M. Butterfly


David Henry Hwang

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M. Butterfly: Act 1, Scene 4 Summary & Analysis

Gallimard flashes back to 1947, when he and Marc were still young men studying at the Ecole Nationale, a French university in Aix-en-Provence. Marc is trying to convince Gallimard to go with him to his father’s condo in Marseilles. Gallimard insists he would rather stay home. Marc tries to tempt him with explicit stories of the sexual adventures he and other university boys have had with women they bring to the condo.
In this conversation, Marc appears lascivious and crude while Gallimard appears meek and harmless. Gallimard looks mature and sophisticated for the contrast, but he also seems like an awkward outsider —= that he chooses to stay home while his classmates have wild orgies shows that he is not one of them, for better or worse.
Memory, Imagination, and Self-Deception Theme Icon
Gallimard tells Marc that making advances toward women always makes him nervous, because he is afraid of being rejected. Marc insists Gallimard does not have to ask these women’s permission, and that the women don’t have to say yes — he can have sex with them as he pleases. Gallimard demurs further. Marc calls him a wimp, then begins waving at women in the audience, leering and making lewd gestures. He tells Gallimard “there’re are a lot of great babes out there.” Gallimard ushers Marc offstage, and prepares to resume telling his story.
Marc reveals himself to be a revolting sexist in this part of the conversation: he advocates rape and targets women in the audience for unwanted sexual attention. Marc is a figure of male disregard for female humanity, and the sexist belief that women exist for the use and pleasure of men. Although Gallimard condescends to Marc, he never challenges his principles. At heart, he is just as sexist as his friend.
Femininity and Male Ego Theme Icon
Love and Cruelty Theme Icon