M Butterfly

RIUve played out the events of my life night after night, always
searching for a new ending to my story, one where I will leave this cell
and return forever to my ButterflyUs arms.S (Hwang 3.3.1-4) With these
words of David Henry HwangUs play M Butterfly, we realize that we have
just been staring directly into the memories of Rene Gallimard. The fact
that Rene Gallimard serves as the narrator of his memories in the play M
Butterfly delivers an impression of the character behind Gallimard than
could ever be achieved by the viewing of the screenplay. The existence of
Marc in the play as seen from GallimardUs perspective, the fact that
Gallimard serves as the main organizer of ideas in the play, and the
differing roles of Helga in the two works all lead to very different
impressions and interpretations by the reader or viewer.
GallimardUs narration seems to be the most obvious difference
between the movie and the play. While reading the play, the audience has
an opportunity to get to know the personality of Rene Gallimard, as well
as his feelings about certain topics. Such insight can be very crucial in
the impression that a character makes on an audience. GallimardUs persona
is very evident in the opening lines of the play. He remarks initially
about the dimensions of the cell, the atmosphere, and the living
conditions. Immediately, this paints a picture for the reader that is
very accurate physically, and the reader sees that Gallimard is
straightforward, and says what he means without very much preamble. As
the opening scenes develop, we also see the side of Gallimard that is the
dreamer. Rene definitely has visions of perfection, and they are
demonstrated when he remarks RAlone in this cell, I sit night after
night, watching our story play through my head, always searching for a
new ending, one which redeems my honor , where she returns at last to my
arms.S (1.3.7-11) Gallimard can be classified as a dreamer, and not only
because he is confined to a prison cell for many years. He has a vision
of how life is supposed to be, and feels rewarded when
he conforms to a stereotype. For example, he says RI knew this little
flower was waiting for me to call, and, as I wickedly refused to do so, I
felt the first time that rush of power -- the absolute power of a man.S
(1.11. 8-10) Being Ra manS is important to Gallimard, and following the
so called RWestern FantasyS of having an affair with an Eastern woman is
tantalizing to him. Glimpses like these give the reader incredible
insight into the mind of Gallimard, which are very useful to explain
later actions in the story. A narrator builds a friendship with the
reader, a person that the audience can trust. We see the events from
GallimardUs side of things, which are much more distorted in the play
than the events that occur in the movie. The removal of the narrator in
the movie leaves the viewer to develop GallimardUs personality for
themselves, rather than get to know how he thinks. This puts the viewer
at an overall disadvantage for understanding the true meaning behind M
Butterfly.
Another significant part of the play that is omitted from the
movie is GallimardUs best friend from school, Marc. Marc is described as
a Rwomanizing cadS (1.3. 81) by Gallimard, giving the reader an obvious
first impression. He is developed as a character that is there for
Gallimard in times of need, and serves as someone that Gallimard can go
to in times of need. A friend like this does not exist in the movie, and
the viewer gets the sense that Gallimard is very quick in decision making
and has little doubt about his actions. In the play, however, we know
that this is not the case. There are several cases where Marc talks to
Gallimard in his head, and reasoning for decisions is explained. For
example, Marc says RAll your life youUve waited for a beautiful girl who
would lay down for you.....As the years pass, your hair thins and you
struggle to hold onto even your hopes. Stop struggling,