Literary Theory and Film Analysis: Mulan

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In 1998 Walt Disney Feature animation produced one of their most popular movies to ever hit theatres “Mulan”. Mulan tells the story of a young Chinese Women that battles to fight against societies expectation for her. When she finds out that her father had to fight for the Chinese army, she decides to take it upon herself to protect her injured father and fight for her country knowing that it would be dangerous because she could have been beheaded for being a women but at the end of the movie she proves to the people around her that she as a women has value despite her being a women. Mulan is named one of the Disney princesses, but she is the most different out of the others. She did things unusual for a woman. She did not dream of finding her prince charming that she would marry at the end but showed that she as a woman was capable of more in society.

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Mulan seems to be a feminist movie showing individuals that women are capable of more I society, but it is not free of showing the traditional gender stereotype. The story of Mulan displays a further understanding of gender stereotypes within men ad women. A stereotype is a “misleading and simplified representation of a particular social group.

Firstly, Mulan is an independent woman she didn’t have to rely on others because she did things by herself without the help of the male figures around her. She exhumes this quality when she was in a military training camp. Mulan had to prove that she could manage to keep up with the others in training camp but she showed that she could succeed and she even surpassed the male figures around her.Throughout history women have always had to depend on others especially the male figures in their lives if the women wasn’t married she would have to depend on her father, brother or even uncles but as they got married they would depend on their husbands women have never been thought to be independent but how could they when they were oppressed of doing many things in society it was almost impossible to break the societal barriers. Mulan wasn’t to show that she was different she was capable of more she looked for her own true identity the one that was taken from her and showed that women were truly capable of being independent.

Mulan wanted to break the societal norms of her community. When the man asked her what type of ideal woman she was looking for in the song “A Girl Is worth fighting for” she described the ideal woman as “a girl who’s got a brain. Who always speaks her mind?” But she seemed to disapprove of Ping’s answer. Mulan described her true beliefs of a what a woman should truly be in society and the beginning when her mother and grandmother were getting her prepared for matchmaking they descried a women as one that is quiet and follows the men’s order because he is the men of the household but those women’s ideology comes from the lack of education that they were given because they were taught that they had to stay home and take care of the housework and watch over the family, education was not necessary for them. However, Mulan had a different intake on this matter thought which showed her feminist side.

The next feminist quality Mulan portrayed is bravery. When she found out that her father had to fight for the Chinese army she took it upon herself and stole his armour and dressed like a man pretending to be his son in order to replace him at war She was not afraid of doing something that was against the ideal norm at that patriarchal society where women were not allowed to be part in the army.

The movie’s opening scene beginnings with the Huns attacking the army at the great wall of china which surprised the emperor. The emperor orders his assistant, Chi Fu to gather as many men as possible. The general insures the emperor that his army could handle the invaders, but the emperor did not want to risk anything he states “A single grain of rice can tip the scale. One man may be the difference between victory and defeat.” The country had intended to only count on the men in china to take care of the matter excluding the women, but they would later find out that it was a woman who helped save the entire country.

Masculinity is defined by power, strength, and Activiti the scene where the captain starts singing the song, I’ll Make a Man Out of You. “Let’s get down to business, to defeat the Huns. Did they send me daughters, when I asked for sons?” demonstrates the societal representation of men because it shows that they are the gender that is obligated and is worthy to fight. The scene is shown to be sexist in a way because it shows us that being womanly is unacceptable in war because women in society are stereotypically known to be very emotional and weak which is unacceptable to fight for the lives of the Chinese people. When the Captain sings, “(Be a man) With all the force of a great typhoon (Be a man) With all the strength of a raging fire,” this scene tells the audience that masculine traits are far more superior and praised compared to feminine ones, which therefore discourages femininity.

While men are seen as intelligent, strong, and powerful, women are portrayed as weak, vulnerable, and insignificant. Mulan reinforces the idea that “being a woman,” means being useless in society. A perfect example of that would be when her identity reveled and Shang the captain and the assistant chi-Fu were having an argument when Shang says, “she’s a hero!” and Chi-Fu responds with, “she’s a woman! She’ll never be worth anything!” (Mulan 1998). Mulan may seem like a feminist movie but in reality, the only reason she was able to succeed at what she did was that she was able to pretend to be a man for quite some time.

By portraying male traits. When Mulan was preparing to see the matchmaker that would find her husband and make her a bride to bring honor to her family. It showed the audience that the only way a woman was able to make her family proud was to get married and serve by her husband which is still valid in many cultures in today’s world but women re fighting for the rights of their voices to be heard and have the rights they weren’t given to before which is exactly what Mulan managed to do.

The movie “Mulan” shows us that it may seem like man and women are equal but in reality, masculinity is far more important societal wise which is why Mulan was able to succeed and save china. Feminism still has a long way to go and because there is a very strong patriarchal construction in society it will be hard for people to adapt to this new way of living. The movie does somewhat empower women to show them that they do have a really important role in society even if it may not look like it because they are still getting oppressed but in other hands, the movie also limits women because it shows them, they won’t Mulan be seen as equals.

In conclusion, the Mulan tries to break free from the so-called stereotypical gender roles but ends up not succeeding. The song, I’ll Make a Man Out of You, strongly undermines male traits, while, A Girl Worth Fighting For, highlights the so-called female traits. Therefore, Disney’s Mulan displays gender inequality by showcasing messages to the audience that females are inferior to males, and those feminine traits will always be subordinate to those of the superior male class.

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