An Afterword by the Playwright. M. Butterfly analysis

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Passage: "Nan said to Tess, but projecting for the benefit of the front, ‘Truly, are we so superior as we think? I wonder little. When we first moved in at the mine, we did something at the house so stupid am still in pain. There were two pawpaw trees growing side by side by the house, one thriving with nice big pawpaws on it and the other sick-looking and leaf-less – dead looking. Well, we thought it was plain what we should do: take down the dead tree. So we hauled and pushed on the trunk of the poor tree and strained and pulled it over – uprooted it, Gareth and myself. It was his idea: we must just straight off do this, get it over. Then, with the crash, the servants come out. They had funny looks on. Dineo said, so quietly, ‘Oh, Mma, you have killed the male.’ We didn’t understand. It seems the pawpaw grow in pairs, couples, male and female. The male tree looks like a phallus – no foliage to it, really. The female needs the male in order to bear. They take years to reach the heights ours had. Then the female died. The staff had been eating pawpaws from our tree for years. It was a humiliation” ( Rush 21).

Summary: Nan is explaining to Tess how she and Gareth dug up a tree that looked like it was dead, but that they learned from the natives that they were all wrong about their interpretation of the tree. It looked dead but the other tree needed it for its survival.

Analysis: The pawpaw trees function as a symbol within the text. They symbolize the hierarchic relationship between the men and the women in the text as well as the hierarchic relationship between the whites and the blacks in the text. When Rush writes that they "uprooted" the tree, it brings to mind the appropriation of colonies and cultural upheaval.

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,, ' :I M. BUTTERFLY by David Henry Hwang with an Afterword by the Playwright ® A PLUME BOOK NEW AMERICAN LIBRARY NEW YORK PUBLISHED IN CANADA BY PENGUIN BOOKS CANADA LIMITED, MARKHAM, ONTARIO NAL BOOKS ARE AVAILABLE AT QUANTITY DISCOUNTS WHEN USED TO PROMOTE PRODUCTS OR SERVICES. FOR INFORMATION PLEASE WRITE TO PREMIUM MARKETING DIVISION, NEW AMERICAN LIBRARY, 1633 BROADWAY, 10019. NEW YORK , NEW YORK Copyright© 1986, 1987, 1988 by David Henry Hwang All rights reserved. All inquiries regarding rights should be addressed to the author's agent, William Craver, Writers & Artists Agency , 70 West 36th St., #501, New York, NY 10018. Professionals and amateurs :ire hereby warned that performances of M . Butterfly are subject to royalty. It is fully protected under the copyright laws of the United States of America, and of all countries covered by the International Copyright Union (including the Dominion of Canada and the rest of the British Commonwealth), and of all countries covered by the Pan-American Copyright Convention, and of all countries with which the United States has reciprocal copyright relations. All rights , including professional, amateur, motion picture, recitation, lecturing, public reading, radio broadcasting, television, video or sound taping, all other forms of mechanical or electronic reproduction, such as information storage and retrieval systems and photocopying, and the rights of translations into foreign languages, are strictly reserved. Particular emphasis is laid upon the question of readings, permission for which must be secured from the author's agent in writing . M . Butterfll' was previously published, in its entirety, in American Theatre magazine. ® PLUME TRADEMARK REG. U.S. PAT. OFF. AND FOREIGN COUNTRIES REGISTERED TRADEMARK-MARCA REGISTRADA HECHO EN BRA TTL EBO RO, VT. SIGNET, SIGNET CLASSIC, MENTOR, ONYX, PLUME, MERIDIAN and NAL BOOKS are published in the United States by NAL PENGUIN INC., 1633 Broadway, New York , New York 10019, in Canada by Penguin Books Canada Limited, 2801 John Street, Markham, Ontario L3R 1B4 PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA bdztzon To Ophelia Playwright's Notes "A former French diplomat and a Chinese opera singer have been sentenced to six years in jail for spying for China after a two-day trial that traced a story of clandestine love and mistaken sexual identity .... Mr. Bouriscot was accused of passing information to China after he fell in love with Mr. Shi, whom he believed for twenty years to be a woman." -Tht New York Times, May 11, 1986 This play was suggested by international newspaper accounts of a recent espionage trial. For purposes of dramatization, names have been changed, characters created, and incidents devised or altered, and this play does not purport to be a factual record of real events or real people. "I could escape this feeling With my China girl ... " -David Bowie & Iggy Pop 1',dztzon M. Butterfly, presented by Stuart Ostrow and David Geffen, and directed by John Dexter, premiered on February 10, 1988, at the National Theatre in Washington, D. C ., and opened on Broadway March 20, 1988, at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre. M . Butterfly won the 1988 Tony for best play, the Outer Critics Circle A ward for best Broadway play, the John Gassner Award for best American play, and the Drama Desk Award for best new play. It had the following cast: Kurogo Alec Mapa, Chris Odo, Jamie H.J. Guan Rene Gallimard John Lithgow Song Liling B. D. Wong Marc/Man #2/Consul Sharpless John Getz Renee/Woman at Party/Girl in Magazine Lindsay Frost Comrade Chin/Suzuki/Shu Fang Lori Tan Chinn Rose Gregorio Helga George N. Martin M. Toulon/Man #1/Judge Scenery and Costumes: Eiko Ishioka Lighting: Andy Phillips Hair: Phyllis Della Music; Giacomo Puccini, Lucia Hwong Casting: Meg Simon, Fran Kumin Production Stage Manager: Bob Borod Peking Opera Consultants: Jamie