream) urges Gallimard to seize what is rightfully his: a beautiful woman. He justifies this sentiment by saying that as a Western man, he can take whatever he wants because he is intrinsically more powerful than Easterners, whether men or women--essentially, sexual colonialism. Just as in Madame Butterfly, Gallimard convinces himself that by pursuing and conquering Song, he is simply playing out a part written for him in the stars.

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Act 2, Scene 11 Quotes

This is the ultimate cruelty, isn’t it? That I can talk and talk and to anyone listening, it’s only air — too rich a diet to be swallowed by a mundane world. Why can’t anyone understand? That in China, I once loved, and was loved by, the Perfect Woman.

Related Characters: Rene Gallimard (speaker), Song Liling , Marc
Page Number: 76
Explanation and Analysis:

In Gallimard's fantasy, Marc and Gallimard share a drink in his cell. Gallimard complains to Marc of the inadequacies of the West compared to the East, and Marc tells him to stop complaining. In this quote, Gallimard tells the audience how difficult it is to have experienced something so profound, and to have no one to share it with.

Gallimard is so intent on making others see how special is his experience with Song--The Perfect Woman--because, by proxy, it means that he, too, is special. Marc, by contrast, is a womanizing playboy who has always seemed special in Gallimard's eyes because he seems to have conquered the masculine stereotypes, and by extension, women, without the agony that Gallimard has endured. Gallimard wants very badly for society to acknowledge his and Song's love, because it will serve to reinforce his participation in the masculinity he believes he is supposed to embody. By saying that Song is not who she claimed to be, Gallimard, by extension, is not who he believes himself to be. 

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Marc Character Timeline in M. Butterfly

The timeline below shows where the character Marc appears in M. Butterfly. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1, Scene 3
Orientalism, Imperialism, and Cultural Conflict Theme Icon
Memory, Imagination, and Self-Deception Theme Icon
...opera. Stage directions note that Sharpless should be played by the same actor who plays Marc, a character audiences have not yet met. (full context)
Orientalism, Imperialism, and Cultural Conflict Theme Icon
Memory, Imagination, and Self-Deception Theme Icon
Love and Cruelty Theme Icon
Playing the roles of Pinkerton and Sharpless, Gallimard and Marc paraphrase a conversation from Puccini’s opera. While the opera is written in elegant, early twentieth-century... (full context)
Memory, Imagination, and Self-Deception Theme Icon
Love and Cruelty Theme Icon
Gallimard, speaking as himself again, introduces the actor playing Sharpless as Marc, his friend from school. In Puccini’s opera, Gallimard notes, Sharpless provides a sensitive and level-headed... (full context)
Act 1, Scene 4
Memory, Imagination, and Self-Deception Theme Icon
Gallimard flashes back to 1947, when he and Marc were still young men studying at the Ecole Nationale, a French university in Aix-en-Provence. Marc... (full context)
Femininity and Male Ego Theme Icon
Love and Cruelty Theme Icon
Gallimard tells Marc that making advances toward women always makes him nervous, because he is afraid of being... (full context)
Act 1, Scene 5
Femininity and Male Ego Theme Icon
Love and Cruelty Theme Icon
Marc reappears, playing the role of Sharpless. He has been sent to tell Butterfly that Pinkerton... (full context)
Act 1, Scene 9
Femininity and Male Ego Theme Icon
Memory, Imagination, and Self-Deception Theme Icon
Marc appears in Gallimard’s dreams that night. He is jubilant, toasting Gallimard with expensive wine and... (full context)
Femininity and Male Ego Theme Icon
Love and Cruelty Theme Icon
Gallimard insists a romance with Song is impossible because he is a foreigner. Marc tells Gallimard that the taboo nature of the relationship will draw Song to him. He... (full context)
Femininity and Male Ego Theme Icon
Song appears onstage, wearing a sheer robe. Marc says Gallimard has spent his entire life waiting for the love of a beautiful woman.... (full context)
Act 1, Scene 11
Memory, Imagination, and Self-Deception Theme Icon
Marc, dressed as a bureaucrat, appears onstage next to Gallimard. He is holding a stack of... (full context)
Femininity and Male Ego Theme Icon
Memory, Imagination, and Self-Deception Theme Icon
Marc asks whether Gallimard remembers a girl named Isabelle. It turns out that this girl was... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 11
Memory, Imagination, and Self-Deception Theme Icon
Marc appears onstage, holding two drinks. Gallimard begins to tell him about the magnificent life he... (full context)