M. Butterfly

Essay by EssaySwap ContributorHigh School, 12th grade February 2008

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M. Butterfly By David Henry Hwang Based on a true story, M. Butterfly relates the story of a French diplomat, Rene Gallimard and his 20-year relationship with a Chinese transvestite, Song Liling. Stationed at the French embassy in Beijing in the early 1960s, Rene meets Song, a Chinese opera performer. Blinded by his fantasies, imagination, racial and gender stereotypes and imperialist preconceptions, Rene Gallimard makes himself believe that Song is a woman. He eventually succeeds in making Song his lover, a relationship he compares to the one 1904 opera Madame Butterfly. Gallimard begins to share diplomatic secrets to his "Butterfly," not knowing that Song is passing them along to the Chinese government. In due time, Song manages to convince Gallimard to divulge sensitive documents and papers, while Gallimard is blinded with the notion that he has found his ?Butterfly?. Tried and imprisoned for treason, Gallimard soon learns the truth and kills himself, preferring to hold on to his dreams of the divine Butterfly than the harsh reality.

All cultures have their own particular understanding of what constitutes gender and sexuality. In the process of creating these definitions, every culture arrives at an understanding of what is acceptable and what is problematic. ?M. Butterfly? covers various issues that might not agree or follow our ?traditional notions about gender and sexuality?. Director Yukihiro Goto, a director at SFSU comments on the play, says "M. Butterfly is an important and fascinating play?M. Butterfly shows the problems of relying on unchallenged stereotypes and cultural misconceptions. It forces us to critically examine everything we believe, including our own notions of sexuality and love.? (? David Henry Hwang?s M. Butterfly: Theatre Production at San Francisco State University?) However, the big question that comes into mind of everybody that reads the...