H.J. Guan & Michelle Ehlers Musical Director and Lute: Lucia Hwong Percussion, Shakuhachi, and Guitar: Yukio Tsuji Violin and Percussion: Jason Hwang Musical Coordinator: John Miller namon Setting !'resent, an in reca]) duriR.g the deca de 1960 ta 1970 in 'Beijing, and from 1966 to the present in Paris. act one scene 1 M. Gallimard's prison cell. Paris. Present. Lights fade up to reveal Rene Gallimard, 65, in a prison cell. He wears a comfortable bathrobe, and looks old and tired. The sparsely famished cell contains a wooden crate upon which sits a hot plate with a kettle, and a portable tape recorder. Gallimard sits on the crate staring at the recorder, a sad smile on his face. Upstage Song, who appears as a beauti fu l woman in traditional Chinese garb, dances a traditional piece .from the Pekin pera, surroun e t e ercussive clatter o C inese musi . hen, slow/ Ii hts and sound cross- ade· the Chinese o era music issolves into a Western o era the "Love Duet" om uccini's Ma ame Butterfly. Song continues dancing , now to the Western accompaniment. Though her movements are the same, the difference in music now gives them a balletic quality. Gallimard rises, and turns upstage towards the figure of Song, who dances without acknowledging him. GALLIMARD: Butterfly, Butterfly ... He forces himself to turn away, as the ima e o an ta s to us. GALLIMARD: The limits of my cell are as such: four-and-ahalf meters by five. There's one window against the far wall ; a door, very strong, to protect me from autograph 2 ACT ONE, Scene Two M. BUTTERFLY hounds. I'm responsible for the tape recorder, the hot plate, and this charming coffee table. When I want to eat, I'm marched off to the dining room-hot, steammg slo p appears on my plate. When I want to sleep, the light bulo turns itself oft the work of fairies. It's an enchanted space I occupy. The French-we know how to run a pnson. · But, to be honest, I'm not treated like an ordinary · prisoner. Why? Because I'm a celebrity. You see, I make people laugh. I never dreamed this day would arci ve I've oevet been considered witty or clever. In fact, as a young boy, in an · I nfo rmal poll among my grammar school classmates, I was v? ted "least likely to be invited to a party." It's a title I managed to hold onto for many years. Despite some stiff competition. But now, how the tables turn! Look at me: the life of every social function in Paris. Paris? Why be modest? My fame has spread to Amsterdam, London, New York. Listen to them! In the world's smartest parlors. I'm the one who lifts their spirits! With a ourish, Gallimard directs our attention to o the stag!. 3 - WOMAN: And what of Gallimard.?.. MAN 1: Gallimard? MAN 2: Gallimard! GALLIMARD (To us) : You see? They're all determined to say my name, as if it were some new dance, WoMAN: He still claims not to believe the truth, MAN 1: What? Still? Even since 'the trial? WOMAN: Yes. Isn't it mad? MAN 2 (Laughing): He says . very modestL . it was dark ... and she was The trio break into laughter. MAN 1: S9=:what? He never touched her with his hands? MAN 2: Perhaps he did, and simply misidentified the equipment. A compelling case for sex education in the schools. 'WOMAN: To protect the National Security-the Church can't argue with that. MAN 1: That's impossible! How could he not know? MAN 2: Simple ignorance. MAN 1: For twenty years? scene 2 A party. Present. Lights go up on a chic-looking parlor, where a well-dressed trio, two men and one woman, make conversation. Gallimard also remains lit; he observes them from his cell . :MAN 2: Time flies when you're being stupid. .WOMAN: Well, I thought the French were ladies' men. MAN 2: It seems Monsieur Gallimard was overly anxious to live up t o his national reputation. WOMAN: Well, he's not very good-looking. ,MAN 1: No, he's not. 4 M. BUTTERFLY ACT ONE, Scene Three MAN 2: Certainly not. 5 Butterfly. By Giacomo Puccini. First produced at La Scala, Milan, m 1904, 1t 1s now beloved throughout the Western wo rld. WOMAN: Actually, I feel sorry for hjm - MAN 2: A toast! To Monsieur Gallimard! A s Gallimard describes the opera, the tape segues in and out to . sections he may be describing. WoMAN: Yes! To Gallimard! MAN 1: To Gallimard! GALLIMARD: And why not? It~ heroine, Cio-Cio-San, also known as Buttt:;rfl , ts a fetnmine ideal, beautiful and rave. n its bera, the man for whom she gives up everything, is-(He ulls out a naval o cer's ca om under ,s crate, pops it on his head and struts about -not ver oo - oo ing, not too bright, and pretty much a wimp: Benjamin Franklin Pin erton o e avy. s t e curtain nses, he's just closed on two great bargains: one on a house, the other on a woman-call it a package deal. Pinkerton purchased the rights to Butterfly for one hundred yen-in modern currency, equivalent to about . .. sixty-six cents . ...So, he's feeling pretty pleased with himself as Sharpless, the American consul, arrives to wit- ness the marriage. MAN 2: Vive la difference! They toast, laughing. Lights down on them. scene 3 M. Gallimard's cell. GALLIMARD (Smiling): Yon see? I bey toa st me. I've become patron saint of the socially inept. Can they really be so foolis h? Men like that-they should be scratching at my door, begging to learn my secrets! For I, Rene Gallimard, you see, I have known, and been loved by ... the Perfect Woman. Alone in this cell, I sit night after night, watching our story play through my head, always searching for a new endmg, one Vf hich redeems my honor, w here she returns at la st to m arms. And I imagine you-my ideal au 1ence--who come to u Just a ittle, to envy m e. Marc, wearin an o p ays the character. , to desi nate Shar less, enters and SHARPLESS/MARC: Pinkerton! PINKERTON/GALLIMARD: Sharpless! How's it hangin'? It's a great day, just great. Between my house, my wife, and the rickshaw ride in from town, I've saved nineteen cents just this morning. He turns on his ta pe recorder. Over the house speakers, we hear the opening phrases of Madame Rnttecfly . SHARPLESS: Wonderful. I can see the inscription on your tombstone already: "I saved a dollar, here I lie." (He looks around) Nice house. GALLIMARD: In order for you to understand what I did an why, I must introduce you to my avorite opera: Madam!!, PINKERTON: It's artistic. Artistic, don't you think? Like the way the shoji screens shde open to reveal the wet bar and &...