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M.Butterfly

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M.Butterfly is a play which describes a relationship between Mr.Gallimard, a French diplomat, and Song, a Chinese actress and opera singer. At first glance it might be perceived as a case of mistaken identity. However, this play goes much deeper. Mr.Gallimard seems to seek a new identity and in the process becomes a traitor. One can speculate on whether Mr.Gallimard knew that Song was a woman or not but, in my opinion, it is irrelevant. Mr.Gallimard fell in love with Song for two main reasons; his obvious lack of self confidence, and his, as a westerner, ideal of love and racial stereotype.

We are first exposed to his lack of self confidence early in the play when he discusses with Marc in act one, scene four his lack of interest in women and that he rather stay home then go to Marseille where " ....they come. On trucks. Packed in like sardines. The back flips open, babes hop out, we're ready to roll."(8). Gallimard responses “I’m afraid they'll say no."(8) Many years later, he meets Song and her being, or pretending to be, submissive, gives him the confidence to pursue her without fear of being rejected as in his early days. It is odd that a married man would jeopardize his relationship with his wife but it is pretty obvious that the pleasure he gets from seducing a beautiful oriental woman outways the pleasure he gets from his wife.

Another important example of Gallimard's lack of confidence is his view of himself as an unattractive man who is not very popular with the ladies. In act one, scene three Gallimard is strongly identifying himself with Pinkerton's character “...not very good-looking, not too bright, and pretty much a wimp...” (5) Yet Pinkerton manages to secure a beautiful woman who worships him. It is this fact which encourages him to pursue Song thereby enjoying the illusion of possessing for once in his life dominating a beautiful woman.

The second important issue is the play on the Western world's ideal of love and the way it is portrayed through Gallimard's relationship with Song. Most Western men conceive Asian women as submissive, docile and the all around stereotypical "good wife". As the western world evolved, many feminist movements have empowered women and given them a greater equality with men. In more modern times women working and having careers became a necessity for society to function which pushed the boundaries of the stereotypical women/wife role. All these changes intimidate many men, in particular those who lack in self confidence and have a weaker identity of self such as Gallimard's character who chooses to pursue a women whom he believes to be his inferior.

Song's character fits this stereotype and what's more she is strategically playing the role in order to serve her own agenda which is to extract sensitive information from him. For example, in act one, scene eight Song states that "...we have always held a certain fascination for you Caucasian

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