A Study of Sexuality and Gender in M. Butterfly Under the Context of Post-Colonial Feminism

Yongzhen WU


David Henry Hwang’s M. Butterfly is a reinterpretation of the classic opera Madama Butterfly. He intends to expose to the readers the profound ideological imprints of racism, colonialism and patriarchy contained in Puccini’s oriental fantasy love tragedy, and to extend the discussion of such propositions as gender discrimination, racial prejudice, western misreading of the East and cultural hegemony that still exist in today’s society. This play serves as a vivid profiling of the particular historical situation suffered by Asians in the American racist environment. It is also progressive in that it challenges the stereotypes of Oriental women in Western literature. However, there is no denying that the deconstruction of colonialism and patriarchy in M. Butterfly is incomplete and inadequate. Taking a post-colonial feminist perspective as an entry point, this paper tries to analyze the orientalist colonial elements presented in M. Butterfly and focus on the sexuality and gender issues of the two main characters, Song Liling and Gallimard, hoping to help readers break out of the established framework and have a new understanding of the relationship between the West and the East, and between men and women.



M. Butterfly; Post-colonial feminism; Orientalism; Gender study

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3968/12949


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