M. Butterfly Essay Questions

Essay Questions

  1. 1

    Discuss the relationship between Song and Gallimard and the effect of opposing dichotomies in the text.

    The relationship between Song and Gallimard is one that is built on stark dichotomies. Gallimard is a man obsessed with the East and perpetuates the colonialist perspective by gendering the East and the West. The East is portrayed as sensual, exotic, seductive, as a feminine force whereas the West is the progressive, rational, civilized masculine force. Gallimard's fantasy of the submissive, perfect Butterfly fully embodies Gallimard's perception of femininity and allows him to create a persona of masculinity that he sees as ideal. While Gallimard is originally portrayed as being an oddity, a deviation from the aggressive masculinity he so desires, Gallimard performs as the archetypical Western man in response to the portrayal of vulnerable femininity due to his capitalization on their dichotomy.

  2. 2

    Discuss how the fetishization of women affects the male perception of women in the text.

    Gallimard's fantasy of ultimate femininity causes him to view Song as the eponymous Madame Butterfly. Renee’s fixation with Butterfly and finally Rene’s masquerade as Butterfly brings forth the play’s assertion that only a man can create the perfect woman. While on one hand, the fetishization of oriental women results in Asian women to be objectified and sexualized; the male obsession with capturing and molding femininity becomes highly desexualizing as well. The feminine becomes merely an idea that results oversimplification of women as well as of men.

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