Play Analysis: Madame Butterfly

Topics: Gender, Woman, Female Pages: 2 (766 words) Published: May 2, 2010
Ali Appelbaum
WGST 199-01
Professor Uman
March 16, 2008
Society puts a strong focus on individuals who experience the act of cross-dressing to create an identity for themselves. The act of cross-dressing helps a person to feel comfortable with themselves because they are able to gain a sense of independence, confidence, and individuality. In the play M. Butterfly, by David Henry Hwang, constructing an identity is made through the character Song. By looking at Song’s appearance in M. Butterfly, we can see that clothing and disguise constructs an identity. The play, M. Butterfly uses the character Song to show the audience how cross-dressing is common, and can make one’s personality. Song cross-dresses from an Asian male, to an Asian female. Throughout the play Song plays the role of a female but expresses herself in a more confident, and independent way as an Asian female. This is because Song has had a gender cross to a women, she is able to demonstrate these qualities in her new identity she has formed. M. Butterfly is about a French diplomat, Gallimard and his love attraction for Song. Gallimard feels as though he’s never been in love, and has a hard time relating to women, until Song comes along. Song, playing the romantic role of Gallimard’s lover takes charge without Gallimard realizing a male was really wooing him the whole time. Song possesses traits of a female, which gives her confidence to pursue her relationship with Gallimard until he’s fallen in love. In the end, Song reveals herself for the man she is, but continues to act with more confidence and independence as a woman than as a man. In the play, you can see that disguise constructs an identity through the character Song. During a scene, Gallimard comments on Song’s feminine appearance and the other women he see’s in China. Song responds to Gallimard, “Please. Hard as I try to be modern, to speak like a man, to hold a Western woman’s strong face up to my own… in the end, I fail....
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