Butterfly Of Transformation
Butterflies as a symbol of change.


(permanent link) added: 2012-05-29 18:16:32 sponsor: Goldfritha edited by: spellraiser (last reply: 2012-07-10 09:59:42)

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If nothing ever changed, there would be no butterflies.
--Anonymous

Sometimes butterflies are portents of total rebirth. Sometimes they are just pretty.

And sometimes their history of metamorphisis is used to show transformations less drastic than total rebirth. (Because butterflies are also ethereal and can fly, if this is a moral transformation, it is more likely to be a Heel-Face Turn than the other way around.)

Caterpillars can also work, and bonus points for the entire transformation in story. Moths can also be used, but then you don't get Pretty Butterflies, and besides, moths are nocturnal[[hottip:*:fictionally, at least]], and you know what that means.

Super Trope of Butterfly of Death and Rebirth.

Examples

Comic Books
  • Evoked in a Marvel Comics story of the Inhumans, with one Inhuman petitioning to be exposed (re-exposed) to the mutagenic Terrigen Mists mainly because she's ugly and hoping for a better genetic draw. She emerges as a butterfly woman.
  • Vic Sage's Famous Last Words in 52 invoke this symbolism of butterflies. They are addressed to Renee and foreshadow her transformation into the new Question.

Film
  • In the book/movie The Silence of the Lambs Jame Gumb keeps butterflies or moths, and they seem to symbolize his desire to transform into a woman.
  • No actual butterflies on screen, but the hero of Kung Fu Hustle gets entirely wrapped in bandages like a cocoon, which he discards as a shell, his Chi finally unblocked and his destiny awaiting.
  • The Butterfly Effect: The main character keeps trying to change the present by fixing the past.
  • The caterpillar in Alice in Wonderland can be seen to serve this sort of symbolic function. For instance, at the end of the 2010 film, Alice has been somewhat transformed by her experiences in Wonderland, and this is symbolized by the caterpillar (called Absolem in this adapation) appearing on her shoulders in the form of a butterfly and doing a Fly-at-the-Camera Ending.

Literature
  • In Gene Stratton Porter's Freckles, Freckles watches in wonder as a Luna moth comes from its cocoon and feels deeply frustrated at his ignorance at what it is, though he knows it's not a butterfly. This causes him to ponder his ignorance, until it dawns on him that he could find out these things.
  • In Terry Pratchett's Discworld novel Making Money, Cosmo Lavish uses a caterpillar becoming a butterfly as a symbol of his own planned transformation. His sister Pucci tells him that what actually happens is a caterpillar dies and a butterfly grows out of the remains.

Live-Action TV
  • In Babylon 5, Delenn uses a butterfly-like cocoon to transform into a half-human half-minbari
  • A moth emerging from its cocoon was used in an early episode of LOST as a metaphor for Charlie weaning himself off drugs. Made very explicit by Locke.
  • In the "Bridezilla" episode of ABC's What Would You Do?, a woman asks her bridesmaids to wear purple dresses to which she has appended butterfly wings, as a symbol of transformation through her marriage.

Music
  • Marilyn Manson's Antichrist Superstar album is a narrative about a child's transformation into the antichrist (/a controversial rock star). The song cycle is broken into three parts according to the life cycle of an insect, and the album art depicts him in stylised versions of all three stages, including one with a set of wings.

Tabletop RPG
  • 1st Edition Dungeons & Dragons
    • Player's Handbook. The Polymorph Other spell changed a creature into another type of creature. Its material component was a caterpillar cocoon.
    • Oriental Adventures supplement. The Force Shapechange spell caused shapechangers to shift to their alternate form. The spell's material component was a butterfly cocoon.

Video Games
  • In the Persona series, the golden butterfly is symbolic of Philemon, the diety that allows the heroes to tap into their Personas.

Visual Novel
  • Butterfly symbolism is used extensively by a revolutionary group in Culpa Innata.

Web Comics
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