& 6 M. BUTTERFLY ACT ONE, Scene Four disco mirror ball? Classy. huh? Great for impressing the chicks. SHARPLESS: "Chicks"? Pinkerton, you're going to be a mirried man! · PINKERTON: Well, sort of PINKERTON: Huh? Where? --- SHARPLESS: Home! PINKERTON: You mean, America? Are you crazy ? Can you see her trying to buy rice in St. Lams? SHARPLESS: ,.._ So, you're not serious . SHARPLESS: What do yon mean'? _ Pause. PINKERTON: This country-Sharpless, it is okay. You got all these geisha girls running aroundSHARPLESS: I know! I live here' PINKERTON: Then. you know the marriage laws, right? split for one month, it's annulled! 7 L PINKERTON/GALLIMARD (As Pinkerton): Consul, I am a sailor in port. (As Gallimard) They then pcoceed ro sit:ig rb e famous duet, "The Whole World Over." The duet plays on the speakers. Gallimard, as Pinkerton , lipsyncs his lines from the opera . SHARPLESS: Leave it to you to read the fine print. Who's the lucky girl? PINKERTON: Cio-Cio-San. Her friends call her Butterfly . Sharpless, she eats out of m y hand! SHARPLESS: She's probably very hungry. PINKERTON: Not like American girls. It's true what they s~ about Oriental girls. They want to be treated bacll SHARPLESS: Oh, please! PINKERTON: It's true! SHARPLESS: Are you serious about this girl? scene 4 PINKERTON: I'm marrying her, aren't I? SHARPLESS: Yes-with generous trade-in terms. Ecole Nationale. Aix-en-Prov~nce . .12£1- PINKERTON: When I leave, she'll know what it's like to have loved a real man. And I'll even buy her a few nylons. GALLIMARD: No, Marc, I think I'd rather stay home. SHARPLESS: You aren't planning to take her with you? MARC: Are you crazy?! We are going to Dad's condo in · Marseille! You know what happened last time? 8 M. BUTTERFLY ACT ONE, Scene Five GALLIMARD: Of course I do. MARC: Of course you don't! You never know .. stripped, Rene! GALLIMARD: Ibey GALLIMARD: ,.Who stripped? MARC: The girls! GALLIMARD: Girls? Who said anything about girls? · MARC: Rene, we're a buncha university guys goin' up to the woods. What are .we gonna do-talk philosophy? GALLIMARD: What girls? Where do you get them? MARC: Who cares? The point is, they come. On trucks. Packed in like sardines. The back flips open, babes hop · out, we're ready to roll. GALLIMARD: y OU mean, they just-? · MARC: Before you know it every last one of them-they 're ~tripped 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-it's grab 'bag, get it? Doesn't matter whose ass is between whose legs, whose teeth are sinking into who. You're just in there, going at it, eyes closed, on and on for as long as you can stand. (Pause) Some. fun, huh? 9 Xou go ahead ... I may come later. MARC: Hey , Rene-it daeso 't matter that you 'ce clumsy and got zits-they're not looking! GALLIMARD: Thank you very much. MARC: Wimp. Marc walks over to the other side of the stage, and starts waving and smiling at women i~ the audience. GALLIMARD (To us): We now return to my version of Madame Butterfly and the events leading to my recent conviction for treason. Gallimard notices Marc making lewd gestures. GALLIMARD: Marc, what are you doing? MARC: Huh? (Sotto voce) Rene, there're a lotta great babes out there. They're probably lookin' at me and thinking, "What a dangerous guy." GALLIMARD: Yes-how could they help but be impressed by your cool sophistication? Gallimard o s the less ca on Marc's head, and oints im offstage. Marc exits , leering. GALLIMARD: What happens in the morning? MARC: In the morning, you're ready to talk some philosophy. (Beat) So how 'bout it? GALLIMARD: Marc 'I can 't , I'm afraid rbey'll say 00::::rbe girls. So I never ask. MARC: You don't have to ask! That's the beauty--don't you see? They don 't have to say yes. It's perfect for a guy like ,.YOU, really. scene 5 M . Gallimard's cell. GALLIMARD : Next, Butterfly makes her entrance. We learn her age-fifteen .. . but very mature fo r her years. 10 M. BUTTERFLY ACT ONE, Scene Five Lights come up on the area where we saw Son dancin at the . top o t e p ay. She a ears there a ain now dressed as Maame utter y, movin to the " allima~ upstage s ig t y to watch, trans fixed. GmL: But as she glides past him, beautiful, laughing softly behind her fan, don't we who are men sigh with hope? We, who are not handsome, nor brave, nor powerful, yet somehow believe, like Pinkerton, that we deserve a Butterfly. She arrives with all her possessions in the folds of her sleeves, lays them all out, for her man to do with as he pleases. Even her life itself-she bows her head as she whispers that she's not even worth the hundred yen he paid for her. He's already given too much, when we know he's really had to give nothing at all. · GIRL: GALLIMARD: Music and lights on Song out. Gallimard sits at his crate. GALLIMARD : In real life, women who pudheir total worth at less than sixty-six cents are quite hard to find. The closest we come 1s m the pages of these magazines. (He reaches into his crate, pulls out a stack of girlie magazines, and begins .flipping through them) Quite a necessity in prison. For three or four dollars, you get seven or eight women. I first discovered these magazines at my uncle's house. · One day, as a boy of twelve. The first time I saw them in his closet ... all lined up-my body shook. Not with lust-no, with