One of the major themes in M. Butterfly is about ethnic and cultural fantasy stereotyping. After Gallimard watches the opera Madama Butterfly , he is attracted to the Oriental woman by her spirit of sacrifice. The opera evokes Gallimard’s willingness of dominating and he imagines Song as the woman who is dominated by him. As Song says, he has a fantasy of “the submissive Oriental woman and the cruel white man.” Furthermore, there’s a quote also illustrates the idea. It says that, “I have a vision. Of, the Orient. That, deep within its almond eyes, there are still women. Women willing to sacrifice themselves for the love of a man. Even a man whose love is completely without worth.” (Act 2, Scene 3) It seems that Hwang is trying to declare the misinterpretations and misunderstandings caused by Western stereotypes; for example, they believe that Eastern men hate Western men because women are more attractive to Western men. According to Hwang, “Asians have long been aware of ‘Yellow Fever’–Caucasian men with a fetish for exotic Oriental women. I have often heard it said that ‘Oriental women make the best wives.’ (Rarely is this heard from the mouths of Asian men, incidentally.)” 2
M . Butterfly explores Western stereotypes towards Asians and the preconceptions of gender and sexual identity. Some critics say that in the play, Gallimard’s willingness to accept Song as a woman is a natural extension of his perceptions of Asian men as feminized figures. Furthermore, Gallimard’s stereotyping of Asian women as submissive and modest makes it possible for Song to live with him, not being discovered as a man. Gallimard’s relationship with Song reveals his colonial attitudes towards Asian culture. However, in the end he becomes Butterfly who is willing to sacrifice for love and commits suicide. As for Song, although he seems like the one who betrays Gallimard, he is also betrayed by himself because he sacrifices all his personal pursuits for his country, including his freedom, his life and even love. What a tragic, sad but beautiful play!
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