Feminism in M. Butterfly Essay

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Feminism in M. Butterfly

In the 1989 drama M. Butterfly, the masterwork of contemporary American playwright David Henry Hwang, the topic of sexual politics underlies all other themes, and creates a tension between the genders that pervades throughout the text; moreover, Hwang subverts traditional thematic aspects of sexual politics by questioning the most fundamental unit of sex by considering the very nature of gender and what defines a male or a female. These elements unite and develop a penetrating examination of feminism, and an inspection of the role of females in both Western and Eastern societies as they relate to males, and an exposé of the inequalities of gender which are present, perhaps fundamental, in both cultures. The
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There is an interesting comment made here, by the trio of commentators in the second scene, that the trials and tribulations of Gallimard make "a compelling case for sex education in the schools." Hwang is here making a statement which escapes the boundaries of the play and operates in the real world as well; in fact, the three remarkers essentially embody the voice of the playwright discussing the topics of his own drama, remarking on the story. It is important that the three observers are composed of two men and one woman -- by doing so, Hwang implies that in Western society men have more importance, for here they have two voices to the woman's lone opinion. Additionally, Hwang obviously feels the need for some sort of sexual education, and reinforces this with the statement coming from the woman that "I thought the French were ladies' men." This statement hints at an underlying sexism, an assumption that French men are supposedly capable of seducing any woman. This fallacy is found throughout the play, voiced through both words and actions by diverse characters. The second act, significant because of the dramatic device explained above, ends on an ironic note when one of the men comments "Vive la différence!" Easily translated from the French, this is "Long live the difference!" and refers to the difference between men and women; however, this statement is undercut by the fact that it is an obvious joke, said
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