power. Here were women-a shelffulwho would do exactly as I wanted. The "Love Duet" creeps in over the speakers. Special comes up, revealing, not Song this time, but a pinup girl in a sexy negligee, her back to us. Gallimard turns upstage and looks at her. GrnL: I know you're watching me. GALLIMARD: My throat ... it's dry. 11 I leave my blinds open every night before I go to bed. GALLIMARD: I can't move. I leave my blinds open and the lights on. GALLIMARD: I'm shaking. My skin is hot, but m y penis soft. Why? ·GIRL: I stand in front of the window. GALLIMARD: GIRL: bad. GIRL: I shouldn't be seeing this. It's so dirty. I'~ --Then, slowly, I lift off my nightdress. GALLIMARD: GIRL: What is she going to do? I toss my hair, and I let my lips part . . . barely. . GALLIMARD: -- is Oh, god. I can't believe it. I can't- I toss it to the ground. GALLIMARD: Now, she's going to walk away. She's going toGIRL: I stand there, in the light, displaying m yself. GALLIMARD: GIRL: To you. GALLIMARD: GIRL: - No, she must ... like it. I like it. GALLIMARD: GIRL: In front of a window? This is wrong. No- Without shame. GALLIMARD: GIRL: No. She's-why j s sbe naked? She . . . she wants me to see. I want you to see. 12 ACT ONE, Scene Five M. BUTTERFLY GALLIMARD: I can't believe it! She's getting excited! GIRL: I can't see you. You can do whatever you want. GALLIMARD: I can't do a thing. Why? GIRL: What would you like me to do .. . next? Lights go down on her. Music o . Silence as Gallimard u away is magazines . Then he resumes talking to us. GALLIMARD: Act Two begins with Butterfly staring at the ocean. Pinkerton's been called back to the U.S., and 'he's iven his wife a detailed schedule of his plans. In the column mar e return ate, he's written w en the bms nest. I his tailed to 1gmte her suspicions: ree years have passed wit out a ee Which b rings a res ponse from her · faithful servan.!_, Suzuki. --- Comrade Chin enters, playing Suzuki. SuzuK1: Girl, he's a loser. What'd he ever give you? Nineteen cents and those ugly D ay-Glo stockings ? L-;;ok, it's finished! Kaput! Done! And you should be glad! I mean, the guy was a woofer! He tried before, you know-before he met you, he went down to geisha central and plunked down his spare change in front of the usual candidateseveryone else gagged! These are hungry prostitutes, and they were not interested, get the picture? Now, stor_ slathering when an American ship sails in, and let's make ' some bucks I mean, yen! We are brolce! - 5 ow, w hat ahcmr j amadon? Hey, hey-don't look away-the man is a prince--fi uratively, and, what's even Eetter, 1tera y. e s rich, he's han some, e says e 1e .if.yon don't marry him-and he' s even w1llmg to~ look the little fact that you've been deflowered all over the place by a forei gn devil. What do you mean " But ' 13 he's Japanese?" You're a anese! You th. ,_h¥--the whitey god? He was a sailor with dirty hands! _.;ou --- Suzuki stalks offitage. GALLIMARD: She's also visited by Consul Sharpless, sent by 7 Pinkerton on a minor errand. Marc enters, as Sharpless. SHARPLESS: I hate this job. GALLIMARD: This Pinkerton- he doesn't show up personally to tell his wife he's abandoning her. N o, he sends a _government diplomat ... at taxpayer's expense.. SHARPLESS: Butterfly? Butterfly? I have some bad-I'm going to be ill. Butterfly, I came to tell youGALLIMARQ: Butterfly says she knows he'll return and ifhe doesn't she'll kill herself rather than o back to her own peop e. (Beat) This causes a lull in the conversation. SHARPLESS: Let's put it this way ... GALLIMARD: Butterfly runs into the next room, and returns holding- Sound cue: a baby crying. Sharpless, "seeing" this, backs away. SHARPLESS: Well, good. Happy to see things going so well. I suppose I'll be going now. Ta ta. Ciao. (He turns away . Sound cue out) I hate this job. (He exits) GALLIMARD: At that moment, Butterfly spots in the harbor an American ship-the Abramo Lincoln! Music cue: "The Flower Duet." Song, still dressed as, changes into a wedding kimono, moving to the music. 14 ACT ONE, Scene Six M. BUTTERFLY GALLIMARD: This is the moment that redeems her years of waiting. With Suzuki's help, they cover the room with flowers• Chin, as Suzuki, trudges onstage and drops a lone flower without much enthusiasm. GALLIMARD: -and she changes into her wedding dress to prepare for Pinkerton's arrival. Suzuki helps Butterfly change. Helga enters, and helps Gallimard change into a tuxedo . GALLIMARD:} married a woman older than myself-Helga. HELGA: M y father was ambassador to Australia. I grew up among criminals and kangaroos. GALLIMARD: Hearing that brought me to the altar- Helga exits. ·GALLIMARD: - y here I took a vo w renouncing love. No fantasy · woman would ever want me, so, es, I would sett e or r ladder. Passion, I banish, and in its place-practicality! · But my vows had long since lost their charm by the · time we arrived in China. The sad truth is that all men . want a beautiful woman and rbe uglier the man, the greater the want. .Suzuki makes final adjustments of Butte,jly's costume, as does Gallimard of his tuxedo. · GALLIMARD: I married late, at age thirty-one. I was faithful to my marriage for eight years. Until the day when, as a junior-level diplomat in puritanical Peking, in a parlor at the German ambassador's house, during the "Reign of a Hundred Flowers," I first saw her . .. singing the death . scene from Madame Butte,jly. Suzuki runs offstage. 15 scene 6 German ambassador's house. Beijing. 