Outline of my presentation Introduction of David Henry Hwang and M. Butterfly. Gallimard’s personality and his relationship with other western women. Image of Gallimard’s ideal woman and the stereotype of oriental women. Song’s personality of being a homosexuality or not? The connection between the Revolution and the hegemonic position in their relationship. The inverted power-position of race and gender from Gallimard’s suicide.
David Henry Hwang David Henry Hwang was born in Los Angeles, August 11, 1957, and was educated at the Yale School of Drama and Stanford University.
The outline of M. Butterfly The French diplomat, Gallimard, met Chinese opera diva, Song Liling, when she acted Madam Butterfly. Gallimard was attracted by her performance as an obedient oriental woman. Therefore, he fell in love with Song without knowing Song’s real social identity as a spy and her sexual identity as a man.
When having intimacy, Song persuaded Gallimard against stripping off her clothes by emphasizing Chinese women’s modesty. In Frence, Song and Gallimard were accused of spy, and Gallimard committed suicude in Madam Butterfly’s costume in the prison while Song was repatriated to China.
The Issues of M. Butterfly Hwang showed three main controversial issues in the play: racism, sexism, and imperialism Racism: the stereotype of Chinese in westerners’ eyes. Sexism: the stereotype presented by Madam butterfly and Song. Imperialism: the diplomacy relationship between Chinese, France in Vietnam War.
Gallimard’s personality In western opera, female characters always played by “huge” women, but in Peking Opera, female characters always played by delicate men. In the different sexualities with three western women, Isabelle, Renee and Helga, Gallimard was the passive one. He showed his man subject position only when being with Song.
The ideal female in Gallimard’s opinion Owing to his feminine character, He yearned for the dominant position not only between sexual relationship but racial relationship; as a result, he gained superiority from Song’s obedience and tenderness. What he loved is his fantasy toward the oriental women’s virtue rather than Song’s unique character. As a result, when knowing the truth, he objected to acknowledge his adoring Song in person.
Homosexuality? Heterosexuality? Both Gallimard and Song qualified some feminine character, but Song’s delicacy was artificially presented and Gallimard was not. Gallimard needed a “woman” to fulfill his hegemonic position, so he could not accept the “male Song Liling”, who had all his ideal conditions about woman. Song loved Gallimard as his real identity and even had sex with him.
China Government’s attitude toward the West In the China Revolution, those revolutionists advocated devastating all Chinese old traditions and erecting new customs, and this was also the standpoint of Chinese government. However, the strategy Chinese government adopted to defeat the west imperialism was a woman in the most traditional and conservative appearance. Chinese government gained the triumph over France, but is that a real triumph?
Gallimard’s death The male Chinese spy led to Gallimard’s death, and it also represented the downfall of the superior gender, race and social-status. Compared with Madam Butterfly, Hwang reversed the victim from female to male. Gallimard killed himself in Madam Butterfly’s identity, and in my opinion, he is the person playing Madam Butterfly in the whole lifetime.