Racism, Sexism, and Sexuality Shown Through M. Butterfly by David Henry Hwang

1782 Words8 Pages
Who is stronger? The East or the West? Do the Oriental people truly succumb to the threats of the western white man? Based on the views of the non-oriental people, the Oriental people secretly want to get dominated by a stronger force, comparing them to a woman, or just simply calling their race feminine. The show M. Butterfly by David Henry Hwang is able to express different issues regarding the theory of Orientalism by hiding it amongst several conversations between characters. The play can be seen as highly political because of topics it chooses to discuss despite the fact that the lead character is a diplomat. Though somewhat unrelated; M. Butterfly can even have a certain Brecht-esque quality to it. Because it contains several…show more content…
“Death with honor/ Is better than life/ Life with dishonor” (17). Gallimard is translating for Song in this passage. Song being Oriental, this line would be expected and wouldn’t cause much of a point, but when Gallimard states it again in the end of the play on page 68 and it causes much more feeling out of the audience. Why is that? Gallimard is French and not Chinese. Those kinds of words aren’t stereotypical of a French man, which is normally not known as the concerns of a Caucasian male, but rather an Oriental male. The aspects of Orientalism are not solely focused on the West’s views of the East, but can also be the other way around. “Her mouth says no, but her eyes say yes. The West thinks of itself as masculine—big guns, big industry, big money—so the East is feminine—weak, delicate, poor, but good at art, and full of inscrutable wisdom—the feminine mystique. Her mouth says no, but her eyes say yes. The West believes the East, deep down, wants to be dominated—because a woman can’t think for herself” (62). That quote was said by Song after he officially reveals to the court that he was a man, but before he officially revealed it to Gallimard. This quote is important because it gives an impression of what the East sees the West as and what they realized they’re thought of. Song compares himself to a woman, despite the fact that he dressed as one for twenty years, because

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