M. Butterfly

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M. Butterfly
David Henry Hwang's play ‘M. Butterfly' is about a French diplomat Rene Gallimard who is in love with Chinese opera star, Song Liling; who deceives him by hiding the fact that she is a man and also a spy of Chinese government. One of the main characters of the play is Song and she is the material for desire for Gallimard. This desire of Gallimard to possess Song is a great example of materialism. The play also explains the concepts of feminism, cultural context, metaphor, dramatic structure and verbal irony. Song is described as a young, beautiful and delicate Asian woman. Several times in the play, she has been described as ‘A perfect women.' In the play, she is described more as an object to be possessed. Song is referred as a ‘Butterfly' and also as a ‘Little flower' by Gallimard. Butterfly and flower are delicate and beautiful, so is Song. This physical quality of butterfly and flower are associated with Song by Gallimard. Thus, Hwang has used metaphor to describe the physical beauty of Song. Associating physical quality and also the character of a woman with flowers, birds and food objects is not new. The metaphors commonly used for women in Italy and France is one of such example. Simone de Beauoir, a French feminist writer, published in one of her work, Le Deuxieme that a picture of woman starts to flash in the mind of a man on hearing the word ‘female.' He imagines her to be a mantis, spider, a bird and also as a flavored food items. The associations are also made of females with small delicate animals like chick, kitten, and sparrow and with desserts like cheesecake, tart, sweetie pie, honey. This reflects the male oriented ideology for women in English society as well. The ideology for comparing females with animals which are small and delicate might have arisen because females are small, delicate, they can be controlled and also because man are superior to animals. Whereas, women are compared to food items like desserts and fruits because they are sweet, juicy and food can be consumed when desired or hungry. Females are also given names on their characters. A polite and gentle women are preferred as rabbits, sparrow whereas prostitutes are termed as monkey and heron. Gallimard is a western man from France in China. He is a French diplomat who is blindly in love with Song. Gallimard is married and also has an extramarital affair with more than one woman. He is a typical man who wants to dominate his wife and also his other mistresses. In reality, in the play; Song is a male and also a spy. This is disclosed by Song to Gallimard after twenty years of long affairs. His belief for eastern women and sexism makes it easy for Song to deceive him. It is believed by the oriental Asian women that the western man catches a butterfly meaning a woman, pierce its heart with a needle and leave it to survive. But, in the play, Gallimard has to pay the price for his desire of possessing Song and instead, he is pierced by Song. Though, Gallimard is the protagonist of the play, he is the one who suffers the maximum consequences of keeping a relation with Song. Some of the reason of these mishap faced by Gallimard are that he ignored to find the fact whether Song is a male or a female. He did that to live with the image of his perfect woman. Not only this, he is egoistic and he loves the feeling of enjoying power. This is reflected in many area of the play. One of the good example to explain this is when he stops going to the theater to meet Song for five weeks while she has been waiting to hear from him; and at that time he says "I felt for the first time that rush of power – the absolute power of a man." Women were always confined to satisfying the social fulfillment of the family and the society as a whole. They did not enjoy the upper social status in the society as the man from the ancient time until late 1980's. Women were often illiterate. They were not allowed to enjoy the right to receive education as the...
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