M. Butterfly Review: An Academic Essay


M. Butterfly Text Analysis: Follow the following instructions You don’t need to read all the text; just choose what you are interested in or want to write about. The sample essay I sent to you will be a very good example. When you use the reference from the article “M.butterfly,” please mark on which page […]

M. Butterfly Review

M. Butterfly is a composition written by David Henry Hwang. It is based on the relationship between an opera singer named Song Liling and a French diplomat, Rene Gallimard. The main character Rene falls in love with the singer only to discover later that she is a man, and the first act ends with him returning to France heartbroken (Hwang 69; Hwang 92). Later, Song moves to France to resume the affair; they continue the relationship for 20 years until Gallimard is arrested for treason. The play depicts the main character’s distorted and disorderly recollection of events as he struggles with the fact that the woman he perceived to be perfect was a man and had only come back to him to spy for his country. Although the storyline’s different metaphors denote various associations with each symbol in the play, it all comes down to the imagery portraying the ostensibly Asian culture yielding despotic Western imperialism (Hwang 17).

I found the story’s plot tragic, with the main character’s hope despondent and bordering on despair. Gallimard’s obsession with the ideal “butterfly” leads him to self-delusion that is only paralleled by his disappointment at the betrayal. Consequently, when his fantasy bubble pops, he becomes so overwhelmed that it leads to suicide (Hwang 93). In the case of Song, I can classify her as calculative and manipulative, and her betrayal is typical of the spying profession. On the other hand, the main character stereotyping Asian women as obedient and submissive makes him prone to fall into her trap; arguably, this correlates to the society we live in, whereby people characterize others through colour, race, or creed with disregard to personality. Summing it up, I feel the author correctly presents how cultural factors play a part in stereotyping other people’s behaviour while digging down to the human soul to explore the tragedy brought about by the deepest and darkest basic instincts and emotions formed by the societal expectations, gender relations, and realism. In my opinion, the author successfully manages to take a composite theme and give it a reasonable and thought-provoking conclusion.

In Act 1, scene 6, the conversation between Gallimard and Song is marked with Western ideologies and stereotyping; this happens right after the former tells the latter that she is convincing in her play’s role, and she replies that it was her first time. Gallimard explains that it was the first time he saw the composition’s beauty. According to Song’s comment, the beauty of the story lies in the fact that the Asian woman murdered herself for the love of a western man (Hwang 17). Her counterfactual only shows that Oriental women have dreams, aspirations, and needs just like western women. Later, Song tells Gallimard that this was the last time she would perform the play, suggesting in turn that he should go to the “real theater” at Peking Opera (Hwang 17). Song ends the conversation and walks away; the main character is surprised by her action admitting that he had fantasized about “protecting her in my large Western arms” (Hwang 17). This scene continues to perpetuate Gallimard’s expectation of Asian women, expecting her to be more ingratiating and modest than other women. This passage is one of the most crucial in the play as it does not occur to him throughout the conversation that he is dealing with an intelligent woman capable of sound reasoning; this leads to the main character’s vulnerability through stereotyping Asian women, which ultimately leads to his betrayal. The concept of the conversation sets the stage for a parallel to Madame Butterfly’s Oriental women representation, which the main character had admired in his life, only this time, the roles were reversed through his betrayal and, finally, suicide (Hwang 93). As for imagery, the image created by Song on the role reversal with the victim being a western woman, and Gallimard’s hesitation in affirming that the role was interchangeable, only reinforces the latter’s society’s perception of a Western superiority complex. The passage’s language is informal in its setting, with its style resonating with emotional and personal undertones, especially with Song. On the other hand, Gallimard’s speech was dominated by apprehension and preconceived ideologies. This passage is crucial as it brings out the main character’s stereotype; arguably, although he romanticizes the tragedy that happened to the  Oriental woman in Madame Butterfly’s play, the reenactment of a similar scenario was about to happen to him as the victim before the end of the composition that can only be regarded as poetic justice.


Works Cited

Hwang, David. M. butterfly. Dramatists Play Service Inc, 1988.

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Published On: 09-05-2017

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