Why is Gallimard so susceptible to song's deceit in the play M. Butterfly?

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Domenick Franecki eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Gallimard has never been particularly successful with women, as the other educator notes. In a scene from his university days, he tells his friend that he is too insecure to approach women, as he never knows what to say and believes that women will reject him. However, he, like Pinkerton in Madame Butterfly, believes that though he is not powerful, brave, or handsome, he still deserves to be with a beautiful woman. It is clear that he also believes Asian women are more submissive than Western women. He says that Asian women suggest that a man has "already given too much, when we know he's really had to give nothing at all." He enjoys being with a woman who, he thinks, does not value herself. It makes him feel more powerful and as though he is superior to her. Though Song seems haughty at first, Gallimard believes in his soul that she is submissive to him. He later falls prey to Song's deceit. 

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Jamie Wheeler eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Gallimard has a pretty severe inferiority complex. At school, he is teased, even being voted ‘‘least likely to be invited to a party.’’ He is uncomfortable in his relations with the opposite sex, and has had little success in romance. He married for practical reasons rather than for love. However, he still longs for a beautiful woman who will be completely devoted to him.

When he thinks he has found such a woman in Song, he gains pleasure in dominating her, and behaves arrogantly and cruelly towards her. This makes him feel for the first time that he is a real man. Eventually, however, he does develop a genuine love for Song.

These traits, longing, vulnerability, inferiority, and dissatisfaction in his marriage are contribute to Song's success in manipulating Gallimard. Blinded by her attentions and beauty, Gallimard lets his guard down and Song is able to deceive him into turning over the classified documents.

For more information on Gallimard, Song, and other characters, please visit the link below.

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