Analysis Of ' The Butterfly ' By David Henry Hwang

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Love in M. Butterfly, by David Henry Hwang, is a fantasy. Fantasy, as defined by Teresa De Lauretis, is a “primary psychic activity, a creative activity that animates the imagination and produces imaginary scenes or scenarios in which the subject is protagonist”(4). Rene Gallimard and his wife Helga are the primary protagonists in their fantasies of love. Gallimard is a French diplomat who gives into his love for the Chinese opera singer, Song Liling. The relationships in this play exemplify a kind of love that focuses on temporary happiness, despite the reality of a character’s situation. Both Gallimard and Helga are aware of their realities and attempt to create a love life to compensate for their own lackluster lives. Helga admits to being aware of her reality but like Gallimard is content with a wretched love no matter how false it is. Gallimard and Helga in M. Butterfly create layered fantasies of their heteronormative love life as a way of escaping their dissatisfying reality but they never experience true love.
The layering of M. Butterfly gives insight into the layering of fantasies which Gallimard goes through. For instance, an opera is a fantasy within itself, providing for the audience an idealized view of a story. Teresa De Lauretis says in her work on fantasies that “Popular culture forms have the effect of something deeply felt and experienced, and yet they are fictional representations. […] They perform, at the societal level and in the public sphere, a

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