The love of your life could really just be an Asian man dressed in a kimono. So, be careful of who you give your heart to.
In David Hwang’s M. Butterfly, (wait! don’t go…I know this sounds like an essay but I promise it’s just a blog. Also, it’s an entertaining play, I swear!) The main character, Rene Gallimard, falls in love with a beautiful, alluring opera singer and doesn’t find out she’s a man until 20 years after.
The play discusses the perception Western men have of Oriental women. If you can get an Oriental woman to fall in love, she’ll do anything for you. They’re nothing but submissive and powerless. “Before you know it, every last one of them- they’re stripped and splashing around my pool. There’s no moon out, they can’t see what’s going on, their boobs are flapping, right? You close your eyes, reach out-its grab bag, get it?” (12). Wild, right? I showed that page to all my friends after I read it.
So this man Gallimard is seriously unattractive but plays macho and wins the heart of the mysterious Butterfly. To test her limits and win her over, he charms her and then doesn’t call her back; he straight drops her. Despite (and because of) his absence, she continues to write him letters. He only returns to her after she says, “I am out of words, I can hide behind dignity no longer […] I have already given you my shame” (30). Ironically, by the end of the play, gender roles are switched and Gallimard turns into the weak, feminine character. Tricked by a man for years, he ends up sacrificing himself over love. He kills himself because he had lost everything to be with her only to end up loveless, duped, and in prison.
One question. After all that time, how did you not know???
“Happiness is so rare that our mind can turn somersaults to protect it” – (47).
People see what they want to believe. Being in love is something so special that throws any rationality out the window. In our own lives, we play characters that exhibit the same behavior as Gallimard. If we could see the dramatic irony of our own decisions, we’d pull our hairs and sit on the edge of our seats wondering how we could be so unaware.
Our society is filled with young boys and girls who will do anything for a relationship – even an unhealthy one. Emotion and sexual drive overlook red flags. The signs are there: you find yourself second-guessing, wondering if they actually care about you. They don’t treat you like you should. You recognize flaws in the relationship but brush them to the side because you’d rather put up with the little things than lose them completely. You give up your pride to keep them around.
This behavior is all too familiar; for anybody, it’s the easy, basic choice. It’s much harder to open your eyes and understand what you deserve.
There’s an alternative: recognize your worth. If you can’t see it, then work on it. Be independent and dedicate your time to efforts that will build you up, not tear you down. It seems difficult, but loving yourself comes first. Once this happens, real love is much easier to come across.
Tiniest Work Cited You’ve Ever Seen:
Hwang, David Henry. M. Butterfly. London: Penguin, 1989. Print