1960. The upstage special area now becomes a stage. Several chairs face upstage, representing seating for some twenty guests in the parlor. A few "diplomats"-:-Renee, Marc, Toulon-in formal dress enter and take seats. Gallimard also sits down, ·but turns towards us and continues to talk. Orchestral accompaniment on the tape is now replaced by a simple piano. Song picks up the death scene from the point where Buttcrjly uncovers the hara-kiri kni fe. GALLIMARD: The ending is pitiful. Pinkerton, in an act of great courage, stays home and sends his American wife to p ick up Butterfly 's child. The truth, long deferred, has come up to her door. Song, pla ying Butte,jly, sings the lines from the opera in her own voice-which , though not classical , should be decent . SONG: "Con on:or muore/ chi non puo serbar/ vita con onore . " GALLIMARD (§ imultaneously): "Death with honor/ ls bett~ than life/ Tifp w ith '1isbo1=1or " The stage is illuminated; we are now completely within an efegant diplomat's residence. Song proceeds to play out an abbreviated death scene. Eve one in the roam applauds. Song, shy[ , a es er bows. Others in t Gallimard remains with us. GALLIMARD: They sa in o era the voice is ever thin . That's probab y why I'd never before enjoyed opera . Here . . . here was a Butterfly with little or rio voice-but she had the grace, the delicacy . . . . I believed this girl. I 16 M. BUTTERFLY ACT ONE, Scene Six believed her suffering. I wanted to take her in my arms-so delicate, even I could protect her, take her home, pamper her until she smiled. Over the course of the preceeding speech, Song has broken .from ffie upstage crowd and moved directly upstage of Gallimard. SONG: ~ xcuse me. Monsienr . . ? Gallimard turns upsta?e , shocked. GALLIMARD: Oh! Gallimard. Mademoiselle . .. ? A beautiful . .. SONG: Song Liling. 11 GALLIMARD : Absolutely. You were utterly convincing. It's the first time-SONG: Convincing? As aJapanese woman? The a anese used hundre s o our peop e or medical experiments during the war, you know. But I gather such an irony is lost on you. GALLIMARD: No! I was about ro say , it's the fi rst time I've seen the beauty of the staq1; SONG :_B..e.all.y? -GALLIMARD: Of her death. It's a . .. a pure sacrifice. He's unworthy,- but what can she do? She loves him ... so · much. It's a very beauti~ul story. GALLIMARD: A beautiful performance. SONG: ~ elt yes, to a Westerner. SONG: Oh, please. GALLIMARD: Excuse me? GALLIMARD: I usually- SONG: It's one of our favorite fantasies, isn't it? The submissive Oriental worn SONG: You make me blush. I'm no opera singer at all. GALLIMARD: I usually don't like Butter[[~. SONG: I can't blame you in the least. GALLIMARD: I mean the story= SONG: Ridiculous . GALLIMARD: I like the story, but ... w hat? · SONG: Oh, you like it? GALLIMARD: I ... what I mean is, I've always seen it played by huge women in so much bad makeup. GALLIMARD: Well, I didn't quite mean ... SONG: Consider it this way: what would you say if a blonde homecoming queen fe)l in Jave with a short Japanese · busmessman? He treats her cruelly, then goes home for three years, durmg w hich time she ra s to his picture an turns own marriage from a oun · Kenned . en, when she earns e as remarried she kiUs herself Now , I believe you would consider this girl to be a deranged idiot, correct? But because it's an O riental who kills herself for a Westerner-ah!-you find it beautiful. Silence. •SONG: Bad makeup is not unique to the West. GALLIMARD: Yes . . . well ... I see your point ... GALLIMARD: But, who can believe them? SONG: I will never do Butterfly again, Monsieur Gallimard. If you w ish to see some real theatre, come to the Peking Opera sometime. Expand your mind. SONG: And you believe me? • • - - - - • • • • • - • • • • • •---•~-~~l.,,,.l,!..~ l,Z•J•-•z•_1,m 1!IJ1!!,.$l.Jl!_J.,'IIIIIJII,,-. . .!!111!11_ _.,. . ......,.. . . .~!!!.•.... ~!!1!111111--~-·-···"- .,~'"·.-,,-_l!llll v:_ ..!111!! •.. .,!111 ".,:-.!!!11 ,. . ~o ~ Beat. C : :1MARD: I want to marry you! scene 7 Gallimard and Butterfly's flat. Beijing. 1963. Downsta e, Son aces as Comrade Chin reads om her ~ · Upstage, Gallimard is still _kne~ling. He remains on knees throughout the scene, watching it. ms SONG: I need a baby. CHIN (From pad): He's been spotted going to a dorm. SONG: I need a baby. CHIN: At the Foreign Language Institute. SONG: I need a baby. CHIN: The room of a Danish girl ... What do you mean, you need a bahy?I_ SONG: Tell Comrade Kang-last night, the entire mission, it could've ended. CHIN: What do you mean? SONG: Rene ... GALLIMARD: 61 SONG: Tell Kang-he told me to strip. From the sracr CHIN:_Strip?! SONG: Write! CHIN: I tell you, I don't understand nothing about this case anymore. Nothmg,, > 62 M. BUTTERFLY ACT TWO, Scene Seven 63 He told me to strip, and I took a chance. Oh, we Chinese, we know how to gamble. SONG: Miss Chin? Why, in the Peking Opera, are women's roles played by men ? CHIN (Writing): " ... told him to strip." CHIN: I don't know. Maybe, a reactionary remnant of male-- SONG: My palms were wet, I had to make a split-second decision. SONG: No. (Beat Because only a man knows how a woman is suppose to act. SONG: CHIN: Hey! Can you slow down?! Pause. SONG: You write faster, I'm the artist here. Suddenly, it hit me--"All he wants is for her to submit. Once a woman submits. a man is always ready to become 'generous.' " CHIN: You're j ust gonna end up with rough notes. Chin exits. Song turns upstage, towards Gallimard. GALLIMARD: Callin a er Chin: Good riddance! (To Son&.L could forget all that betrayal in an ms an, you now. If y ou'd just come back and become Butterfly again. SONG: Fat chance. You're here in prison, rotting in a cell. And I'm on a plane, wmgmg my way back to China. Your President pardoned me of our treason. you know SONG: And it worked! He ave in! Now, if I can just resent him with a A Chinese ba hair-he'll be mine for life.! GALLIMARD: Yes, I read about that. CHIN: Kan will never agree! The trading of babies has to be a counterrevo uttonary act. GALLIMARD:~ t don't you, even a little bit, wish you were. here with me? - SONG: Must make you feel ... lower than shit. SONG: Sometimes, a counterrevolutionary act is necessary to counter a counterrevolutionary act. Pause. - CHIN: Wait. SONG: I need one ... in seven months. Make sure it's a boy. CHIN: This doesn't sound like something the Chairman would do. Maybe you'd better talk to Comrade Kang ryoursel( =-- SONG: Good. I will. Chin gets up to leave. Gallimard uts his arms around Song's waist. He and Son are in the positions the were in at t e en o Scene 6. f 64 M. BUTTERFLY scene 8 Same. ACT TWO, Scene Eight 65 SoNG:_N.o.. - GALLIMARD: What? SONG: Do I sound silly, a slave, if I say I'm not worthy1,_, GALLIMARD: Yes. In fact you do. No one has Joyed roe like GALLIMARD: I'll divorce m y wife. We'll live together here, , and then later in France. SONG: I feel so . . . ashamed. GALLIMARD: Why? · SONG: I had begun to lose faith. And now, you shame me · with your generosity. GALLIMARD: Generosity? No, I'm proposing for very selfish reasons. SONG: Your apologies only make me feel more ashamed, My outburst a moment ago! GALLIMARD: Your outburst? What about ·my request?! SoNG: You've been very patient dealing with my ... eccentricities. A Western man, used to women freer with_ their bodiesGALLIMARD: It was ~ick! Don't make excuses for me. SONG: I have to. You don't seem willing to make them for yourself. Pause. GALLIMARD;-Y' ou're crazy. SONG: I'm happy. Which often looks like crazy. GALLIMARD: Then make me crazy . Marry me. Pause. y~ SONG: Thank you. And no one ever will. I'll see to that. GALLIMARD: So what is the problem? SONG: Rene, we Chinese are realists. We understand rice, gold, and guns. You are a diplomat. Your career is skyrocketing. Now, what would happen if you divorced your wife to marry a Communist Chinese actress? GALLIMARD: That's not being realistic. That's defeating yanrself before you begin. SONG: We must conserve our strength for the battles we can wm. GALLIMARD: That sounds like a fortune cookie! SONG: Where do you think fortune cookies come from? GALLIMARD: I don't care. SONG: You do. So do I. And we should. That is why I say I'm not worthy. I'm worthy to love and even to be loved by you. But I am not worthy to end the career of one of the West's most promising diplomats. GALLIMARD: It's not that great a career! I made it sound like more than jt is! SONG: Modest will et ou nowhere. Flatter ourself, and you flatter me. I'm flattere to ec me your offer. (She exits) 66 M. BUTTERFLY GALLIMARD (To us) : Butterfly and I argued all night. And, in the end, I left knowin ver be her hus band. e went away for several months-to the cou 1 e a small anima . nt1 t e mg t I received her call. ACT TWO, Scene Nine GALLIMARD: "Song Peepee"? May Stephan, or Adolph? 61 suggest Michael. or SONG: You may, but I won't listen. A baby's cry from offs tage . Song enters , carrying a child, GALLIMARD: You can't be serious. Can you imagine the time this child will have in school? SONG: He looks like you. SONG: In the West, yes. GALLIMARD: Oh 1 (Beat · he 4f2Proaches the baby) Well, babie§. are never very attractive at birth. GALLIMARD: It's worse than naming him Ping Pong or Long Dong or- SONG: Stop! SONG: But he's never going to live in the West, is he? GALLIMARD: I'm sure he'll grow more beautiful with age. More like his mother. Pause. SONG: " Chi vide mail a bimbo del Giappon . SONG: It is mine. And this is m y promise to you: I wj)l raise him, he will be our child, but he will never burden Y..9.U outs~de of China. GALLIMARD : "What baby, I wonder, was ever born m Japan"-or Clima, for that matter- GALLIMARD : That wasn't m y choice. SONG: " . . . occhi azzurrinit GALLIMARD: Wh do you make these promises? I be burdened! I want a scan GALLIMARD: " W jth azu ce eyes "-they 're actually sort of brown, wouldn't you say? SoNGj(To us): Prophetic\ SONG: "E il lab bro." GALLIMARD: I'm serious. GALLIMARD: "And such lips!" (He kisses Song) And such lips. SONG: So am I. His name is as I registered it. And he will never live in the West. .SONG: "E i ricciolini d'oro schietto?" GALLIMARD : "And such a head of golden"'-if slightly p_a tchy-" curls?' ' SONG: I'm goin_g to call him "Peepee." GALLIMARD: Darling, could you repeat that because I'm sure a -rickshaw just flew by overhead. SONG: You heard me. Song ex its with the child. GALLIMARD (To us): It is possible that her stubbornness only made me want her more. That drawing back at the moment o f my capitulation was the most brilliant strategy she could have chosen. It is possjble. But it is also possible that by this point she could have said, could have done ... anything, and I would have adored her still. 68 M. BUTTERFLY ACT TWO, Scene Nine 69 • GALLIMARD: I' m being transferred ... because I was wrong . about the American war? scene 9 Beijing. 1966. A driving rh ythm of Chinese percussion fi lls the stage. GALLIMARD: And then, China began to change. Mao became very old, and fus cult became very stron . And, like many old men, he entered his secon c ood. So e handed over the reins of state to those with minds like his - own. And children ruled the Middle Kingdom with compiete°'caprice. The doctrine of the Cultural Revolution implied continuous anarchy. Contact between Chinese and foreigners became ·impossible. Our flat was confis. cated. Her fame and m y money now counted against us. TOULON: Of course not. We don't care about the Americans . . We care about our mind. The ualit of our ana ys1s. In general, everything you've predicted here in the Onent ... just hasn't happened. GALLIMARD: I think that's premature. TOULON: Don't force me to be blunt. Okay, you said China was ready to open to Western trade. The only thing they're trading out there are Western heads. And, yes, you said the Americans would succeed in Indochina. You were kidding, right? GALLIMARD: I think the end is in sight . Two dancers