During their weekend affair in Fatal Attraction, Dan Gallagher and Alex Forrest are listening to music from the opera Madame Butterfly. Dan tells Alex a story about the first time that he saw the opera.

Dan: My father, he took me to the old Met. I was five years old.

Alex: Did it make sense?

Dan: I got most of it. There was this US sailor settin' up house with this Japanese lady. That was all fine, but in the final act, after he left her, my father told me that she's gonna kill herself. I was terrified. I was, I climbed underneath my chair.

Later that evening, when Dan gets out of bed after sex, Alex protests that she doesn't want him to leave. Alex then proceeds to slit her wrists while Dan is still there in some sort of desperate attempt to prevent him from leaving.

Was Alex's suicide attempt the reason behind the earlier Madame Butterfly dialogue? I am unfamiliar with the story of Madame Butterfly, other than Dan's recollection of it. Are there other symbolic references to Madame Butterfly throughout the movie?

1 Answer 1


Yes. There are several symbolic references to Madame Butterfly throughout this movie.

  • White:

Fatal Attraction: Alex Forrest's apartment is decorated in monochromatic white. Alex's dress in the final scene is white.

Madame Butterfly: Cio-Cio San demands a dress of pure white. When she kills herself, she is wearing a white veil.

  • Japanese influence:

Fatal Attraction: Dan and Alex meet at a Japanese themed party.

Madame Butterfly: Cio-Cio San is Japanese. The story is set in Japan.

  • House Hunting:

Fatal Attraction: Dan and Beth Gallagher go house hunting and eventually purchase a house in the country.

Madame Butterfly: Pinkerton inspects a new home to move into.

  • Music:

There is no comparison to be made here. This is an actual nod to Madame Butterfly. Dan and Alex are listening to music from the opera while preparing dinner. Dan and Alex discuss a scene from the opera in detail and both agree that it is their favorite opera. NOTE: Alex attempts suicide on the same night that her and Dan discuss the suicide in Madame Butterfly while the Opera music is playing in the background.

  • Suicide: The ending is the most obvious Madame Butterfly reference.

Fatal Attraction: In the original ending of the movie, Alex uses a kitchen knife that has Dan's fingerprints on it and she slits her own throat planning to frame him for her death. (music from Madame Butterfly is playing as she does this)

Madame Butterfly: Cio-Cio San stabs herself in the heart, killing herself assuring that her ex-husband will be the first one to see her death.

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