How can Madame Butterfly be seen as revealing something about Gallimard in M. Butterfly?

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teachertaylor | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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David Henry Hwang's play M. Butterfly is a revisionist retelling of the Italian opera Madama Butterfly by Giacomo Puccini.  Gallimard's character is reworking of Lieutenant B. F. Pinkerton, a naval officer who falls in love with a geisha named Cio-Cio-San (Madame Butterfly).  Similar to Gallimard's pursuance of Song, Pinkerton pursues Cio-Cio-San until she agrees to marry him.  Afterwards, Pinkerton leaves and Cio-Cio-San waits for years for his return.  Gallimard is similar to Pinkerton in that he also abandons Song while she waits for his return.  Gallimard wants to have control over Song the way that Pinkerton had control over Cio-Cio-San, but the dynamics of Hwang's play do not allow Gallimard's character this type of control.  So, the opera serves as a symbol of the ideas of Orientalism that Hwang speaks against through Gallimard's character.