M. Butterfly


David Henry Hwang

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M. Butterfly: Act 2, Scene 2 Summary & Analysis

The scene opens with Gallimard sitting on a couch with Song curled up at his feet. Gallimard explains to his audience how, shortly after beginning their affair, he and Song — who, by that time, he had taken to calling Butterfly — rented an apartment in Beijing where they would meet a few times each week. In these meetings, he says, Song pursued an “education.”
The pose in which Song and Gallimard sit emphasizes their unequal power dynamic: Song sits at Gallimard’s feet like a dog, showing her submissive position in their relationship. Gallimard calls her Butterfly as a further affirmation of their power dynamic: if she is the fantasy woman, then he is Pinkerton, to whom she is hopelessly devoted.
Femininity and Male Ego Theme Icon
Song is telling Gallimard that Chinese men keep their women down, and that the Communist government in China works to keep its citizens ignorant. She praises Gallimard for his progressive ideas, and tells him how exciting she finds his work, making decisions that shape the world. Song asks Gallimard to tell her about the situation in Vietnam, insisting that she wants to learn more about his work so she can be impressed by his power and influence.
Song is totally sycophantic in this exchange, catering to her lover’s ego to an absurd degree. While her adoration might seem totally insincere to the audience, Gallimard takes it in eagerly, without suspicion or hesitation. He has come to believe in his own splendor, and in her total innocence and harmlessness and natural devotion to him.
Orientalism, Imperialism, and Cultural Conflict Theme Icon
Femininity and Male Ego Theme Icon