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David Henry Hwang was born in Los Angeles in 1957.

Being a child of immigrant Chinese American parents, he was able to explore the Chinese American experience. David Henry Hwang is the first Asian American playwright to bring specifically Asian and American themes to Broadway and Off-Broadway theater. His plays explore issues of ethnic identity, gender, and imperialism. He wrote many plays, but it was not until 1988, when M. Butterfly was produced on Broadway at the Eugene ONeill Theatre, that he achieved astonishing commercial success as well as widespread acclaim. His awards for this play include the Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Broadway Play and the Outer Critics Circles John Gassner Playwriting Award, the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding New Play, and the Tony Award for Best Play. By the end of 1988, Hwang was regarded by many critics as the most talented young playwright in the United States, and since then M. Butterfly has been staged in theaters around the world. The play is a flood of gender, racial, cultural, and theatrical shifts. brief plot overview; based on a true story; relationship with the opera

The relationship between the East and the West cultural, sexist and racist stereotypes: GALLIMARD: No! I was about to say, its the first time Ive seen the beauty of the story. Of her death. Its a a pure sacrifice. Hes unworthy, but what can she do? She loves him so much. Its a very beautiful story. SONG: Well, yes, to a Westerner. Its one of your favourite fantasies, isnt it? The submissive Oriental woman and the cruel white man. The power dynamics between the West and the East in 1988 and now. How is it (un)changed? M. Butterfly has sometimes been regarded as an anti-American play, a diatribe against the streotyping of the East by the West, of women by men. Quite to the contrary, I consider it a plea to all sides to cut through our respective layers of cultural and sexual misperception, to deal with one another truthfully for our mutual good, from the common and equal ground we share as himan beings. Rule One is: Men always believe what they want to hear. Rule Two: As son as a Western man comes into contact with the East hes already confused. The West has sort of an international rape mentality towards the East. SONG: Basically, Her mouth says no, but her eyes say yes. The West thinks of itself as masculine big guns, big industry, big money so the East is feminine weak, delicate, poor but good at art, and full of inscrutable wisdom the feminine mistique. Her mouth says no, but her eyes say yes. The West believes the East, deep down, wants to be dominated because a woman cant think for herself. I am pure imagination. the role of perception in the play the symbolical setting perceptual prison GALLIMARD: Get away from me! Tonight, Ive finally learned to tell fantasy from reality. And, knowing the difference, I choose fantasy.

SONG: Im your fantasy! GALLIMARD: You? Youre as real as a hamburger. Now get out! I have a date with my Butterfly. Hwangs emphasis on perception suggests parallels with Beckett the exercise of perception in the deconstruction of appearances (Herbert Blau) Gallimard fell in love with a fantasy stereotype Butterfly, not Song. GALLIMARD: Are you my Butterfly? GALLIMARD: I just think its ridiculously funny that Ive wasted so much time on just a man! SONG: Wait. Im not just a man. SONG: Im your Butterfly. Under the robes, beneath everything, it was always me. Now, open your eyes and admit it you adore me. (He removes his hand from Gallimards eyes) GALLIMARD: You, who knew every inch of my desires how could you, of all people, have made such a mistake? SONG: What? GALLIMARD: You showed me your true self. When all I loved was a lie. A perfect lie, which you let fall to the ground and now, its old and solied. SONG: So you never really loved me? Only when I was playing a part? GALLIMARD: Im a man who loved a woman created by a man. Everything else simply falls short. the existence of cultural templates in our minds In his interview with DiGaetani, Hwang mentions the universality of human fantasy: But we prefer the fantasy over reality [Gallimards miscomprehension of his mistress gender is] not actually that different qualitatively from everyday types of deception that people make in order to convince themselves theyre in love. GALLIMARD: Did I not undress her because I knew, somewhere deep down, what I would find? Perhaps. Happiness is so rare that our mind can turn somersaults to protect it. GALLIMARD: Please. This is unnecessary. I know what you are. SONG: Do you? What am I? GALLIMARD: A a man. SONG: You dont really believe that. GALLIMARD: Yes I do! I knew all the time somewhere that my happiness was temporary, my love a deception. But my mind kept the knowledge at bay. To make the wait bearable. SONG: Monsieur Gallimard the wait is over.

Identity I think all writers have their particular area of obsession, and mine is the fluidity of identity. Theres the way in which we may think were one person, but then we get put in different contexts and we become somebody else. David Henry Hwang

SONG: Miss Chin? Why, in the Peking Opera, are womens roles played by men? CHIN: I dont know. Maybe, a reactionary remnant of male SONG: No. (Beat) Because only a man knows how a woman is supposed to act.

Final scene: GALLIMARD: In public, I have continued to deny that Song Liling is a man. But alone, in my cell, I have long since faced the truth. And the truth demands a sacrifice. For mistakes made over the course of a lifetime. My mistakes were simple and absolute the man I loved was a cad, a bounder. He deserved nothing but a kick in the behind, and instead I gave him all my love. Yes love. Why not admit it all? That was my undoing, wasnt it? Love warped my judgment, blinded my eyes, rearranged the very lines on my face until I could look in the mirror and see nothing but a woman. I have a vision. Of the Orient. That, deep within its almond eyes, there are still women. Women willing to sacrifice themselves for the love of a man. Even a man whose love is completely without worth. Death with honor is better than life life with dishonor. The love of a Butterfly can withstand many things unfaithfullness, loss, even abandonment. But how can it face the one sin that implies all others? The devastating knowledge that, underneath it all, the object of her love was nothing more, nothing less than a man. It is 19__. And I have found her at last. In a prison on the outskirts of Paris. My name is Rene Gallimard also known as Madame Butterfly.

Bibliography: 1. Haedicke, Janet. David Henry Hwangs M. Butterfly; the eye on the wing. Journal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism. 7.1 (1992): 27-44. Print. 2. Hwang, David Henry, M. Butterfly, New York: A Plume Book, 1988 3. Hwang, David Henry, Afterword M. Butterfly, 94-100 4. http://bcs.bedfordstmartins.com/litlinks/Pages/Main.aspx Author links - David Henry Hwang, January 20, 2012

5. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EZOwlcwYLYc&feature=related Hwang talks about M. Butterfly (Part 2 of 2) January 20, 2012

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