Puccini’s opera Madame Butterfly view that the East is feminine dominates. There are many stereotypes of the East by the West, of women by men in the opera. David Henry Hwang uses the idea to deconstructs the famous opera and retitle it M Butterfly.
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There are similarities and differences in Hwang’s M Butterfly and Puccini’s opera Madame Butterfly. They are both expressing the ideas of racist stereotypes about Western men and Eastern women. Puccini’s opera is about the Japanese girl falling in love with Pinkerton of the U.S. Navy, who dominates and possesses a beautiful Asian woman. Her name is Cio-Cio-San, also known as Butterfly. Despite the fact that in M Butterfly Song merely plays the role of a passive oriental woman. Both of the characters, Rene Gallimard and Pinkerton fall in love, not only with a person, but also with a fantasy stereotype about Asian woman, the stereotyped view of Asian women as demure and submissive. They are willing to die for their love. One of the differences is Hwang’s M Butterfly takes place in China, and Puccini’s opera Madame Butterfly takes place in Japan. Hwang’s M Butterfly and Puccini’s opera Madame Butterfly do have similar endings but the roles are reversed. In Madame Butterfly, Cio-Cio-San, known as Butterfly sacrifices herself for the love she has for Pinkerton. In M Butterfly, the role switch, and it is Gallimard who kills himself. Hwang does this in order to introduce a theory; the Westerner also submits to love not just Asian people. Another difference is Butterfly in Hwang’s M Butterfly is not only a spy for the Chinese government, but also a man disguised as a woman.
Hwang chooses to deconstruct a very famous western play, because western civilization doesn’t like to confess its faults. Hwang’s M Butterfly assesses the role love plays in relationship and how that love interacts with gender and culture. Hwang uses the opera to attack stereotypes and stupid racist thinking about Asian men and women.