Stereotyping as a self-destructive force in 'M. Batterfly'

Essay by zhalexUniversity, Bachelor's October 2004

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The problem of oriental woman stereotyped by western man is one of the central issues raised in the play M. Butterfly.

It's interesting, however, that this stereotype is still very much alive. In fact, it's not a secret that Hollywood is often portraying Asian women as exotic, erotic, sensual and very sexual. These images not only complicate the situation, but also definitely help endorse already existing stereotypes.

In M. ButterflyGallimard probably thinks he found that ideal Asian woman that lives up to all the characteristics of the stereotype he created in his mind. The phrase "She eats out of my hand" (6) basically means that oriental woman must be submissive and follow every little request of her Master. "She [Butterfly] arrives with all her possessions in the folds of her sleeves, lays them all out, for her man to do with as he pleases." (10)

If Gallimard's mistress were a western woman, he would not dare to expect the same level of submissiveness and, therefore, would not be able to derive as much satisfaction from his affair as he did with Song.

From the very beginning Gallimard was in love with his fantasy, with the illusion, with the stereotype, but not with Song.

The problem with Gallimard illusion is that it becomes his tragedy. The stereotype created by Gallimard's illusions consumes him to the point of self-destruction. The way Gallimard slipped into self-destruction is by crossing the line of healthy fantasy into a world of false conceptions. "The submissive oriental woman and the cruel white man," (17).

When we observe people as groups and form stereotypes, we are creating illusion in their simplest form. Such behavior can be destructive for both the observer and those being surveyed.

In M. Butterfly there were times when Gallimard was...