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M. Butterfly: A Study on the West's Feminization of Asia - Essay Example

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Name: Course: Tutor: Date: Reading Response to “M. Butterfly”: A Study on the West’s Feminization of Asia In his play, “M. Butterfly”, David H. Hwang has subverted the usual, more accurately, the traditional gender role and relation to divulge the true temperament of the Western hegemonic predisposition to feminize the Orient…
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M. Butterfly: A Study on the Wests Feminization of Asia
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M. Butterfly: A Study on the West's Feminization of Asia

Download file to see previous pages... By allowing the central character Gallimard indulge into the masked male-geisha, Linling’s love, and face the following exposure of Linling’s real gender, Hwang has manipulated a unique theatrical space for his readers to experience the extremity of the West’s response to the orients’ self-proclaimed masculine activities. The development of the West’s stereotypical approach towards the feminization of the Asians, the meek orients in the West hegemonic language, as an overriding idea of the play primarily revolves around the protagonist’s tragically defective tendency to believe the male-geisha Liling as a woman. While at one edge of this gender-confused liaison, Gallimard characterizes the West’s customary narrow-minded and hegemonic attitudes towards the Asians, their culture and nations, Liling serves as an agent of the masked oriental manliness. Gallimard as a representative of the West hegemonic masculine self is prone to accept Song Liling as a girl. Indeed his perception of Song is a typical extension of his assumption of the Chinese and Asians in general. Again since Hwang’s protagonist habitually is inclined to stereotype the Chinese women as subservient, compliant, submissive, and modest, the stereotypical feminine role, flawlessly played by Song Liling, keeps the truth of Song’s identity away from being revealed to Gallimard, without much effort. Indeed Hwang’s protagonist’s hegemonic and typical colonial attitude towards oriental cultures determines most part the relationship between Gallimard and Song. Gallimard’s tendency to stereotype Asian women is evident in the following lines: “She is outwardly bold and outspoken, yet her heart is shy and afraid. It is the Oriental in her at war with her Western education.” (27) The play’s theme is serious and finally it turns into tragic. But the development of the theme is such that Hwang’s play cannot but assume a slight comic tone due to reversed gender relation. Yet in the play, Hwang’s primary tone is serious, grave and tragic. His deconstructive approach to the East-West relationship consists of both the naturalistic and fantastic elements. By employing one of the characters in the traditional role of a geisha he starts his play on a fairly natural basis. Also Gallimard-Song relationship progresses most naturally according to the cultural and traditional expectation of the society, until the truth is revealed in the second half of Scene II. This dramatic revelation of Song Liling’s true identity is, though entertaining for Hwang’s audience, surprising as a marvelous fantasy of the author. Dissolving the fourth wall of gender identity, Gallimard repeatedly reminds the spectators of his masculinity achieved through the love of a "perfect woman." Yet, the purportedly prefect female character is found to be very male. Song Lilling appears to be a clever actor, who is found to have profound knowledge about the male desires and male-expectation about a woman. He knows the qualities of an ideal women desired by most men. The followings are some of the womanly virtues and qualities that Song manipulates to ensnare Gallimard: a. Self-sacrifice, b. shrewd womanly submissiveness, c. the ability to produce offspring, d. Physical beauty, and e. Oriental modesty mixed with sexiness. At the end of the play, Gallimard eventually learns the truth about Song Lilling. He perceives that ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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