In order to understand the climax of the play M. Butterfly , it is important to review the meaning of “climax” in terms of theatre. The climax is the point at which the action starts during which the solution is given. Therefore, the climax is the turning point of the...
play and can often be seen as a “crisis” that eventually leads to the resolution and/or conclusion. Traditionally in a five-act play, the climax is close to the conclusion of act 3. However, in the nineteenth century, five-act plays were more commonly replaced by three-act plays, and the climax was placed close to the end of the play right before the conclusion. When looking atM. Butterfly, it is important to keep in mind that it is a three-act play, so the climax is likely near the end of the play.
With that being said, I believe the climax of the play M. Butterfly is near the end when Gallimard finds out Song is actually a man, not the woman Gallimard believed him to be. Upon returning to France, Gallimard told his wife, Helga, about his eight-year affair with Song. Gallimard did this with the intention of devoting himself to Song. Gallimard viewed Song as the perfect woman. However, when Gallimard found out the truth about his beloved’s gender, Song mocked him, saying it was easy to fool him. She (now he) pointed out that she was taken in by Gallimard with open arms and was supported by him for fifteen years. Therefore, it is easy to see how this resolution for Gallimard is the major crisis for him in the play. During act 3, scene 2, Song is taunting Gallimard, accusing Gallimard of still wanting him. Gallimard tells Song that he made a huge mistake. He says, “You showed me your true self. When all I loved was the lie. A perfect lie, which you let fall to the ground—and now, it's old and soiled." I believe this quote truly marks the climax of the play. Song realizes that Gallimard doesn’t love him, which causes them to fight and split for good.
When reading a story or play, there are many events that could be considered “turning points,” which can make identifying the climax tricky, so it is important to also consider the conclusion or resolution of the play itself. The climax I suggested leads the play to the conclusion, where Gallimard admits that he loved Song and states, "Love warped my judgment, blinded my eyes, rearranged the very lines on my face...until I could look in the mirror and see nothing but...a woman." Without Song, Gallimard finds “Madame Butterfly” in himself, and the play concludes with him dressing himself up as Madame Butterfly and killing himself.