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Without a doubt, the creation of David Henry Hwang named “M. Butterfly” appears to be one of the most successful narrations of the previous epoch. During work on the presented issue, much attention was paid to the conceptions related to the sphere of gender studies. In the contemporary discourse, this term remains rather controversial, and it engenders a sharp discussion. Specifically, this paper explores the particular features of gender stereotypes and orientalism. That is why this conception requires an accurate examination. Thus, this article seeks to analyze the distinguishing characteristics of ethnicity, gender, and sexuality that dominate in this story and provide a critical overview of such intersections.
The leading confrontation of the apparent notions is revealed in the aspect of a permanent battle between Western and Eastern civilization. The author depicts this peculiarity and designates its common traits. According to his perception, the West represents masculine mentality, and the East is expected to manifest a weak, delicate, and poor attitude (Hwang, 1998, p. 5). Indeed, it has inherited the feminine mystique. As a result, the theme of Western domination is underlined, and the Oriental woman is expected to show a submissive position.
This tendency emerges in the context of binary stereotypes among the Oriental female and the Western male. Analyzing the issue of embedded power and authority, the representative of the Eastern civilization is called to find safety and peace, being obedient and patient. The Oriental woman is believed not to question her role or status. What is more, her destiny depends on a personal choice of the Western male.
However, the writer substitutes these conceptions and portrays the reversal of roles in his narration. One of the main heroes – Gallimard – supposes that his penetration into the Oriental world is a perfect chance to show his masculine might. But the character of Song does not depict the ordinary traits of the Oriental male (Hwang, 1998, p. 36). He turns out to be rather the Western male colonizer. Such miscomprehension causes the greatest tragedy of the established principles and norms.
This interchange makes Gallimard play the role of a quintessential Asian woman. Conventionally, such alteration embodies the negative prerequisites for further transformation. It presents a bleeding of gender and ethnic lines. The numerous gender stereotypes may be envisaged as the greatest loss of Western civilization. Moreover , the author treats the conception of “ethnicity” as a major factor that has an apparent influence on the functioning of human sexuality and the inquiry of physical sex. Finally, all prejudices are broken owing to the heroes’ mixture of confused visions about the roots of their feelings.
What’s more, the author succeeds in creating gender ambiguity through his play. This particularity assists in altering the audience’s beliefs about ethnicity, gender, and sexuality. Even the title of the play demonstrates this. Hwang uses the letter “M” and hides the real gender of his character -“Monsieur.” His hero Gallimard chooses a Chinese woman to be his mistress, as he feels a real thirst for sexual intervention into Oriental society (Hwang, 1998, p. 27). Apparently, Song applies his femininity of the East and envisages it as an advantage, manipulating and treating Gallimard incorrectly .
The conception of “body” also arises in this context. It clarifies the problem of sexuality, but throughout the work, Hwang does not give a definite answer. The writer supposes that Gallimard is an addict who cannot separate the real truth from irrelevant information. His passion is a spark, but he does not have a chance to maintain his “esprit de corps” (Hwang, 1998, p. 59). Finally he commits seppuku because he is not able to deal with his internal demons.
To conclude, it is essential to highlight that this version of “M. Butterfly” deserves precise attention, as it reveals prominent and valuable conceptions concerning the issues of ethnicity, gender, and sexuality. In the term of the recent research, the analysis of such notions embodies the favorable prerequisites for further examination. All in all, it is worth emphasizing that this story depicts the major particularities devoted to the notions of masculinity and femininity in both civilizations.