in Mao suits and red-starred caps enter, and begin cru e y mimicking revolutionary vio ence, in an a tt ro TOULON: Don't be pathetic. And don't take this personally. You were wrong. It's not your fault. GALLIMARD: And somehow the American war went wrong too . Four hundred thousand dollars were bemg spent fo r every V1et Cong killed; so General Westmoceland's re~ mark that the Oriental does not value life the way Americ ans do was oddly accurate Why weren't the Vietnamese p eople giving in? Why were they content instead to die and die and die again? GALLIMARD: But I'm going home. Toulon enters. TouLON: Congratu la rioo s Gallimard.. GALLIMARD: Excuse me, sir? TouLON: Not a promotion T hat was last time. You're__ going home. - GALLIMARD: What? TOULON: Don't say I didn't warn you. TOULON: Right. Could I have the number of your mistress? (Beat) Joke! Joke! Eat a croissaiit for me. Toulon exits. Son wearin a Mao suit is dra ed in .from the .wings as part of the upstage dance. They "beat" er, t en ] ampoon the acrobatics of the Ch inese opera as she is made to k!:.eel onstage. GALLIMARD (Simultaneously) : I don't care to recall how Butterfly and I said our hurried farewell. Perhaps it was better to end our affair t5efore 1t killed her. Gallimard exits. Comrade Chin walks across the stage with a banner rea ing: "The Actor Renounces sion. e reac es t e nee ing Sang Percussion stops with a , thud. Dancers strike poses. 70 M. BUTTERFLY ACT TWO, Scene Ten CHIN: Actor-oppressor, for a ears you have lived above the common people n:id look@- down oo thei r labor. While '"11ie1'armer ate millet- - SoNG: I ate pastries from France and sweetmeats from silver trays. CHIN: And how did you come to live in such an exalted position? SONG: I was a plaything for the imperialists! 71 SONG: I want to serve the people! Dancers regain their revolutionar smiles and be in a dance victory. b CmN: Whatr! SONG: I want to serve the people!! , Dancers unveil a banner: "The Actor Is Rehabilitated!" Son remains kneeling befo re Chin, as the dancers ounce around them, then exit. Music out. C HIN: What did you do? r SONG: I shamed China by a foreigner . . . by allowing m yself to be corrupted CHIN: What does this mean? The People demand a full confession! ~ONG: I engaged in the lowest perversion s witb C bio a's enemies! CHIN: What perversions? Be more clear! A commune. Hunan Province. 1970. CHIN: How you planning to do that? SONG: I've already worked four years in the fields of Hunan, Comrade Chin,. SONG: I let him put it up m y ass! QEncers look over, disgusted. CHIN: Aaaa-ya! How can you use such sickening language? t SoN~ language ... is only as foul as the crimes committed ... scene 10 I CHIN: So? Farmers work all their lives. Let me see your ' hands. - . Song holds them out for her inspection. CHIN: Yeah. That's better. So--what do you want to do now? CHIN: Goddamn! Still so smooth! How Ion does it take to turn you actors mto goo anyt m gs? Hunh. You've JUSt spent too many years in luxury to be any good to the · Revolution. SONG: I want to serve the people. SoNG: I served the Revolution. Percussion starts up, with Chinese strings. CHIN: Serve the Revolution? Bullshit! You wore dresses! Don' ( tell me-I was there. I saw you! You and your white vice-consul! Stuck up there in your flat, living off CHIN: What? T 72 ACT TWO, Scene Eleven M. BUTTERFLY the People's Treas-ury! Yeah, I knew what was going on! Yc:m two ... homos. Homos. Homos. ause· s e comoses erse e . . . you wi}l serve the people, all right. But not wit t e evo utton s money. T is time. you use your own mone_y. - 73 You're t rebrain, the nitwit! You think you're so smart? You understand "The m o a an . 'Good! Then you go to France and be a pervert for Ch~ _§an Mao! Chin and Song exit in opposite directions. SONG: I have no money. CHIN: Shut up! And you won't stink up China anymore with your pervert stuff. You'll pollute the place where __ pollut10n begins-the West. scene 11 SONG: What do you mean? to France. Without a cent in your pocket. You find your consul's house, you ma e him pay your expensesSoNG: No . CHIN: And you give us weekly reports! Useful information! ?ONG: That's crazy. It's been four years. Paris. 1968-70. Gallimard enters . GALLIMARD: And what was waiting for me back in Paris? Well, better C hinese food than I'd eaten in China. Friends and relatives. A ltttle accountmg, regular schedule, keepTng track "of traffic violations in the suburbs. . . . And the indi nit of students shoutin the slo ans of Chairman CHIN: Either that, or back to rehabilitation center! _SONG: Comrade Chin, he's not going to support me! Not in France! He's a w hite man! I was just bis p]a ythjn~CHIN: Oh yuck! Again with the sickening language? Where's my stick? SONG: You don't understand the mind of a man. Pause. CHIN: Oh no? No I don'~? Then how come I'm married, huh? How come I got a man? Five, six years ago, you · always tell me those kind of things, I felt very bad. But not now! Because what does the Chairman say;> He tells us I'm now the smart one, you're now the nincompoop!