Western Stereotypes In David Henry Hwang's M. Butterfly

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In David Henry Hwang’s M. Butterfly, Hwang poses a narrative that is rife with Western stereotypes on what the East is like. These stereotypes get turned on their heads through the use of the relationship between Song, and Rene Gallimard. Gallimard is struck by the idea of the submissive Asian woman, which allows him to fall for Song’s trap. Song plays the role of Chinese spy, and the role of the quiet lover. The relationship fails to work without the prevailing obsession with orientalism, the idea of masculinity and femininity in relation to gender, and most importantly the distinction between reality and the imagination. Gallimard’s obsession with the “orient” is a large part of why he so easily falls into the fantasy of the submissive Asian…show more content…
As it extends to the ordinary lives of the citizens, so it does with Song and Gallimard. According to Karen Shimakawa, “What excites Gallimard is his apparent power to transgress those boundaries [of East and West for example], but what ultimately snares him is his decision to preserve them…Song’s apparent “modesty” comports with Gallimard’s vision of the perfect Asian Woman, and so maintains her as Other, separate from his own space,” (Shimakawa, 350). Gallimard is excited by the idea that he can bridge two cultures, and he attempts to give information through his job about what the East respects and admires. However, through this he always maintains the separation between the two, and ultimately puts the West in the form of the masculine protector. This transfers into his own relationship with Song, as Shimakawa points out, because Gallimard is enthralled by the fantasy of being of being the strong Western man, and the idea that he has completely shaken up Song’s modest Asian world. Gallimard is obsessed with the idea of the perfect woman. And to destroy this fantasy would be to destroy Gallimard’s own thoughts on

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