Literary Analysis of M Butterfly

Topics: Vietnam War, Western world, China Pages: 3 (989 words) Published: June 28, 2008
In the short play and film adaptation of M Butterfly, David Henry Hwang allows his readers and audience to identify several bilateral misperceptions that overshadow the cultural and political differences between a proclaimed feminine Orient and a foreign devilish West. "M Butterfly" underscores the devaluation of women in general by Western culture, communism and espionage in China during the Vietnam War era, and is also synonymous with one man's fantasy of being loved by what he perceived as the Perfect Woman…a drag-queen.

Rene, the protagonist and also referred to as the "adventure imperialist", incorporates preconceived Western beliefs in his own value system that demoralize Oriental women to intensify his oblivious and perverted fantasy of pretending he didn't know that Song was really a man. "It's true what they say about Oriental girls, they want to be treated bad" (Hwang P.6). This perverse attitude of Asian women was used to make Rene fall in love with the Butterfly allusion. A façade that represents a certain alienable shyness and fear of the Western man which is what made Butterfly so delicate and illusive in Rene's eyes. "It's one of your favorite fantasies, isn't it? The submissive Oriental woman and the cruel white man" (Hwang P. 17). The Chinese all too often refer to the white man as the "foreign devil" which is illuminated with the following passage: "The whole world over, the Yankee travels, casting his anchor wherever he wants. Life is not worth living unless he can win the hearts of the fairest maidens, then hotfoot it off the premises ASAP" (Hwang P.58). This passage infers that all Western men are sexually promiscuous in an animalistic sub-textual level and are incapable of loving just one woman while dominating the rest of the world for selfish reasons.

Ironically Song, the antagonistic Chinese Diva spy from the Peking Opera, uses manipulative and deceitful tactics to appeal to Rene's internal feelings of dominating a...
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