Butterfly" David Hwang tried to link imperialism, racism, and sexism in a very complicated love affair between a French diplomat named Rene Gillimard and a Chinese male actor named Song Liling. Gillamard so desperately wants Song to be his fantasy stereotypical Asian woman who is beautiful, submissive and will do anything for her love that he ignores all evidence that would reveal to him that Song is a man and a spy for the Chinese government. One sign than Gillimard ignored is Song's refusal to remove all her clothes in front of him even thought they already slept together and after they planned to have a child together "Gillimard: I want to see you naked. Song: I thought you understood my modesty." It is here where the submissive woman fantasy of Gillimard is broken when Song refuses to remove her clothes, yet Gillimard looks past it and accepts that Song is embarrassed of her body because he is in love with her. After the love affair begins, he compares his relationship with Song to the one in Puccini's opera "Madame Butterfly." In that opera a submissive Asian woman waits for her western lover for 3 years, however when he does return he takes his child and the Asian woman kills her self because "Death with honor/Is better than life/Life with dishonor." That is all that Gillimard wants, a stereotypical Asian woman who he can dominate and he thinks that Song is that woman.
The cultural and the sexual dominance that the west has over the east are apparent through the love affair between Song and Gillimard. When song and Gillimard first meet song is defiant "It's one of your favorite fantasies, isn"t it? The submissive Oriental woman and the cruel white man." This could also be seen as the west trying to conquer the east but the east is putting up a resistance. However, as the play progresses Song cannot resist Gillimard, just as the east had succumbed to the west. As the play goes on Gillimard tries to control Song by not seeing her or contacting her for many weeks.