_ HELGA: Rene? Rene? (She enters, soaking wet) I've had a ... a problem. (She sneezes) GALLIMARD: You're wet. HELGA: Yes, I ... corning back from the grocer's. A group of students, waving red flags, they- Gallimard fetches a towel. HELGA: -they ran by, I was caught up along with them. Before I knew what was happening- Gallimard gives her the towel. HELGA: Thank you. The police started firing water cannons at us. I tried to shout, to tell them I was the wife of a I' 11 ,! [i \i 74 M. BUTTERFLY ,,I I I 75 GALLIMARD: Helga, I want a divorce. Ii iI ACT TWO, Scene Eleven Pause; Gallimard continues, mopping the floor. GALLIMARD: What's-? Well, nothing cea!ly HELGA: I take it back. China is . . . beautiful. Incense, I like mcense. HELGA: Nothing?! The storefronts are in flames, there's glass in the streets, buildings are toppling-and I'm wet! GALLIMARD: I've had a mistress. GALLIMARD: Nothing! ... that I care to think about. HELGA: So? HELGA: And is that why you stay in this room? GALLIMARD: For eight yea rs. GALLIMARD : Yes, in fact. ou would the da married you. And now w at? You want to marry her? - HELGA: With the incense burning? You know something? I hate incense. It smells s? sickly sweet. ,- GALLIMARD: Well, I hate the French. Who j ust smell-period! H ELGA: And the Chinese were better? HELGA:J. see Y,m urw t tq leave. For someone who's not here, is that right? GALLIMARD: Please-don't start. GALLIMARD: That's right. HELGA: When we left, this exact same thiog the ciors HELGA: You can't live with her, but still you don't want to live with me. GALLIMARD: No, no ... HELGA: Students screaming slogans, smashing down doors-GALLIMARD: Helga- GALLIMARD: I can't. She's in China_ GALLIMARD: That's right. Pause. H elga's towel, begins mopping up the floor) HELGA: Shit. How terrible that I can figure that out. (Pause} I never thought I'd say it. But, in China, I was happy. I knew, in my own way, I knew that you w ere not everything you pretended to be. But the pretense-going on your arm to the embassy ball, visiting your office and the guards saying, "Good morning, good morning, Madame Gallimard"-the pretense . . . was very good indeed. (Pause) I hope everyone is mean to you for the rest of your life. (She exits) _ HELGA: But it's the truth! GALLIMARD HELGA: It was all going on m China, too. Don't you remember?! GALLIMARD: Helga! Please! (Pause) You have never understood China a ? y OU walk in here with these r 1cu ous ideas, that the West is falling apart, that China was spitting in our fa cer, You come m, dnppmg of the streets, and you leave water all over my floor. (He grabs (To us): Prophetic \ 76 M. BUTTERFLY ACT TWO, Scene Eleven Marc enters with two drinks. GALLIMARD (To _orbet rneo Mqrq· Io Cbioa I was different from all 77 I once loved, and was loved by, very simply, the Perfect '-woman. Song enters, dressed as Butte,jly in wedding dress . MARc;,...Snre You w ere wbire Here's yonr dtiok. GALLIMARD: I felt . . . touched. MARC: In the head? Rene, I don't want to hear about the Oriental love goddess. Okay?· One night-can we just drink and throw up without a lot of conversation? GALLIMARD (To Song): Not again My imagination is hell,. Am I asleep this time?Or did I drink too much? SONG: Rene? GALLiMARD: God, it's too painful! That you speak? SONG: What are you talking about? Rene-..-tanch me. G.ALLIMARD: You still don't believe me, do you? GALLIMARD: Why ? MARC: Sure I do. She was the most beautiful, et cetera, et cetera, blase blase. SONG: I'm real. Take m y hand. Pause. GALLIMARD: My life in the West has beeo such a disappointment. . GALLIMARD: Wh ? So ou can disappear again and leave me clutchi air? For the entertamment o m ne1 hors wh0=-? Song touches Gallimard. MARC: Life in the West is like that. You'll get used to it. Look, you're dnvmg me away. I'm leaving. Happy, now? (He exits, then returns) Look, I have a date tomorrow Eight. You w anna come? I can fix you up with- SONG: Rene? GALLIMARD: Of course. I would love to come. SONG: You hadn't ... forgotten-? Pause. MARC: Uh-on second thought, no. You'd better get ahold of yourself first. He exits; Gallimard nurses his drink . GALLIMARD (To us): This is the ultimate cruelty, isn't it? That I can talk and talk and to anyone listening, it's only air-too rich a diet .to be swallowed by a mundane world. Why can't anyone understand? That in China, - Gallimard takes Song's hand. Silence . GALLIMARD: Butterfly? I never doubted you'd return. GALLIMARD: Yes, actually , I've forgotten everything. My mind, you see--there wasn't enough room in this hard head-not for the world and for you. No, there was only · room for one. (Beat) Come, look. See? Your bed has . been waiting, with the Klimt poster you like, and-see? The xiang lu [incen~e burner] ·you gave me? SONG: I ... I don't know what to say. GALLIMARD: There's nothing to say. Not at the end of a long trip. Can I make you some tea? 78 M. BUTTERFLY ACT TWO, Scene Eleven SONG: But where's your wife? GALLIMARD: She's by my side. She's by my side at last. Gallimard reaches to embrace Song. Song sidesteps, dodging fum. ·, GALLIMARD: Why?! · SONG (To us): So I did return to Rene in Paris. Where I · foundGALLIMARD: Why do you run away? Can't we show them how we embraced that evening.? SONG: Please. I'm talki~ . GALLIMARD : You have to do.. what I say! I'm conjuring you up in my mind! SONG: Rene, I've never done what you've said. Why should it be any different in your mind? Now split-the story moves on, and I must change. I welcomed you into my home! I didn't have to, you know' I cou ld've left you penoiless on the streets of Paris! But I took yon io ' • GALLIMARD: SONG: Thank you . . GALLIMARD: So ... please . . . don't change. SONG: You know I have to. You know I will. And anyway, what difference does it make? No matter what your eyes tell you, you can't ignore the truth. You already know too much. Gallimard exits. Song turns to U§ . SONG: The change I'm going to make requires about five minutes. So I thongbr you m1g bf want to take tfos oppor- 79 tunity to stretch your legs, enj oy a drink oc liit~R te t.b.e.. musicians . I'll be here, when you return, right where you
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M. Butterfly Passage Analysis
Passage: Gallimard said to Song, “The ending is pitiful. Pinkerton, in an act of great courage,
stays home and sends his American wife to pick up Butterfly’s child. The truth, long deferred,
has come up to her door… Death with honor/ Is better than life/ Life with dishonor… They say
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