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Creative Voice

In: English and Literature

Submitted By Karyalba69
Words 981
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Kary Alba
ENG 102
Professor Brackett
Essay 2: M. Butterfly
One of the most outstanding questions that arises throughout the plot of David Henry
Hwang’s play, Butterfly
M
, is that of how Gallimard did not know that Song Liling was a man throughout the entirety of their affair.
Gallimard falls in love with Song, whom he believes to be a woman, during his time as a diplomat in Beijing. Unlucky and awkward, Gallimard is an unlikely candidate for the attentions of a beautiful woman.
Indeed, how is it that this affair, that spanned several years and was accomplished, enabled Song to disguise himself as a woman for so long, and so completely? The relationship between Gallimard and Song was allowed to continue without breaking the illusion simply, because people do see what they want to (or that people will refuse to see something that they do not, no matter how much evidence there is to the contrary). Gallimard is influenced by the stereotypes associated with oriental women.
He is particularly attached to a vision of Asian women as being modest, submissive, and extremely loyal to their men.
Throughout the play Gallimard associates oriental women with various stereotypes that aren’t necessarily true. “It’s true what they say about Oriental girls. They want to be treated bad!” (Act 1, Scene 3) Gallimard knows that he isn’t the best bachelor for women and cherishes every bit of Song’s love and the feeling of power and masculinity she gives him. This is a major reason why Gallimard was blinded by the fact that Song was actually a man.
The role of the

Butterfly is representative of the “ideal woman” and more so embodies for Western audiences, especially Western men, the optimal Asian woman. Butterfly is the submissive, feminine woman ready to give everything up for the powerful Western man. Gallimard truly believes most of these stereotypes to be true and is completely oblivious to the fact that his lover is a man.
In the courtroom scene in the opening of Act Three, Scene One, Song explains to the judge how he was able to pass a woman to Gallimard for so long. He says: “As soon as a
Western man comes into contact with the East—he’s already confused. The West has a sort of an international rape mentality towards the East…The West thinks of itself as masculine, big guns, big industry, big money whereas the East is feminine, weak, delicate, and poor. The West believes that the East, deep down, wants to be dominated—because a woman can’t think for herself. When Gallimard finally met his fantasy woman, Song, he wanted more than anything to believe that she was, in fact, a woman. I am an Oriental. And being an Oriental, I could never completely be a man.” (Act 3, Scene 1) Gallimard essentially believes that if you are a Westerner you can never see the East as equal. He believes that if you are from the East you cannot be masculine or powerful. This is how Song was so easily able to fool Gallimard into thinking she was a woman. Gallimard already had a preconceived notion about orientals and was blinded by his own thoughts.
Gallimard so readily accepted Song as a woman because he was Asian. He first saw Song in the role of the Butterfly, the pre­accepted concept of Asian women by Western men. If he ever noticed something different while he was with Song, Gallimard associated Song’s behavior or differences in anatomy as some form of “Chinese modesty” or the fact that Song was Asian.
More so, if Gallimard recognized Song as a man in terms of biology, he himself would never see

Song as an actual man; a man that could be powerful and strong, because that violates the stereotype of the inferiority of Asians. Gallimard’s mind simply rejected the idea that Song was indeed a man and persisted that Song was his Butterfly and that any anomalies were merely the fact that Asian “women” were just different from the women he was used to. Furthermore,
Gallimard as a symbol of the West demonstrates the severe bias and assumption that the West has towards the East and foreign policy in Asia. In order for the West to feel superior, to feel that they have the “big guns,” it is necessary that the West deny Eastern power or individuality. G gggggggg Gallimard refuses to admit that Song is a man, even when deep down inside he knows the truth. Just like in the Vietnam War, where the West refused to pull out and admit defeat.
Because defeat at the hands of an “Asian woman”is intolerable. This persistence in Eastern inferiority continues to this day. Maybe this view is merely the West projecting its own inferiorities on to an easier “target.” Perhaps the West is the true Butterfly, and simply needs to see the East as it really is, an equal. Gallimard allows himself to be oblivious to Song’s true identity because he relies on the stereotypes applied to Asians and women, to define a Chinese woman. For Gallimard, admitting that Butterfly did not really exist means admitting that his own power over a woman also did not exist. This strips Gallimard of his manhood as defined by the rules expressed throughout the play. Finally in scene two while Song finally strips for Gallimard, the reluctant Gallimard admits, “I knew all the time somewhere that my happiness was temporary, my love a deception. But my mind kept the knowledge at bay. To make the weight bearable” (Act 3, Scene 2). This is interesting because we wonder if Gallimard knew he was being tricked, perhaps subconsciously.

"The LitCharts Study Guide to M. Butterfly."
LitCharts
. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Apr. 2016. Hwang, David Henry, and Giacomo Puccini. . Butterfly
M
. New York, NY: New American
Library, 1989. Print.…...

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