M. Butterfly And now to the vapid task of writing this paper on this perplexing play. Or is it a perplexing task of a vapid play? Either way, here it is.
A couple of weeks ago, I was sitting around the house channel surfing and I happened upon "Maury" and the subject was "Am I a Man or a Woman?" There were several, um, 'contestants' all dressed up as women and the audience was to decide whether they were a man or a woman. An easy task, right? There's an Adam's Apple or a lower voice, too many muscles or bulges where there shouldn't be. And 99 percent of time you guess right, but there's always that one percent. They magically tape somethings in and others up, conforming their bodies to that classic hour glass figure of the ideal woman. It is that moment of time when they reveal their real sex that keeps the viewer on their toes, and there is at least one man who is severely disappointed and embarrassed.
But the seconds before the truth is exposed, that man truly believes that that man is a woman and even afterwards it is still hard to swallow (no pun intended). It is the fantasy before the reality that we want to live in and that is the conclusion David Henry Hwang draws in M. Butterfly.
"Of course a wrist must've brushedÃ¢ÂÂ¦a hand hitÃ¢ÂÂ¦over twenty years!"(1253). Song Liling saw his relationship and deceptiveness with Gallimard as the greatest acting challenge. It was his job to make Gallimard's fantasy a reality "because only a man knows how a woman is supposed to act." (1244). I suppose that Song was that one percent.