M. Butterfly by David Hwang

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M. Butterfly by David Henry Hwang exemplifies the beliefs the Western world has over the East. Politically, the West believes they can be a dominating force by intervening in all Eastern affairs through the use of weapons. Socially, Western cultures and traditions have entered the Eastern world, impacting the daily lives of the Chinese people. The white man has displayed inappropriate behavior over the traditional oriental woman by controlling every aspect of her life. In Hwang’s M. Butterfly, there is an evident struggle between the dominator and those that are being dominated on a political and social level, with an additional conflict between gender roles.

The prevalence of Western imperialism in China during the 1960s, completely altered and transformed the lives of the old cultured Chinese. However, during the reign of Communist Mao Zedong and the initiation of the Cultural Revolution, the pleasures of the foreign, western world were eliminated. During a brief conversation in the Peking Opera, Song Liling says, “ How I wish there were even a tiny cafe to sit in. With cappuccinos, and men in tuxedos and bad expatriate jazz”. Because of this, Rene Gallimard and the audience can infer that the Chinese enjoyed the lifestyle of a Westerner such as, eating at out door cafes and attending local nightclubs. Throughout Chinese homes, there was a clash and fusion of cultures, a battle between the old and the new. In Song and Gallimard’s shared flat, located on the outskirts of Peking, China, the decor consisted of a mixture between Western furniture and Chinese antiques. Politically speaking, the Chinese only want to be correlated with the Western country that has the most dominance and control in the world. As the newly appointed vice-counsel for the French embassy, Gallimard has the duty to head the revamped intelligence division. Acting as the “eyes and ears” for the French embassy, it is Gallimard’s responsibility to convey the opinions and desires of the...
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