In the play M. Butterfly, is Rene Gallimard a tragic hero or a delusional fool?

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teachertaylor eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Gallimard's character does not really fit into the classic definition of the tragic hero.  The classic tragic hero is one who comes from noble beginnings, is led astray by a tragic flaw in his/her character, and in the end realizes the error of his/her ways.  Gallimard does not come from noble beginnings--he is a French diplomat, but he fails to rise to the occasion to do good things in this position.  Gallimard himself admits that growing up he was not an impressive person, and he had trouble developing relationships with others.  Gallimard does suffer a tragic flaw:  his need for acceptance and power drive him to fall prey to the illusion that Song paints of being the perfect "Oriental" woman.  In the end, Gallimard understands that he has been used by Song to get information; however, he still feels that he has been betrayed and that he truly loved Song for the person whom he believed (s)he was.  Gallimard does not really see himself at fault in any way.  So Gallimard does not fit the definition of the tragic hero.

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M. Butterfly

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