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This essay examines David Henry Hwang’s play M. Butterfly and its underlying commentary on the topics of heteronormativity and compulsory heterosexuality. In order to comment on and analyze these two aspects of his work, I first focus on protagonist Rene Gallimard’s behavior towards and around women. This analysis is complemented by a discussion of Hwang’s incorporation of gender-fluid characters in his work, who serve to emphasize and bring out Rene’s homophobia. In Rene’s quest to find, possess, and subjugate the perfect Oriental woman, Hwang makes it clear that Rene is suppressing his own homosexuality. This suppression is demonstrated through Rene’s desperate need to declare himself as a strong, dominant man and his many attempts at striving towards the heteronormative ideal—the male and female relationship. In order to effectively discuss Hwang’s commentary on homosexuality through Rene, I researched heteronormativity, the belief that heterosexuality is the ideal and ‘normal’ sexuality while all other sexualities are not normal. I also researched suppressed homosexuality, which is the suppression of a person’s sexuality in order to fit the heterosexual ideal set by heteronormativity. Hwang’s social commentary is striking and clear, stating that heteronormativity is damaging and, in some cases, lethal.


This is a metadata-only record.



  • Subject
    • English

  • Institution
    • Dahlonega

  • Event location
    • LTC 382

  • Event date
    • 30 March 2015

  • Date submitted

    18 July 2022

  • Additional information
    • Acknowledgements:

      Professor Anastasia Lin