Misinterpreted Identities A person may search their whole life for love. Some are lucky enough to find the perfect someone, and some are not. The one's who are not as lucky can sometimes create their own idea of their ideal partner, but never actually find them. In D.
H. Hwang's play M. Butterfly, a man by the name of Gallimard creates his own idea of the perfect partner. He falls in love with a woman by the name of Song, who turns out to be not what he expected.
Song is actuality a Chinese spy disguised as a woman. Hwang illustrates in the play M. Butterfly, people are not always who they perceive to be. Through Gallimards love for song, his portrayal for the East and West, and Gallimards obsession with power, M.
Butterfly, demonstrates the different views of power and weakness that symbolized masculinity and femininity. Gallimard does not find out that Song is indeed a man until the end of the play. By this time, Gallimard is already completely in love with Song, yet he knows that his love is too good to be true. In Gallimards mind, he creates this image of what he believes to be his "perfect woman." Song portrays this image in Gallimards' mind. He declares that he was "once loved, and was loved by very simply, the Perfect Woman" (77). In spite of knowing that Song is actually a man, Gallimard continues to fantasize about his once "perfect woman." After learning that Song is a man, "Song covers Gallimard's eyes with one hand.
With the other, Song draws Gallimards Hand up to his face. Gallimard, like a blind man, lets his hands run over Song's face" (89). Gallimard pronounces that "This skin, I remember, the curve of her face, the softness of her cheek, her hair against the back of my hand" (89). Gallimard is describing the fantasy that he still feels for Song by proclaiming these remarks. Although he knows that Song is a man, he is still referring to Song as a "she" and not a "he." Although Gallimards' love for Song would never be real, they were already separated by the boundary of the two opposing counties.
The book M. Butterfly separates countries in the story, calling them the "East" and the "West." The East would be referring to China and the West referring to France. While the book separates the East from the West, Song gives her description of what the East and the West are depicted as through her. She declares in the book that the "West thinks of itself as masculine big guns, big industry, big money so the East is feminine-weak, delicate, poor...
but good at are and full of inscrutable wisdom the feminine mystique" (83). A person would think of the statement about the East and West to be referring to the difference between Song and Gallimard. Song knows that Gallimard wants to be masculine, and that he wants a feminine woman. He feels that if she is weak, that he would feel more in power. Knowing this, Song fulfills his fantasy and is everything that Gallimard desires.
Gallimard exclaims in the play, "You have changed my life forever. My little Butterfly, there should be no more secrets: I love you" (40). In turn, the diplomat becomes obsessed with the idea of having a powerless female by his side. The question of whether Gallimard actually knows that Song is actually a woman is never officially answered in the book. Throughout the book, Gallimard has his own suspicions about whether Song is actually a man.
Yet he is in thrived with his idea of being in control of a woman like Song. Though Song is deceiving Gallimard about her true gender, Song has feelings for Gallimard deep inside that would not let him break his chains of silence that bound their love that in truth was deceitful. At the beginning of the play, Song writes a letter to Gallimard telling him that she has "already given [him her] shame," (35) her shame pertaining to the fact that Gallimard will not respond to any of her letters. By Song saying this, a reader would feel that Gallimard feels the sense of control and power that he wants to feel over Song. Gallimard has an illustration of how life is supposed to be, and feels rewarded when he keeps the label that men are given. For example, he says, "I knew this little flower was waiting for me to call, and, as I wickedly refused to do so, I felt the first time that rush of power -- the absolute power of a man" (32).
Men, in general, want to be able to feel that same power and control over women that Gallimard feels over Song. It can be said that it is a natural instinct for men to want to dominate the other sex. Being a man is important to Gallimard, and following the so-called Western fantasy of having an affair with an Eastern woman is exciting to him. Song states it best in the book, when she is describing the East and the West again. She says that "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" (83).
Although this statement would be heavily disagreed upon by many. Gallimard lets himself be fooled by Song. Song states it best by saying, "when he finally met his fantasy woman, he wanted more than anything to believe that she was, in fact, a woman" (83). I feel that Gallimard is in love with the idea of having a love, like the love he had with Song.
He admits in the story that he "knew all the time somewhere that my happiness was temporary, my love a deception. But my mind kept the knowledge at bay" (88). In the end, Gallimard " finally learned to tell fantasy from reality. And, knowing the difference, I choose fantasy" (90). When reading the play, one truly understands Gallimard's world, which was mainly an obsession with power and a journey to find his true love. The reader realizes that Gallimard is a dreamer, yet his dream, like all dreams, had to come to an end.
This was because he choose true love over the reality of life.