M Butterfly Gender Roles

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In sociology, the East–West dichotomy is the perceived differences between the Eastern world and Western cultures. This division is cultural rather than geographical. The West is comprised of countries and continents such as Australia, Canada, Europe, New Zealand, Latin America and the United States. Historically, the East is comprised of Asian and Islamic nations. In the play M.Butterfly by David Henry Hwang, the character Song emphases the clear contrasts between East and West. Within this play Song makes direct comments about and demonstrates some of the different values, beliefs, and gender roles. Through Song’s relationship with Gallimard and past life experiences, the reader can understand how different Western culture is compared Eastern…show more content…
Throughout the play Gallimard’s actions are made to appeal to an Eastern women. Song, disguised as an Oriental woman, plays the part of a typical Oriental woman as perceived by Gallimard. In the play Song states, “Your history serves you poorly, Monsieur Gallimard. True, there were signs reading "No dogs and China- men." But a woman, especially a delicate Oriental woman—we always go where we please. Could you imagine it otherwise? (Hwang 22) Song is stating the belief that Western men objectify Oriental women. Although Western men do not wish to assimilate with Eastern men, Eastern women are not a threat because they are objects to be possessed. The role of an Eastern woman is to be an object or trophy for the “superior” Western man. Song uses this belief to blind Gallimard with deception. However this belief is not entirely directed at just Eastern women. Gallimard uses his views of Western women and transfers that role into Eastern society. Gallimard is married when he first begins his relationship with Song. One could argue that this unfaithful act is a demonstration of Gallimard using women as objects, in place of viewing women as equals. It is made clear however, that this is not the belief of Eastern men towards Eastern women. This is made clear through the fact that Gallimard views himself as superior to Eastern society and thus looks down on Eastern men and women. Through Song, the differences between gender roles in Western and Eastern society is made

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