M. Butterfly Questions and Answers
by David Henry Hwang

M. Butterfly book cover
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What specific techniques of structure, style, or storytelling does the playwright of M. Butterfly use to create a meaningful theatrical experience?  

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In M. Butterfly, Hwang’s brilliant use of structure, style, and storytelling earned his script the 1988 Tony Award for Best Play. His structure crisscrosses time and space. His style flows in and out of the heightened reality of the opera-within-the play. His storytelling examines the roles we all play as we attempt to serve ourselves and yet conform to the rules of our societies.

In particular, M. Butterfly crisscrosses time and space from 1940s Paris to 1960s China, and then from 1970s Paris to where it began in Paris 1988 with Gallimard, the main character. In the final scene, Gallimard directly addresses the members of the audience and challenges them to accept his method of making peace with his choices:

GALLIMARD: Tonight I realize my search is over. That I’ve looked all along in the wrong place. And now, to you, I will prove that my love was not in vain—by returning to the world of fantasy where I first met her.

(M. Butterfly, Act 3, Scene 3)

Unlike film or television, when...

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